By Jackie Variano, Slow Food member and Special Contributor This article is part of a series highlighting our sponsors’ contributions to the community.
Although it’s now a part of our daily digest of words, in 1982 the word “organic” didn’t hold much weight, and definitely wasn’t part of the mainstream.
Enter the Organically Grown Company, which was started in 1982 as a growers’ cooperative to mitigate competition between struggling organic farmers.
“Bringing organic produce to the people” has become their unofficial slogan, according to Tonya Hayworth of OGC.
“We are not your typical produce distributor-wholesaler,” says Hayworth.
“We are actively involved in environmental and agricultural politics and walk the talk of sustainability. OGC works to not only be a player in the discussion about the big issues. We are committed to pushing ourselves to always do more, be more, expect more-in terms of our values, the values of our growers and customers.”
They source 35 percent of their products directly from PNW farms, and contribute to Slow Food’s goal of good, clean, and fair in a number of ways.
“Organically Grown and Slow Food are very much aligned through the basic fundamentals of our business structures. OGC is an employee and grower owned organization that prides itself on not taking the easy road with everything from grower relations to distribution,” says Hayworth.
They’ve partnered with B-Line delivery in Portland in order to still access smaller, centrally located customers through a cleaner transportation model.
In addition, they’ve made great strides to give back to communities.
“Since 2005, we have purchased our bananas exclusively from Organics Unlimited GROW program, resulting in almost $700,000 contributed back to the communities where the fruit is grown. We contribute at least 2.5% of our previous year’s profits to 501c-3 non-profit organizations that are also in alignment. Our efforts towards a more sustainable food system are continual,” says Hayworth.
How can you support OGC? Let us count the ways.
“Buying organic (& LADYBUG brand) produce is a wonderful direct way to support our business, but our involvement in the communities we serve and the organic trade expands well beyond that.”
“We host many events including our big, biennial Organicology conference, Organically Grown in Oregon Week and more that folks can be a part of. We are very active in political efforts to keep our food supply, farmland, water, seed, food safety and so many other issues and appreciate everyone that takes the time to write a congressman and vote on these topics.”
And no matter how big OGC’s world view is, they always honor their commitment to small and local.
“Our customer base has evolved at the same time we see many larger scale growers transitioning to organic growing practices. We see balance in that equation through staying strong to our roots; we still work with many very small scale growers and deliver to many of the same small Co-Ops and Independent Retailers that we did when the company was formed,” she says.
Be sure to find OGC through social media channels like Twitter and Facebook to be kept up with all events and news.
Meet Megan Kemple. One of Slow Food Eugene’s delegates to Terra Madre. Our other delegate is Erin Walkenshaw, who you will be able to read about next month. We chose Megan and Erin because of their dedication and long time commitment to bringing the finest, freshest, healthiest foods possible to our community.
Megan grew up in Portland and moved to Eugene 15 years ago. For the last five years, she has directed the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition’s (WFFC) Farm to School Program. Her passion is to educate kids about where food comes from and how it is grown. What is unique about the Farm To School Program is that she is connecting students and local farms by getting more locally grown food into school meals.
Megan was recently designated Oregon’s State Lead for the National Farm to School Network (NFSN), providing technical assistance and support to Farm to School programs throughout Oregon. She also serves as the Lead Staff for the Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Network. WFFC’s Farm to School program is a model in Oregon and nationally.
Terra Madre is a Slow Food International’s biennial meeting of food advocates that meets every other year in Turin, Italy. Megan is a perfect fit.
At the conference, Megan and Erin will meet other Slow Food supporters, farmers, fisherman, herders, ranchers, academics, chefs, and food advocates from around the world. Delegates from 130 countries come together to share innovative solutions and time-honored traditions for feeding the planet in a good, clean, and fair way. And per tradition, the delegates are selected by Slow Food associations to join the 200,000+ visitors expected to attend this global gathering the size of two Fiat automobile factories.
Next time you see Megan, say hello, bon voyage, or welcome home. Whatever the greeting, you will be met with a warm smile.
Congratulations, Megan. We’re honored to have you as part of our Slow Food Eugene family.
The University of Oregon is sponsoring the Food Justice Conference this month. The 3 day event will be held on Feb 19-21.
Food Justice explores the history and future of our food system with a focus on three themes: community, equity and sustainability.
Food Justice will feature a unique forum called the Food Fair & Conference Exhibition Hall. The fair will take place during the final day of the conference and will highlight the work of local as well as national nonprofits, farms and food purveyors. Participating organizations will set up a poster display or hands-on demonstration about their work and will be available to interact with conference goers throughout the day.
Slow Food Eugene will participate with a table at the Food Fair on Feb 21. The fair is located at the Erb Memorial Union (EMU) from 9am to 3pm. It’s free and open to the public. We hope to see you there!
October 10, 1-3pm–Bubbles, Bivalves, Birds and a Bake Sale @ Meriwether Wines. Don’t miss this opportunity to share an afternoon of jazz and great food at Domaine Meriwether in Veneta. We’ll be drinking their renowned bubbly and eat oysters prepared by Adam’s Sustainable Table restaurant. Music will be provided by Ken Luker and Paul Biondi Jazz.
You’ll be able to satisfy your sweet tooth at our Bake Sale. Our theme is pies and tarts. Local bakeries will be highlighted, but you can contribute, too. Email Florence Luker for information. You can also call 509-680-1547.
For those who fancy our fine feathered friends, there will even be a pre tasting bird walk with Davey Wendt–”Birds of the Winery Walk & Identification” from 10am – 12pm.
The price for all this is $25. Tickets are available at Brown Paper Tickets. Search for Slow Food Eugene.
Noon-1pm Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the lovely vineyard
12:30-3pm Jazz with Ken Luker and Paul Biondi
1-3pm Oysters paired with Domain Meriwether Sparkling Wines and talks by Buzz Kawders from Meriwether and Adam Bernstein from Adam’s Sustainable Table
1-3pm Bake Sale
DATE: Sunday, October 10, 2010
TIME: See above
PLACE: Meriwether Winery, 88324 Vineyard Lane
Veneta Oregon 97487. Meriwether is 5 miles west of Veneta on Highway 126.
COST: $25 per person. Tickets are available at Brown Paper Tickets. Search for Slow Food Eugene.
What an opportunity to taste 20 or more pears that are little known to our commercial markets, enjoy a sweet or savory dish made from pears and help select a pear candidate for the Slow Food USA Ark of Taste!
Food lover trivia question: Where is the most diverse collection of pear cultivars on earth? If you answered, “Right under my nose,” pat yourself on the back. If you answered, “No clue,” you are in for a treat. Join Slow Food Eugene and Slow Food Corvallis in discovering and tasting a sample of the more than 2,000 varieties of pear cultivars lurking unnoticed and unrecognized in the USDA’s Pear Genebank in Corvallis. Our efforts will be used in the search for Ark of Taste candidates. Assisting our exploration will be USDA Corvallis staff members and an appropriate representation of wines, cheeses, and chocolates. Brindiamo Catering & Ciao Restaurant will provide special sweets and savories featuring the pears.
The Genebank’s goal is to promote cultivation of fruit beyond the mere six varieties which now account for most of the commercially grown pears in this country. This effort dovetails with Slow Food USA’s efforts to collect heirloom species of foods which are submitted to the US Ark of Taste. The Ark is an international catalog of foods that are threatened by industrial standardization, the regulations of large-scale distribution, and environmental damage. Along with tasting, USDA experts will describe each of the species and its specific history as well as the current effort to promote their sustainable existence. Although the tasting is important for submitting a species of pear to the Ark, other key factors might come into play in selecting a candidate. Your vote will be important when deciding whether to submit a candidate for the Ark.
This event will take place at the University of Oregon Urban Farm. The Farm is an acre and a half garden/farm located just north of Franklin Boulevard on the bike path to Autzen Stadium. The Urban Farm is an outdoor university classroom where students learn to grow their own food organically and sustainably. The Urban Farm is enjoying its’ 26th anniversary this year.
Where: University of Oregon Urban Farm, 1475 Franklin Boulevard, Eugene. The Farm is between Onyx and Agate Streets and is behind Looking Glass School. Park in the Looking Glass lot or in UO Parking Lot 5a, just to the west.
Date: Saturday, September 11, 2010
Time: 2-5 pm.
Tickets: $8 adults, kids under 12 are free; Wine will be available for purchase by the glass. Tickets are available at Brown Paper Tickets. Select “Search Events” and enter Slow Food Eugene. Please help Slow Food Eugene fund our important community projects. We have provided special pricing at Brown Paper Tickets so you can add an additional $10 per ticket. Your support will go to the School Garden Project, the Farm to School Program, and our Terra Madre delegates.
Contact: Slow Food Eugene Jim Crane firstname.lastname@example.org
P.O. Box 5346 Eugene, OR 97405 United States
Pear images courtesy of Slow Food USA. “Clapp’s Favorite” photo by Ben Watson.
Tickets are now on sale for the fourth annual One Field Meal–August 22 at the Polyrock Ranch and Lost Creek Farm.
We are limiting ticket sales this year, so be sure to get your tickets early.
The host farm this year is the Polyrock Ranch and Lost Creek Farm on Territorial Road. Alan and Deborah Mattson produce beefalo, beef and dairy products. David Desmond of Lost Creek Farms grows a great variety of organic produce on their land. And the ranch is drop dead gorgeous. You’re gonna love this place. All of the food will come from this one farm. The meal will be truly delicious and the company (you and your friends) will make it even better.
The meal will feature Beefalo. The hybrid breed of Beefalo combines the best qualities of bison and beef cattle. Beefalo offers the hardiness of bison with the quality beef of cattle that results in the leanest, healthiest meat around. We’ll send you a complete menu soon.
This year we have two chefs—Shane Tracey of Nib and John-Patrick Downey-McCarthy of Devour. Shane and his wife Tiffany have quickly become leaders in Eugene food culture. Their exquisite dessert creations are bite-sized pieces of art. And their savory menu at Nib is a great companion to their thoughtful wine pairings. http://www.nibdesserts.com/
John-Patrick Downey-McCarthy has made Devour one of the freshest, most interesting restaurants in Eugene. I can only give you his web address—because he has no street address. His refurbished 1971 VW micro bus is on the prowl everyday throughout Eugene and Springfield. And don’t be fooled by the bus. J.P. is an accomplished chef with formal training and extensive restaurant experience. Preview his cooking by checking out his roaming schedule on his blog and get a sandwich. http://devoureugene.blogspot.com/
Of course, we’ll have music. The Conjugal Visitors will bring their unique mix of Mountain Dance music, bluegrass, jazz, old-time country and jug/folk out for the afternoon.
Bring your kids. This is an event for the entire family. Everyone will be invited to walk through the garden and see the animals. Please be aware that this is a working farm and you will have to supervise the kids that you bring along.
And one more bit of news. Through a great partnership with Megan Kemple and the Farm-to-School program two second grade classes from Bethel Schools helped plant some of the vegetables we’ll be having for dinner. Megan took them on a field trip to the farm in June to plant some seeds and help out on the farm for the day. Some of them will come back with their families to join us for the One Field Meal. I’ve always wanted to use this event to show kids that food grows out the dirt. This year we’ll make it happen.
Coming Right Up At Ninkasi Brewery–Sunday, August 1, 5pm to 8pm.
Every wonder which of our local food carts offers the best meals? Ever yearn for a cool beer to help wash down that freshly prepared sandwich just emerging from the dark recesses of the food wagon?
Here’s the answer to your deepest desires–Slow Food Eugene and Ninkasi Brewery bring you “Carts and A Cool One.” This is a cook off between cart vendors from all over the area. The vendors’ dishes will consist of at least 75 percent locally grown products. Proceeds of the event go towards the School Garden Project, the Farm to School Program, and sending local delegates to Terra Madre.
Each tempting 3-bite sample will be paired with an ale carefully selected by Ninkasi’s experts. You will be able to note how the distinctive melange of malt and hops in each ale interacts with the subtle nuances of the cart vendor’s delicacies.
Or, you can plunge in, eat your fill, sip a cold one, and find a shady spot to enjoy the fine summer Sunday evening.
The choice is yours.
Your only task will be to vote for your favorite cart. Ninkasi has donated the grand prize. The winner of this cut throat, no holds barred, slam down is an ad in the Eugene Weekly. There will be claw marks everywhere.
TICKETS: $15 packet–in advance from Brown Paper Tickets. Tickets will be available Friday, July 23.
$18 packet–at the door
$4 for individual tastes (only available at the door). Only packet holders will be eligible to vote.
Please bring cash for ticket purchases at the door. No checks.
During my recent trip to Ann Arbor I found that Slow Food concepts are alive and thriving in Michigan. My visit to the Saturday Farmers Market located in historic Kerrytown was an eyeful of seasonal flowers and veggie starts, organic dairy products, farm raised meats, and fresh baked goods. That’s right, I felt right at home. The marketplace was bustling with folks of all ages and persuasions selecting bedding plants for the season, sampling Zimmerman’s cheese, smiling at babies and feeling blessed that the last frost date of the season was only a week away. I followed up my Saturday market day with a Sunday cooking class. What a treat to spend a few hours with the highly talented chef Eve Aronoff of eve the restaurant, which is located around the corner from the farmers market. At her restaurant Eve focuses on local and seasonal ingredients combined with an accent on bold flavors that are full of contrast and surprise. However this class presented a more herbaceous palette of pesto risotto with seared halibut and English peas. The class was titled “An Early Spring Seasonal Menu”. It was inspiring, insightful and delicious. If you make it to Ann Arbor you MUST have dinner at the restaurant eve. If you can’t make dinner then consider investing in Eve’s cookbook which features recipes from the restaurant. Alice Waters offered this endorsement on the book “Eve Aronoff is deeply committed to the Slow Food movement. She buys the freshest, liveliest ingredients from local, organic farmers and cooks with simplicity and spice.” Or perhaps just stop by the local farmers market to peruse what’s fresh and prepare a creation of your own. And next time you’re at our Saturday Farmers Market here in Eugene stop by the Slow Food table and say Hi.