Friday, June 25, 2004

The HFM Grapevine
The Official Newsletter of the Hillsdale Farmers' Market Vol. 3 Issue 4
"All the news that's fresh, we print"

Gas Prices: Another Perspective
I have yet to meet anyone who regards today's record high gasoline prices as a good thing. Even those of us who sometimes feel guilty for an over-reliance on fossil fuel burning vehicles can't help but feel dismay when the cost of a tankful of gas exceeds that of the monthly household electric bill.
At this point, it is unclear whether these prices are just a passing phase; a brief upward spike brought on by a temporary supply crunch. However, there is a growing chorus of opinion that believes the age of cheap-oil is at an end and that pump prices will continue to rise, never to go back down. Those choristers may well be right: Unrelenting political turmoil in the Middle East figures to place increasing pressures on the supply side while the emergent Asian economy is creating unprecedented pressures on demand. In China alone, oil consumption has doubled over the last ten years; car ownership there has risen from 700,000 vehicles to 7 million in that time.

Now, just why am I discussing all this on the front page of our farmers' market newsletter? The answer, quite simply, is that these changes in the energy market have real repercussions for most aspects of our lives, not the least of which involves the food we eat. Been noticing higher prices at the farmers' market and the grocery store lately? Well, higher gas prices = higher production costs, which must then be passed along to the consumer. While economies of scale make it easier for large factory farms to absorb mounting fuel costs, higher gas prices can be especially burdensome to those small farmers who are striving to maintain both a reasonable living for their families and reasonable prices for their customers.

Given the current state of affairs, one can't help but wonder what the impact will be on small growers should fuel prices continue to rise. While I certainly have no idea, one prominent social critic actually believes that such an eventuality would occasion the renaissance of the small family farm. The critic, James Howard Kunstler, not only believes that America's "cheap oil fiesta is about over" but he is positively sanguine about its implications for locally based agriculture. The following, excerpted from his forward to the book Cooking Fresh from the Mid Atlantic, Kunstler offers up his happy prognosis for the small grower in the brave new world of high petroleum prices:

Forget about living in a drive-in utopia much longer. That phase of American history is drawing to a close˜which to me implies that many of its accessory operations may be nearing an end, too, and that includes industrial-style agriculture based on huge, petroleum-based "inputs" producing standardized, sanitized, industrialized "outputs" (crops) that are extravagantly processed and denatured at fantastic economies of scale and transported vast distances to colossal megasupermarkets serving a mass car-dependent base of "consumers."

Meanwhile, a whole culture, specifically an agriculture, is waiting to be recovered from the dumpster of American civilization. We've begun to see it, I think, in the birth of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) projects˜that is, local farms producing food for a local subscriber base. CSAs produce everything from arugula to zucchini and sell to local restaurants as well as subscription customers. For one thing, the CSA movement has challenged the common idea that the only sort of farming possible here in New York State is dairying. We had, in fact, a much more diverse farming scene here before the invention of the electric milking machine and the refrigerated tank truck, and we will have such an agriculture again.

It fascinates me that American eating habits today are simultaneously better and worse now than they have ever been. Fine ingredients that couldn't be found on our parents' tables combined with higher culinary standards have certainly improved eating aesthetics at the higher end. But any trip to the supermarket reveals classes of poorer Americans who seem to subsist wholly on a diet of soda pop and industrially extruded, salt-laden party snacks. And the results are visible everywhere in unprecedented mass obesity and related illnesses. Since the snack industry is a phenomenon of agribusiness, mass production, and long-range transport, the future localization of agriculture might result in better diets for greater numbers of citizens˜including the poor, who have been systematically preyed upon by the minions of Cheez Doodles and Pepsi-Cola. Health should be democratic, a matter of the common good. Here's to finer tables and a better landscape! Bring on the Chincoteague oysters roasted with New Jersey baby spinach and Chester County cream. Let the soil speak and the seasons ring!

Speaking of oysters, we were all set to run a profile of HFM's own venerable vendor of oysters, The Last Place on Earth, in this week's issue. But the editor's propensity for long-windedness so distended the preceding article we were left with insufficient space for according proper homage to our favorite marketer of magnificent mollusks. Check back in two weeks for The Grapevine's salty appreciation of one of the HFM's first ˆ and finest ˆ vendors.

Eamon Corner
By Eamon Malloy, HFM Manager

I hope everyone enjoyed the twin bounties of sunshine and harvest at the market last weekend. The variety of produce this early in the season - blueberries, carrots, tomatoes, zucchini, spinach, basil, cherries, beets ˆ continues to amaze and delight∑ And even more goodies will be arriving over the next few weeks! Two returning vendors make their 2004 debut this weekend - Flamingo Ridge Farm (tomatotier par excellence) and Riley and Sons (purveyors of fine Blueberries). We look forward to having them back and sampling their wares!

I also have some sad news to share: Longtime Hillsdale resident and community activist Jan Baldwin passed away on June 10. Jan and Bob Baldwin have been regular market shoppers since the market started in 2002. I met the Baldwins in late 1996 while serving with Jan on the first Hillsdale Neighborhood Association board and working with Bob on the Town Center Plan. Much of what you see in our community - from the mid-block crossing to the Farmers' Market - came about in part because of Jan's and Bob's hard work and dedication. In fact, you can see Jan in the middle of the photo we used for this year's opening day flyer. That photo is how I want to remember Jan, with a smile on her face walking through the market in a community she loved and helped to create. Good bye, Jan. We will all miss you.
Sue's Recipe o' the Week
For those of you who have long sought that most elusive of culinary grails - a unique and zesty way of preparing lentils - your quest is now ended! Behold yon wondrous concoction!

Warm Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese
Serves 4

1 cup french green lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 large carrots, diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped parsley
3 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 TB Red Wine Vinegar
1 TB fresh lemon juice
1 TB Dijon Mustard
4 cups trimmed spinach leaves
1/2 cup crumbled mild goat cheese (2 oz)

1. In medium saucepan, bring 2 cups water to boil over medium-high heat.
2. Add lentils, oregano, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes.
3. Add carrots and cook 10 minutes or until lentils are just tender. Drain lentils and carrots in colander.
4. Meanwhile, in large bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, parsley, oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and mustard.
5. Add drained lentils to bowl of vegetables. Serve salad on bed of spinach and sprinkled with goat cheese.

What's Fresh for June 27
Once again, it's time to get your pencil, paper and cookbooks handy and start planning those menus for the week ahead. Here's what you can expect to find, fresh, at the Hillsdale Farmers' Market on Sunday.

Baird Family Orchards, Dayton:
Berries/Fruit: Cherries
Other: Asparagus

Bear Creek Floral, Tillamook:
Other: Artichokes.

Deep Roots Farm, Albany:
Bulb/Root Veggies: Beets, Carrots, Garlic, Garlic Tops, Potatoes, Radish, Turnips, Walla Walla Sweet Onions.
Leafy Greens: Arugula, Chard, Chinese Cabbage, Collard Greens, Escarole, Kale, Lettuce, Mizuna, Spinach.
Other: Cucumbers, Summer Squash, Zucchini.

Earthshine Gardens, Sherwood:
Beans & Peas: Snow Peas.
Herbs & Spices: Basil, Dill.
Leafy Greens: Chard, Kale, Lettuce.
Other: Plant starts, Zucchini.

Gee Creek Farm, Ridgefield, WA:
Beans & Peas: Fava Beans.
Bulb/ Root Veggies: Beets, Carrots, Kohlrabi.
Herbs & Spices: Cilantro.
Leafy Greens: Arugula, Chard, Kale, Lettuce.

Happy Harvest Farm, Mt. Angel:
Beans & Peas: Snow Peas.
Berries/Fruit: Blueberries, Boysenberries, Cherries, Marionberries, Raspberries.
Other: Cucumbers, Tomatoes!, Zucchini.

Liepold Farm, Boring:
Berries/Fruit: Blueberries, Raspberries.

Lone Elder Farm, Canby:
Beans & Peas: Fava Beans, Green Beans, Sugar Snap Peas.
Berries/ Fruit: Blueberries, Cherries, Raspberries.
Bulb/Root Veggies: Beets, Carrots, Green Onions, Kohlrabi, Potatoes (Red, Yukon Gold), Radishes, Red Onions, Walla Walla Sweet Onions.
Herbs & Spices: Cilantro, Parsley.
Leafy Greens: Cabbage, Chard, Lettuce (7 varieties), Mustard Greens, Spinach.
Other: Asparagus, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cucumbers, Rhubarb, Summer Squash, Zucchini.

Packer Orchard, Hood River:
Berries/Fruit: Cherries.

Rick Steffen Farm, Silverton:
Berries/Fruit: Blackberries, Blueberries, Raspberries.
Beans & Peas: Green Beans, Snow Peas.
Other: Asparagus, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Zucchini.

Salmon Creek Farm:
Other: Tomatoes (Hydroponic)

Unger Farms, Cornelius:
Berries/Fruit: Blueberries.
Upcoming Market Guests & Events

Musical Guests
June 27: Hamilton Street Sextet (Jazz)
July 4: Evan Ponder (Jazz)

Guest Organizations:
June 27: Sierra Club

Special Events:
July 4: Red, White and Blue Berry Sundaes ˆ It's once again time to celebrate Oregon's bountiful berry harvest AND Independence Day by eating a delicious Red (Raspberry/Strawberry) White (Vanilla Ice Cream) and Blue (Loganberry/Blueberry) Sundae - truly a "Patriot Act" we all can stomach!
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