Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wintertime Local Eating- Interview with Gretchan Jackson

"Eating local" and "eating in season" are popular phrases these days, aren't they? However, do you find yourself eating locally more in the summer than in the winter? If so, you're not alone. Many Farmer's Markets around the area are only open during the spring and summer months, when the crowds and crops are at their peak. The demand for local food decreases as cold weather sets in and the non-flashy crops of winter make their debuts. Jessica Prentice, author of Full Moon Feast, says it best:
"At the height of summer, when there are bountiful fresh juicy tomatoes, sweet corn, crisp green beans, and peaches that are bursting with flavor,
we may flock to the farmer's markets and celebrate the joys of the harvest. But our enthusiasm doesn't last through the Hunger Moon... During the Hunger Moon we return to the supermarkets to buy produce imported from tropical countries where the sun still shines. Our interest in seasonality is seasonal."

It's no wonder that we find ourselves eating more locally and in season during the summer...it's just, well...easier! Here in the Montavilla neighborhood, we have the privilege of having a farmer's market which hosts a Winter S
tock-Up day about once a month during the market's "off season". To gain more insight about the issue of eating locally in the winter I talked with Gretchan Jackson, the Market Manager for the Montavilla Farmer's Market, and here's what she had to say:

1. Tell us
a little about yourself! What is your position with the Montavilla Farmers Market, how long have you been involved with it, and what is your favorite part about your job?
My nam
e is Gretchan Jackson and I am the Market Manager at the Montavilla Farmers Market. I live in the neighborhood and have been an avid locavore since discovering the bounty of local farmers markets in college. Montavilla Farmers Market is in its 5th year and I have been on board as a market founder and manager since its inception in 2007. My favorite part of the job is working to connect local farmers and producers with a community of supporters here in Montavilla.

2. It seems like there is a trend to “eat locally” only in the summer months when it is most convenient. Why is it important to support local vendors and farmers year round versus just during the summer months?
With Portland's mild winters, there's no reason to stop eating locally and in season after October. The real secret is that winter crops are at their sweetest once it gets cold outside. Shopping at year round farmers markets encourages local farmers to extend their season to provide us with the best and least traveled food available. Supporting the local farm and producer economy in the leaner months, ensures that growers and small businesses can remain financially viable, allowing them to return and thrive as the crowds and crops return in summer.

3. What are the biggest setbacks for farmers and vendors participating in the Winter Stock-Up Market?
When the weather shifts and skies are grey, cold and wet, folks forget that there's warmth to be had a local market, conversing with neighbors and vendors about the delicious abundance found here in the Pacific Northwest. No matter the weather, it is important to show up to support the farmers and vendors who have traveled to your locale to meet you.

4. Are you finding that the Winter Stock-Up Market is well-received/attended and do you expect that more markets around Portland will become year-round or have winter stock-up days?
We have been very pleased with the offerings found at our Winter Stock-Up Markets in December and January and also happily surprised with the customer turn out. A Winter Market offers a unique chance to experience a farmers market with smaller crowds. Often times the farmer or producer themselves will be vending, so you can speak directly with them about their farming practices and varieties they offer, without a rush. Prices are often lower with storage crops too, and bulk buying is encouraged. Certainly, as the demand for winter farmers markets increases, other farmers markets will follow suit by offering cold weather dates. We've already seen that phenomenon with the November Harvest Markets prior to Thanksgiving that many markets now feature.

5. What can the Portland community do to show their appreciation and support of year round markets and the Winter Stock-Up Market, and how can they get involved?
Come visit the Montavilla Farmers Market at the February 13th Winter Stock-Up Market from 11am - 1pm, at the 7600 Block of SE Stark Street here in Portland. You will find 25+ varieties of local apples and pears, beef, pork, soft and aged goat cheese, dry-cured sausage, likely some storable crops like carrots, turnips, garlic and onions and more at the Market. Plan to stock up as it's our last Winter Market until our regular season begins in June! Come participate by joining us as shoppers.

Thanks again to Gretchan Jackson for giving us some insight into eating local during the Winter! My hope is that there will no longer be an "off-season" for farmer's markets as the demand for local food in the winter increases. Let's finish the "Hunger Moon" well, and savor the rich and nourishing flavors of winter.

Join me on February 13th in attending the final
Winter Stock-Up market from 11 am - 1 pm. See you all there!


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Exploring Plant Protein

Greetings from San Diego!

For those I haven't met, I used to be a part of the food group in person until we moved from Portland to San Diego 5 months ago. I miss being there in person but have been thankful to stay in touch with some of you and continue learning and sharing. Due to a health condition, my husband is unable to have animal protein. I have been venturing out into unknown territory and trying out new sources of animal protein.

Millet is a gluten free, easy to digest grain rich in Phytic acid and almost 15% protein!

Black Bean and Millet Salad

Black Bean and Millet Salad
1 cup millet, uncooked
3 cups water
2 cups black beans, cooked
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 medium onion, (or substitute green onions), chopped
1 medium cucumber

1/3 cup water
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin

Cook the millet in 3 cups of water until water is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Fluff with fork and allow to cool. (Boil water first, then add millet and simmer. I had to look this part up as the recipe wasn't very specific!)In a large bowl, combine millet, black beans, tomatoes, and onion.Peel several strips from the cucumber (it should look striped) and cut it lengthwise into four pieces. Remove the seeds and cut into 1/2-inch slices. Add the cucumber to the salad.

Mix all dressing ingredients until well blended and pour over the salad, tossing to blend. (Experiment with the seasonings to suit taste.) Cover and refrigerate until the salad is well chilled. Serve on lettuce leaves or stuff into pita bread.

Another new item for our family this week was Tempeh. I wish I could say I found a fermentation starter and made my own, but not quite yet! I purchased a non flavored block of organic Tempeh from our local health foods store to use in the recipe. It has 20 g of protein in a serving. (Non GMO, Organic Soybeans)

This picture is of Tempeh Scalloppine with Shallot Mushroom Gravy. There is a organic and local foods restaurant near where Steve works called Native Foods and it comes from their cookbook. Due to the fact that we are downsizing to an apartment in 4 days, I already packed it! I will try to remember to come back and add the recipe. I found Tempeh to be nutty, wholesome, and flavorful.

Tempeh Scalloppine with Shallot Mushroom Gravy

My family has made quite a few changes in the last few weeks. We are enjoying raw milk and raw cream and think we have located a good source for raw goats milk! My son Luke, will be turning 3 on Wednesday and it took switching to raw milk and a mostly raw foods diet to improve some health issues he has had his whole life. We are also thankful to have found a local, organic farm near where we live. (It took 5 months to figure out such a thing DOES exist in Southern California!) We became CSA shareholders and had our first delivery last Wednesday. The last recipe I wanted to share with you comes out of the CSA cookbook we received with the first delivery. It was a big hit with the entire family, even 13 month old Ellie!

Cauliflower Potato Curry

2 T peanut oil ( I used almond oil)
1 tsp each: curry powder, turmeric, cumin, dried thyme
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2/3 cup chopped onion
2 cups cubed waxy potatoes (Yukon gold was in CSA delivery, they can be both waxy and starchy so they worked great)
1 cup vegetable or chicken stock, or water ( I used water)
2 cups chopped cauliflower
1 medium carrot,chopped
2 slices fresh gingerroot
1/4 pound fresh beans, chopped
1 T fresh lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in skillet. Stir in dry spices. Add onion and garlic; cook over medium heat until tender. Add potatoes and stock, cover and cook 10 minutes. Stir in cauliflower, carrot, and ginger. Cover and cook 5 minutes. Stir in beans. Cover and cook 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove cover; continue to simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over white rice and top with green onion. (We used brown rice. Next time I was thinking of trying Millet or Quinoa). Makes 4 servings.


Lisa Engelman is a Founding Member of Sustainable Food For Thought's Portland Food Group, and we are blessed to be able to continue sharing our learning and conversations through email and blogging as she and her husband and two beautiful kids now make their home in sunny Southern California ...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Our Portland Hand Crafted Food Swap Featured on Cooking Up a Story

Participants in December's Hand Crafted Food Swap may remember a kind pair circulating around the room capturing the event on video camera.

Our guests were Cooking Up a Story's Rebecca Gerendasy and her husband/assistant extraordinaire. They joined the evening to produce a Small Bites film clip about the Food Swap to add to CUPS' wonderful online series of "shows about people, food, and sustainable living."

A few weeks back, CUPS shared a preview, and today, the full piece is up:

Heartfelt thanks to Rebecca for sharing her energy and love of local foods and helping to spread the Food Swap inspiration with others around the country.

Please take some time to explore Cooking Up a Story's terrific collection of informative and encouraging videos at www.cookingupastory.com.

"Cooking up a Story explores...larger questions and concerns, as we continue to focus on the people whose living examples provide inspiration, education, and possible models forward toward building a more sustainable future."

{ Details }

Portland's First Hand Crafted Food Swap

Inspiration from Hip Girls' Guide to Homemaking

Want to receive updates on future swaps?
Like the PDX Swappers Facebook Page

Thursday, January 13, 2011

February Food Group: DIY Natural Lip Balm

Have you heard that factoid about how women consume
an average of 6 lbs. of lipstick
over their lifetimes?

Yeah, me too.

It's more than a bit unsettling to think about that bright grease ending up in our stomachs (and livers? and wherever else?). Granted, considering I wear lipstick all of about 2.3 days a year, I'm pretty sure my lifetime dietary intake will be substantially lower that the average.

But my intake of lip balm is probably quite another story.

I met my best friend over a tube of chapstick. You know, that sparkly, smelly, shiny LipSmackers stuff that Jr. High girls loved in the early 90s? My tastes refined over time, oh yes. I went through a Carmex phase, then an Aveda phase after that... But when I learned how to make my own with trusted ingredients, a few simple supplies, and about 20 minutes of time, my new favorite became a medicine cabinet and purse pocket staple.

I've been making lip balm since college, when my kind friend, Jay, introduced me to the recipe and products available from his employer, GloryBee Foods (a local Pacific Northwest company based out of Eugene, Oregon).

Dubbed "Better Than Burt's," it's stacked with benefits:

Fine ingredients.

Simple containers.

Zero pricey brand name labels.

And even if you ate 6 lbs of it tomorrow,
you'd probably be none the worse for wear...

Did I mention? It's oh-so-easy to make.

In honor of Valentine's Day and kissable lips (or maybe because we simply crave more wintertime kitchen projects during the cold and dreary "Hunger Moon") ~ February's Food Group will be a hands-on learning session with instruction and supplies for creating your own Homemade Lip Balm.

Food Group: Join us the first Wednesday night of the month for ideas, resources, and camaraderie on the food front. As always, feel free to bring a friend, bring something to eat, bring a story about your food-life, or just bring yourself and enjoy the good company and conversation...

{A Sampling of Lip Balm Supplies}

During our DIY night, the group will be given opportunity to customize essential oil blends and make batches of pure beeswax/sweet almond oil/aloe vera/vitamin E oil lip balm.

You Are Welcome~
Wednesday, February 2nd, 7:00-8:30pm
Bethany's Home
92nd & NE Burnside, Portland, Oregon
Please RSVP for Directions & To Reserve Your Spot
*This Event is Now Full*

All supplies and ingredients will be provided.
A donation of $8 per person is asked to help to cover the bulk materials costs,
and you'll be free to take home a dozen tubes of lip balm at the end of the night.
Maybe pair them with chocolates for the perfect Valentine?

Food For Thought

According to an October 5, 2010 article, Amazon.com sells 3,963 lip balm products!
(ChapStick, Vaseline, Alba Botanica, Burt's Bees, C.O. Bigelow, Neutrogena, Labellow, and Soft Lips, to name a few popular brands).

A tinkering gentleman in the 1880s invented the original ChapStick by creating something like a wickless candle wrapped in tinfoil...though I'm guessing that the modern recipe* may have a few additions to his original formula. (*arachidyl propionate, camphor, carnauba wax, cetyl alcohol, D&C red no. 6 barium lake, FD&C yellow no. 5 aluminum lake, fragrance, isopropyl lanolate, isopropyl myristate, lanolin, light mineral oil, methylparaben, octyldodecanol, oleyl alcohol, parrafin, phenyl trimethicone, proplyparaben, titanium dioxide, white wax)

"Natural" modern alternatives are commercially available, including Burt's Bees Beeswax Lip Balm.* Interesting to note, however, that in 2007, Burt's Bees was purchased by the Clorox Company. (*beeswax, cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, mentha piperita (peppermint) oil, lanolin, tocopherol, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, glycine soja (soybean) oil, canola oil)

The GloryBee recipe* we'll be using contains five ingredients (*pure, filtered beeswax; sweet almond oil; vitamin E oil, aloe vera concentrate, essential oil)

A fun article from the New York Times highlights education, learning the contents of typical cosmetics, and favoring DIY over mystery ingredients: Experimenting With Makeup: What Puts the 'Ick' in Lipstick?

What Do You Put on Your Lips?

What is worth making at home vs. purchasing out of convenience?

More Importantly...What Comes Across Our Lips?
"Kind words are like honey; sweet to the taste and good for your health."
{Proverbs 16:24}

Hope to see you on the 2nd!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Food Group January Recap - Decluttering & Streamlining

2011 is off to a fresh start!

After a bustling December Food Group (our first Food Swap), January's first Wednesday proved a calm night of conversation and camaraderie. We shared tips and thoughts on "Decluttering Your Home and Streamlining Your Kitchen" and brought our bags and boxes of pared-down household goods to share and donate.


Why is clutter a problem for you?
-Stress? -Embarrasment? -Financial reasons?

What's your clutter excuse?
-This item is probably valuable/collectible? -I've had this for a really long time -It reminds me of a place or time -I paid good money for this -Someone gave this to me -I might need one of these someday

Where does clutter accumulate?

How do we change?
-Get rid of more stuff? -Buy less? -Contentment?

{Helpful Resources on Organizing and Decluttering}

simplemom.net and Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider (no, that's not a typo). Tsh offers a very holistic approach to creating a simple and organized home. Highly recommended!




{A Smattering of Ideas from The Group}

Asking yourself, "Is this (thing) earning it's keep in my home?" What's the square foot dollar value of my living space? Is it worth that much to me to have "X" taking up room? What about the emotional space it takes up in my life?

Store kids' toys above ground level and get them down for use during certain times; clean up and put away directly afterward to keep things

Great sources for giving/receiving: freecycle.org, PDX Clothing Swap, and various local email lists.

Capture the energy at different times of year to motivate you to sort. For some, it's autumn and the return to home after the summer season, for others, it's the new year, and for others still, traditional "Spring Cleaning" comes to mind.

Invite a friend to exchange decluttering time with you; a second opinion on what to keep and what to throw out may be just what you need.

Don't be afraid to re-evaluate uses of space; maybe flip flopping entire rooms or areas of the house is the change that will help the whole space function more efficiently.

Pay attention to how you well you work in your own surroundings; organize and create physical spaces that will cater to your personal style.


"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful
or believe to be beautiful."
-William Morris

"Everything we posses that is not necessary for life or happiness becomes a burden,
and scarcely a day passes that we do not add to it."
-Robert Brault

"Material blessings, when they pay beyond the category of need,
are weirdly fruitful of headache."
-Philip Wylie

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."
-Leonardo DaVinci

"The sculpture produces the beautiful statue by chipping away
such parts of the marble block as are not needed
- it is a process of elimination."
-Elbert Hubbard

{Updates & Notes}

Our neighborhood Real Foods comrade, Chris, from Lost Arts Kitchen joined us for the evening as well. A reminder: for those of you in the area, Chris teaches great courses on real food preparation and runs a neighborhood buying club. For more details, visit her website: www.lostartskitchen.com.

Thanks to everyone who donated their pared-down-goods. Several boxes of helpful household items went to My Father's House Family Shelter and will continue to be put to good use.

Hope to see many of you at February's Food Group. Remember to check the "Events" tab up top for details on upcoming get-togethers...



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