Archive for the category “Emphasis on LOCAL”

What’s happening with the James Beard Public Market Project?

As someone who once happily lived just up Beacon Hill from the Pike Place Market in Seattle, I’ve been wondering what’s happening with the Portland public market project.  So I decided to do a little web searching to see what I could find out.

My first search turned up this:

BREAKING BEARD: Last month, a deal was finally inked for the planned James Beard Public Market. The giant indoor market, named for Oregon native and foodie hero James Beard, would look something like Seattle’s Pike Place Market and sit at the west end of the Morrison Bridge. But the current king of Portland stall sellers isn’t bowing to kiss Beard’s ring just yet. Portland Farmers Market boss Trudy Toliver told Capital Press that the markets have “somewhat similar value sets,” but told WW that public markets are a “different animal.” Toliver says PFM prioritizes local vendors, but public markets “aren’t a place where you go to meet a farmer.” While the Beard group says it will commit to local vendors, public markets have a history of starting off local before selling out.”

via Scoop: Market Forces.

Also on the page was this report from Oregon Live:

Multnomah County commissioners voted to approve a deal to sell land at the west end of the Morrison Bridge to Melvin Mark Companies and nonprofit James Beard Public Market Foundation for a 17-story high-rise and Pike Place-style market. The decision marks the end of a long process that began when the county declared the 3.12-acre property, occupied mostly by parking lots, as surplus and began looking for a buyer. And it means the fulfillment of a long-sought dream of a public food market in downtown Portland. The partnership is purchasing the property for $10,430,000. The deal will close in 37 months. “

The deal will close in 37 months?  Yikes, that’s over 3 years–and that’s just for the deal to close.  So when is it planned to open?

According to this article from the Portland Business Journal:

The deal gives market promoters 37 months to raise the approximately $25 million it will take to develop the market so it can open with no debt. Supporters anticipate opening the market in 2016.”

Which means, I guess, that I shouldn’t be planning a field trip to the Market any time soon.

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10 Reasons to Eat Local Food

Here’s an interesting “top ten” list from “Life Begins at 30. ”  I don’t think they’re all of equal importance—-and there are no doubt points that have been left out—-but they do make a case for the virtues of LOCAL.

1. Eating local means more for the local economy.  According to a study by the New Economics Foundation in London, a dollar spent locally generates twice as much income for the local economy.  When businesses are not owned locally, money leaves the community at every transaction.

2. Locally grown produce is fresher.  While produce that is purchased in the supermarket or a big-box store has been in transit or cold-stored for days or weeks, produce that you purchase at your local farmer’s market has often been picked within 24 hours of your purchase.  This freshness not only affects the taste of your food, but the nutritional value which declines with time.

3. Local food just plain tastes better.  Ever tried a tomato that was picked within 24 hours?  ‘Nuff said.

4. Locally grown fruits and vegetables have longer to ripen.  Because the produce will be handled less, locally grown fruit does not have to be “rugged” or to stand up to the rigors of shipping.  This means that you are going to be getting peaches so ripe that they fall apart as you eat them, figs that would have been smashed to bits if they were sold using traditional methods, and melons that were allowed to ripen until the last possible minute on the vine.

5. Eating local is even better for air quality and pollution than eating organic.  In a March 2005 study by the journal Food Policy, it was found that the miles that non-local organic food often travels to our plate creates environmental damage that outweighs the benefit of buying organic.

6. Buying local food keeps us in touch with the seasons.  By eating with the seasons, we are eating foods when they are at their peak taste, are the most abundant, and the least expensive.

7. Buying locally grown food is fodder for a wonderful story.  Whether it’s the farmer who brings local apples to market or the baker who makes local bread, knowing part of the story about your food is such a powerful part of enjoying a meal.

8. Eating local protects us from bio-terrorism.  Food with less distance to travel from farm to plate has less susceptibility to harmful contamination.

9. Local food translates to more variety.  When a farmer is producing food that will not travel a long distance, will have a shorter shelf life, and does not have a high-yield demand, the farmer is free to try small crops of various fruits and vegetables that would probably never make it to a large supermarket.  Supermarkets are interested in selling “Name brand” fruit: Romaine Lettuce, Red Delicious Apples, Russet Potatoes.  Local producers often play with their crops from year to year, trying out Little Gem Lettuce, Senshu Apples, and Chieftain Potatoes.

10. Supporting local providers supports responsible land development.  When you buy local, you give those with local open space — farms and pastures — an economic reason to stay open and undeveloped.

via Life Begins at 30: 10 Reasons to Eat Local Food.

Local Food Movement is Alive and Well in the Pacific Northwest

According to a new USDA report, the Pacific Northwest has some of the highest rates of local food sales in the country.  Way to go, Oregon and Washington!

Northwest farmers are some of the most successful in the nation in joining the local food movement. That’s according to a new report from the U-S Department of Agriculture.

Nationally, the study found that local food sales have grown to $5 billion a year. Oregon and Washington have some of the highest rates of local food sales in the country.

The report cites the region’s variety of fresh produce as well as a long-standing tradition of farmers’ markets. But the study notes that the vast majority of local food sales happen through grocery stores and restaurants.

via Northwest Embraces Local Food Movement · OPB News.

How to Eat Locally: Mid-Winter

Finding it hard to eat locally (or even regionally) during the wet , grey Portland Winter?  Here are some tips from Chris Musser of the Lost Arts Kitchen:

Eating locally, sustainably and seasonally can often seem daunting, especially in winter. By January, having eaten through all the Hubbard squash and home-canned tomatoes in storage, you’re kind of tired of potatoes, and you inexplicably find yourself craving bell peppers and cucumbers—both months out of season.

Want to know the local secrets to fighting mid-winter’s food doldrums? With a little planning and some new skills, all the flavors of the Portland area foodshed can be yours—for a lot less money than you’d think. With the generous help of Lost Arts Kitchen, here’s our guide to jumping the hunger gap this season, one delicious bite at a time.

via How to Eat Locally: Mid-Winter | Neighborhood Notes.

Happy, Healthy New Year’s Resolution’s from The Green Plate Blog

I love these new year’s EATING resolutions from the Green Plate Blog, with their emphasis on healthy, local, sustainable and knowing where your food comes from.  What are your 2012 eating resolutions?

I CHOOSE…

  • to buy food that was grown without pesticides and other agrichemicals, when available… and to ask about/for it if need be!

Why? no agrichemicals is good news for my personal health, for the health of the people who grow my food, and for the protection of the environment. “Organic” labels offer one type of guarantee; another comes from the trust you develop with producers whom you choose to buy from directly.

  • to never eat/buy meat unless it is clearly labeled “with no antibiotics”, “no growth- hormones”… and to ask about/for it if need be!

Why?  meat laced with antibiotics and growth-hormones is the product of an industry that treats animals inhumanely, and feeds them a diet that sickens them. Its price is cheapest but its damaging impacts on public health and on the environment cost dearly to taxpayers. Better to consume less, less often, and to buy the highest quality when you do. (Directly from local producers you know and trust is best!)

  • to never eat/buy fish unless it is deemed sustainable according to the guidelines of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program (California), the Marine Conservation Society’s FISHONLINE website (UK), or the Australian Marine Conversation Society’s Sustainable Seafood Guide… and to ask about/for it if need be!

Why?  beware of imported seafood (84 percent of U.S. consumption), as its supply chain can be difficult to track and evaluate. Imported farmed seafood is especially iffy on the health and environmental fronts. More than half comes from Asia, including 23 percent from China. A Government Accountability Office report released in April 2011 found serious gaps in the government’s oversight of these products, asserting that “seafood containing residues of drugs not approved for use in the United States may be entering U.S. commerce.”

  • to cook at least 2 new recipes every month in order to incorporate more and more fresh products in my diet, and to reduce my consumption of processed food.

Why?  yes, a green salad with soft-boiled eggs or rice with steamed carrots and broccoli count!

  • to buy as much of my food as possible from local producers, season permitting, in order to support the local economy.

Why? I give myself bonus points for exploring/creating opportunities to buy my food directly from producers I trust, as the shortest value chain guarantees better products at a better price for me and a better income for them.

  • to be mindful of the socio-economic impact of the production of the food that I buy and consume… and to ask about it if need be!

Why? low prices typically implies cheaply produced food, including cheap labor; farm workers in America do not enjoy the same rights as everyone else in the workforce, hence the need for consumers to pay attention to the kind of labor conditions they support. When buying imported products, looking for fair-trade labels can help identify items that support the people whose labor feeds me.

  • to get involved, either through learning, teaching or collaborating on a project that inspires me and that I deem relevant to our food security.

Why? some ideas in no particular order: gardening, farming, cooking, canning, curing, pickling, baking, cheese making, creating a food coop, educating kids and folks on food issues (between health, local economic development and everything else in between, take your pick!), advocacy.

via Here’s To A Happy, Healthy New Year! | The Green Plate Blog.

Girl Scouts Offer ‘Locavore’ Badges

Once upon a time long, long ago, I was a girl scout.  Truth be told,  I was a very enthusiastic girl scout–except for the selling cookie part which I never could stand–who had badges down and up both sides of my sash.  My mother would have said this was just me being an overachiever, but I like to think I was also interested in mastering some of the things you had to learn to earn each of the badges.

So I was excited to see that scouts can now earn “Locavore” badges, which I definitely would have been all over had they been offered in my day.

So, how does a scout earn a locavore badge? Here’s are the guidelines:

  • Explore the benefits and challenges of going local
  • Find your local food sources.
  • Cook a simple dish showcasing local ingredients.
  • Make a recipe with local ingredients.
  • Try a local cooking challenge
How awesome is that?  I don’t suppose that if I write the Scouts and ask them, they will send me a badge—even though I’ve done all those things and also write this blog.  I wonder if I know anyone with daughters who are scouts who’d like to earn a locavore badge.  I’m available to help!

West Coast & Northeast are Tops for Local Food

There’s a lot of interesting information in this Grist article,  but what really caught my eye is this information about which parts of the country have the highest “local food” concentrations:

“The USDA found that the local food economy is concentrated on the West Coast, as well as in the Northeast. Surely population density plays a role, but the study noted that local sales are higher in these two particular areas than in other equally dense regions of the country. The study’s authors speculate that there might be a “neighborhood effect” (though I might call it a “network effect”) of some kind where the presence of a certain critical mass of local farmers makes it more possible for new ones to get into the game.”

via A local food blueprint | Farm Bill 2012 | Grist.

Certainly, we are blessed here in Portland with lots of “local food options.” But it’s interesting to note where else that can be found.

How local is local?

There’s a lot of discussion about local food going on. But I often wonder, “How local is local?” Is it the “within 100 miles” local, featured in some of the eating challenges? Is it 300 miles? Or 500 miles? Or more?

When I talk about local food, I am actually talking about regional food. I live in Portland, Oregon and so, my region is the Pacific Northwest. This includes Oregon and Washington, as well as parts of Idaho and Northern California. It could also conceivably include lower British Columbia. So a fairly large geographic swath.

I also include foods which are not grown locally–like coffee–but which are processed locally in my “local” foods. I get my coffee through my neighborhood food buying club. It’s shade-grown, fair-trade, organic goodness, roasted locally in Eugene, Oregon. My local eggs also come through the food buying club, but across state lines, since my egg farmer is based in Ridgefield, Washington. And my beef comes from even farther afield, from one of my oldest friend’s family farm in Eastern Washington.

So definitely not a purist, at least by some of the more rigorous definitions of “local.” But headed in the right direction, I think.

When my husband and I started Portland Local Food.com, we wanted to make sure people understood that making healthier food choices doesn’t mean you have to go from fast food to raw food overnight—or ever. Our extended family is made up of omnivores at various points along the local/sustainable/organic continuum and we see every step someone takes toward healthier eating as positive and deserving of support. It’s not an “all-or-nothing” proposition.

We feel the same way about “local.” Fewer miles traveled from field to fork is good, but within reason and achievable. It’s not sustainable eating if it can’t be sustained. So, in this blog, I will be erring on the generous side of local. Call it Local+

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