The Locavores Meet
Sometimes, something as simple as an afternoon potluck meal can unexpectedly change the way you see things in the world. After this weekends' "Battle of the Locavores" at the Pringle Creek Community in SE Salem I will never see food the same again. In fact, yesterday at work, I paused in front of the snack machine, looked over my usual selection of sweets to satisfy a sugar fixation, and I walked away without making a purchase.
So what is a Locavore? The name sounds scary. I told my kids, that's what I'm going to be this Halloween. In reality, it's a group of people who believe in eating food that's locally grown and produced. Not just because it's environmentally sustainable but because the fresher food tastes much better. There was a variety of people who showed up for the potluck, including farmers, several builders, educators, and local entrepreneurs. Most people, I don't think, even thought of themselves as "Locavores," just regular folks who want to support the local economy. People did what they could to produce entrees grown locally. Foods ranged from chocolate covered local strawberries to mushroom pizza. The pizza won first prize and was gobbled up quickly. Many people brought in garden salads with the freshest cucumbers and there was even a salsa made entirely from plants in one family's backyard. The tortilla chips were from local business Don Pancho's.
Being a locavore doesn't have to be hard work either. One fellow brought in some apples from his tree that made a perfect dessert to our homegrown meal. Because they were fresh picked, they tasted better than any apple you might buy at the grocery store. Same thing with the local grapes.
What I learned was, that it's possible to create a meal out of local ingredients without tremendous effort. What you need mainly is the knowledge of where to find the local ingredients. And there are places all over town including farmers markets where local produce is abundant and priced competitively with the best deals at the grocery stores. Once I started looking at where products were made I realized that we produce a lot of food in the fertile Willamette Valley. Just look at how non native blackberries plants can take over a backyard or the fields of corn, now growing along county roads. All that rain we get in the winter, pays off in the harvest months. Obviously I couldn't convert to an entirely local diet overnight, but if I start to move in that direction, I imagine it will become easier to find local ingredients. If this "locavore" thing catches on, farmers might decide to diversify their crops to satisfy the growing demand for products grown locally. Can we grow bananas here?