I am not alone. No, you all have joined me, both in my passion to create a more sustainable food life for my family, and in my quest for information. As soon as I wrote my last post, you flooded my email inbox and twitter replies and instant messaging with ideas, links, answers. Thanks to you, and the research you've inspired me to do, I have information to share. Brilliant bits of information wash over my brain, sputtering until I can taste it on my tongue, keeping me up late at night baking bread, dreaming about ways to make jelly and relish with honey instead of sugar, wondering if there is a vineyard nearby which makes vinegar? Here are just a few of the ways I've learned to eat local here in Portland:
- Noris Dairy delivers fresh milk, cream, cheese, yogurt, and a variety of other dairy products out of the company's Eugene home base. Best of all they offer the choice of glass bottles. I'm hoping to begin home delivery of several gallons of whole milk and a quart of cream next week.
- Larsen's Creamery makes Cremerie Classique butter, a French-style butter that is both (a) amazingly delicious and (b) outrageously well-priced. It's sold at Pastaworks (in 1-pound blocks, cheaper) and New Seasons (in standard 1/4 sticks, a little more expensive). Not only is the butter made here (Clackamas, Oregon), but it has a history that is the very definition of local. Its original maker was Raven Creamery, located in downtown Portland, in what is now Pioneer Square. Seriously.
- Pastaworks shows a deep commitment to local produce and pastured meats, and out of farmer's market season, it's where I'll get nearly all of my meats and fresh produce. They lovingly label vegetables as to their source (though they offer a lot of California organics, too), and the butchers are the most knowledgeable in town as to the provenance of their meat. They also have a lovely selection of Oregon preserves.
- Fairhaven Cooperative Flour Mill, in Bellingham Washington, has lovely organic flour made mostly from Northwest-grown wheat (they also have a variety made of Montana Hard Red wheat, as well). Sold in 8-pound bags at New Seasons, and 4-pound bags at Pastaworks.
- Bob's Red Mill offers a huge variety of flours, grains and dried beans, although very few are grown in Oregon. I wrote the company asking for more information and received a list of the sources of the grain and bean products I had wondered about. Hazelnuts, Barley (pearled and hull-less), spelt and soft white wheat are all Oregon and Washington sources. Though the oats say that they're grown in the Pacific Northwest, it's actually Canada and not the U.S. (though after reading Plenty I have quite the affection for Canadian grains).
- Stahlbush Farms frozen vegetables from Corvallis are organic, sustainably-farmed, and available in the New Seasons freezer.
- The Meadown on N. Mississippi has Washington-harvested sea salt. It's alder-smoked and $35 for two pounds (I'm headed there for the Very Large amount come payday). Read the rapturous blog, and you'll never buy Morton's again. In fact you, like me, will be on your way, paycheck in hand, to buy all the salt you can afford.
- Special Select Potatoes ("Huckleberry" red) from J.M. Produce in Merrill, Oregon bring new meaning to the word "potato." I bought two 2-lb bags last night at Limbo for $1 each. I made potato and leek salad (boil the potatoes whole, just until barely tender; if they're still crisp in the very middle, all the better, slice onions or leeks thinly, mix in a little mayonnaise, salt, pepper, or just cider vinegar and olive oil). With every bite Jonathan and I exclaimed. I'm crying just thinking about how perfect these potatoes are.
- Willamette Valley Fruit Company in Salem, Oregon sells local frozen berries in two-pound bags at New Seasons. They're expensive, but they'll do until berry season is upon us (and my own blueberry and raspberry bushes start yielding).
I have not eaten any traditional salads this month. I have, however, eaten better than any month in my life (excepting time spent in London, Italy, France, Vienna). Aged ribeye roast with Strawberry Mountain beef. Salad after salad of roasted beets, with goat cheese, with aforementioned potato salad. Shepherd's pies made in untraditional ways, with chard and beet greens and heirloom carrots instead of peas. For breakfast, cheater's chocolate streusel bars (because chocolate is technically cheating), scones with cherry zinfandel jam. Homemade bread with lots of rich butter. Elk stew.
I do not know if it is because of the ingredients, or because I am spending so much time in the kitchen, but whatever it is, I'm thrilled, I'm throwing away very few leftovers, and it all feels like the right answer.