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Oregon farmer Anthony Boutard’s update on HB 2336: The Direct Farm Marketing Bill

From my kitchen by
February 9, 2011

The “Direct Farm Marketing Bill” passed out of committee on February 7th and is going to the floor of the Oregon House of Representatives for a critical vote. We need people to call their representatives and urge a “yes” vote on HB 2336. The phone number and email for your representative can be found at http://www.leg.state.or.us/house/

Here is why this bill is important:

Over the last two decades, agriculture in Oregon has seen a marked increase in venues for selling agricultural products directly to the consumer. Farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture (CSA), and buying clubs have increased without a clear place in the regulatory structure. Historically, roadside stands selling produce, eggs and honey have been treated as exempt from licensing, but these new venues stretch that definition. HB 2336 provides necessary statutory guidance on this issue with a balanced and sensible regulatory approach to direct marketing.

The provisions of the bill are the result of a year’s worth of meetings between the Oregon Department of Agriculture, the Oregon Farmers’ Market Association, farmers and legislators. This working group was chaired by Representative Matt Wingard.

The bill identifies foods that, from a food safety perspective, are regarded as either non-hazardous, or minimally hazardous, and that can be safely produced by the farmer and sold directly to the consumer without licenses or inspection. With the help of ODA staff, these definitions are tightly drawn. Foods that pose a greater hazard, such as sprouts, low-acid canned vegetables and fruits, and baked goods, are not included and must be processed in a licensed facility. The bill includes labeling requirements so the food can be traced to its source. It must be stressed that farmers’ market rules still prevail, regardless of licensing requirements. These organizations will still determine who can participate in the market, and what they can sell.

With its provisions regarding preserves and pickles, this bill provides room for innovation at a small-scale. New ideas invariably start at this level whether it is in someone’s kitchen or garage. Allowing farmers to try out new products at a small, manageable scale is an important step in fostering innovation. HB 2336 also includes a provision that allows the ODA to expand the list of foods that can be prepared at the farm, consistent with food safety. With the $20,000 annual limit on sales of these foods, the bill set up a clear threshold where the farmer must shift into a licensed facility. Finally, the ODA can withdraw the exemption in cases where the public health is deemed in jeopardy.

At the public hearing for HB 2336, the NW Food Processors and the Farm Bureau came out in opposition to the bill. Their testimony undermined the support of some members of the committee who were not part of the earlier process. Yesterday at the work session, Representative Wingard and the staff from the Oregon Department of Agriculture did a great job clarifying what the bill does and doesn’t do. It was a long session for them, but they answered all the questions carefully and thoroughly. Their measured presentations eased the concerns of many members.

HB 2336 passed its first legislative hurdle yesterday evening when it passed out of the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources on a bipartisan 6 to 2 vote with a “do pass” recommendation. The ‘nay’ votes were also bipartisan, one D and one R, for what it is worth.

The bill now goes to the House floor. The lobbyists for the NW Food Processors and the Farm Bureau will likely try to stop this bill on the House floor. It is critical that citizens express their confidence in the farmers’ markets by calling or emailing their representative. The floor vote will be in a matter of days, so the contact needs to be made quickly. All that is needed is a statement in support of HB 2336, and a nice word or two about farmers’ markets and buying directly from a farmer to underscore the bill’s purpose. If you can relay a positive story or experience, even better. Legislators like to hear they are doing something positive, especially during this session, when they being called upon to cut services.

Once again, the contact information is at: http://www.leg.state.or.us/house/

Thank you,

Anthony and Carol Boutard
Ayers Creek Farm
Gaston, Oregon

Bean there

From my kitchen by
February 9, 2011

By choosing not to open a can of beans, I may have opened a can of worms.

Last week, I followed Martha Rose Shulman's delicious-looking baked beans recipe in the New York Times pretty much to the letter — using cannellini beans that I had purchased a few months ago at the farmers’ market.

I soaked the beans overnight and started cooking at noon, to be sure the dish would be ready for dinner. It wasn’t

In fact, my lovely beans cooked right through the dinner hour and on until bedtime. Finally, I turned off the oven and hoped the beans, still a little firm, would soften by lunch the next day — which they did, more or less. In fact, everyone loved them, but as the cook, I was a bit frazzled by that time.

What had gone wrong? I consulted Kelly Myers’ timeless instructions for cooking beans — and read through the comments, too. Was salt the culprit? The tomato paste? The cast-iron cooking pot? If you have ideas for me, you can leave them here.

A few days later, coincidentally, our recipe editor introduced me to an Emeril Lagasse recipe for quick beans and kale. I’m looking forward to trying those next, maybe adding a crunchy blanket of bread crumbs.

But I’ll go back to my old ways of cooking beans on the stovetop.

Portland Slow Food event

From my kitchen by
June 22, 2010

Portland eaters: I’m planning to make it to this event NEXT MONDAY. Maybe you’ll be there too?

“Food, Labor & Immigration”

What: Join Slow Food Portland for an insightful and thought-provoking evening exploring the direct links between immigration policy and the food America eats. The panel will feature a diverse group including authors, scholars, activists, and labor organizers and advocates. Help shape the discussion with your questions and comments.

When: Monday, June 28, 2010, 7 p.m.

Where: Buchan Reception Hall at the First Unitarian Church downtown, 1226 SW Salmon Street.

Tickets: $5 members/$6 non-members, order tickets online and at the door.

Speakers include:

Paul Apostolidis, author and Judge and Mrs. Timothy A. Paul Chair of Political Science, Whitman College

Aaron Bobrow-Strain, author and Assistant Professor of Politics at Whitman College

Larry Kleinman, Co-Founder and Secretary-Treasurer, PCUN (Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste)

Mary Mendez, Deputy Director, Enlace

Moderated by Peter de Garmo

See you there.

Special last-minute discount tickets for Joel Salatin

From my kitchen by
April 17, 2010

This just in:

Joel Salatin, an American farmer, lecturer, and author who is featured prominently in Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivores Dilemma, as well as in the film FRESH, will be in Portland on Monday, April 19. He will give two lectures at the Tiffany Center at 6 pm and 8 pm.

These lectures are part of a larger FRESH Portland Week in celebration of FRESH opening theatrically at the Hollywood Theater. You can see the entire program on the FRESH website.

Lecture 1: 6 pm
THE SHEER ECSTASY OF BEING A LUNATIC FARMER:
In this mischievous lecture, Joel Salatin compares the industrial global food paradigm with the heritage local food paradigm. Using hilarious stories from his family’s Polyface Farm experience, Salatin examines the contrast on many different levels: fertility, carbon cycling, energy use, relationships, marketing, and spirit. If you ever wondered: “What’s really the difference between pastured poultry and Tyson’s”? — now you’ll know.

Lecture 2: 8 pm
CAN YOU FEED THE WORLD?—ANSWERING ELITISM, PRODUCTION, AND CHOICE:
By far and away the two most common questions asked of Joel Salatin are: How can we afford local artisanal heritage-based food? And: Is it realistic to think we can really feed the world with a non-industrial food system? Because the local clean food movement, for all its allure, is still only some 2 percent of all food sales, envisioning it as a credible, viable alternative to industrial corporatized genetically modified food seems like pie-in-the-sky dreaming. Using his own Polyface Farm principles as a foundation, Joel builds this vision one piece at a time by blending theory and practice. You will never think about the food system the same way again

Location: Tiffany Center: 1410 Southwest Morrison Street Portland, OR 97205-1930 (503)522-4467

Tickets $25 for each lecture, but Culinate readers should use the code “FRESHpromo” when buying tickets online to receive a 20 percent discount.

There’s also an intimate lunch with Joel at Ned Ludd from 12pm to 2pm. Only 32 seats are available.

This is a fundraiser for FRESH and their continued efforts to educate and inspire communities around the world about sustainable agriculture.

Location: 3925 NE MLK Jr Blvd Portland, OR 97212 (503)288-6900

Tickets: $115

Blog for Food

From my kitchen by
February 15, 2010

I read this staggering statistic this weekend:

“Earlier this month, Feeding America, a national alliance of food banks, released ‘Hunger in America 2010,’ finding that 37 million Americans a year now get emergency food help, a number that’s up 46 percent from its last survey in 2006. The numbers, based on surveys during the first half of last year, include 14 million children — up 50 percent from the last time.”

(Thanks, David Sarasohn, of The Oregonian.)

It comes down to this: Many of us are well-fed. Many many of us are not. The Oregon Food Bank helps thousands of people get the food they need. Those of us who can, we need to help the Oregon Food Bank.

Tami Parr, of the Pacific Northwest Cheese Project, is — for the second year — organizing an effort to benefit the OFB. She and we, other bloggers in the PNW, are asking for your help raising money for food — food for the folks who don’t have enough.

Here’s how you can help: Join me in donating to the food bank here, on OFB's donation page. When it asks who you’re giving in honor of, say “Blog for Food.”

We’ll see how much we can raise in the next month — until March 15. We hope it’s a lot, but every little bit helps. Thanks, all. And thanks, Tami — for organizing this good cause.

The meat that you eat

From my kitchen by
January 27, 2010

Look back five years: Has your diet changed? Are you eating more, or less, meat these days? Have your meat-buying habits changed? What meat do you eat?

Has Mark Bittman, with his book, Food Matters, or others — like Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond, authors of Marinades, Rubs, Brines, Cures, and Glazes — all of whom are writing about eating less meat, affected you?

As an aside (and because I love books) here are two more to mention: Tara Austen Weaver’s The Butcher and the Vegetarian: One Woman's Romp Through a World of Men, Meat, and Moral Crisis, and Mollie Katzen’s Get Cooking, which contains beginners recipes for several meaty recipes (yes, Mollie Katzen of vegetarian cookbook fame).

Tell us about the meat you eat — or the meat you don’t.

(In case you were wondering about the photo, it’s Jim Dixon’s incredibly easy and good Short Rib Sugo and Farro.)

Newsletter: January 6, 2010

From my kitchen by
January 6, 2010

It’s a little early to reveal much about what some of us have been up to around here, but I can say that it’s food-related and that we’ve been happily engrossed. (And yes, we’ll announce it before long, so stay tuned.)

But while we’re thinking about and talking about food all day, we sometimes don’t have much time actually to cook. (I know, I know. Join the crowd, right?) If it were summer, that would be one thing; we could simply forage. But winter food takes a little more work — and advance planning.

I’m building up to a pressure cooker — Lorna Sass’s Cooking Under Pressure has nearly convinced me I need one.

But in the meantime, I’m revisiting many of the recipes in our Weeknight Meals collection. While I might occasionally order takeout, it helps me to remember that good, home-cooked food can be fast, and what’s more, that stopping to cook can be a good way to ground an otherwise preoccupied life — mine.

What’s a recipe, really?

From my kitchen by
December 2, 2009

A few weeks ago in the New Yorker, Adam Gopnik wrote about cookbooks and recipes. The piece was fun to read, with lots of rich observations, and I especially appreciated this:

“We say, ‘What’s the recipe?’ when we mean ‘How do you do it?’ And though we want the answer to be ‘Like this!’ the honest answer is ‘Be me!’ ‘What’s the recipe?’ you ask the weary pro chef, and he gives you a weary-pro-chef look, since the recipe is the totality of the activity, the real work. The recipe is to spend your life cooking.”

Some people — lucky for them — are born with good food sense; like our friend Meera, they are great cooks even as kids.

Others of us — we get to grow into it. The only way to become the cooks we want to become is to practice, practice, practice.

Look, if you give a script to seven directors, you’re going to get seven different plays. Even if the stage directions are spelled out in the most minute detail, the results will differ. Sure, all the plays are called the same thing, but each bears the stamp of each director. To an extent, the same goes with a score of music or an architectural blueprint.

And if you give the same recipe to seven cooks, you will get seven different results. Maybe only slightly different, but different, nonetheless.

As cooks, we need not only to taste, smell, and see the food, but we need to hear it and to feel it — and that can’t easily be described — if ever it can. Our knowledge needs to be more than how to measure, how to chop, how to sauté. (And yet, those things cannot be underestimated.)

If I were to take that view to its extreme, then I would have to suggest that cookbooks are a waste of time, but I certainly don’t believe that!

I guess what I am suggesting is that alongside the message for “this is quick,” or “this is easy,” or “this is how you do this,” more cookbooks should emphasize “practice, practice, practice.”

Pre-Thanksgiving newsletter

From my kitchen by
November 25, 2009

In case you didn’t see it, here’s the text from today’s newsletter:

I’m in the middle of My Life in France, Julia Child’s account of living in Paris during the 1950s. The text is rich with descriptions of that time and place, but I’m also loving Julia’s approach to cooking. One page I marked was about her self-imposed rule never to apologize for a dish:

“I don’t believe in twisting yourself into knots of excuses and explanations over the food you make. When one’s hostess starts in with self-deprecations such as ‘Oh, I don’t know how to cook …’ or ‘Poor little me …’ or ‘This may taste awful …’ it is so dreadful to have to reassure her that everything is delicious and fine, whether it is or not. Besides, such admissions only draw attention to one’s shortcomings (or self-perceived shortcomings), and make the other person think, ‘Yes, you’re right, this really is an awful meal!’ …

“Usually one’s cooking is better than one thinks it is. And if the food is truly vile, as my ersatz eggs Florentine surely were, then the cook must simply grit her teeth and bear it with a smile — and learn from her mistakes.”

Hear that, cooks? No apologies!

And the happiest of Thanksgivings to you and yours.

the food I just can’t learn to like

From my kitchen by
October 23, 2009

On Culinate, JudithK just posted about an intriguing ingredient I’ve never tried before — black celery — but though I’m intrigued, I probably won’t ever seek it out — even if I am fortunate enough to travel to Trevi.

Over on The Oregonian’s food blog, Leslie Cole sings the praises of another ingredient — celeriac — but I probably won’t be buying any of that either.

My problem? Celery just doesn’t do it for me. In fact, unless it’s sautéed with carrots and onion in a sort of mirepoix — or hidden in restaurant food — I avoid the stuff.

My poor family loves celery, but we rarely have extra on hand — because I don’t buy it.

Are there foods you’d like to like — but you just don’t?

Culinate Member:

Kim

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