Thursday, February 2, 2012

Winter Farmer's Market

Having a vibrant winter farmer's market demonstrates several things about the Northern Willamette Valley that we should all be thankful for. First of all, there is a strong agriculturual community that is willing and able to grow and harvest in the cold and rain. These crops are typically not as highly valued as summer crops, yet the work and the conditions are much more difficult and unpredictable. Roots, tubers, brassica's, and chicories may not be as glamorous as asparagus, tomatoes and peppers, but for those of us who enjoy cooking with the seasons, we know there is a time for everything, and the hearty and robust cooking of winter foods is a satisfying comfort. As with any other ingredients, quality shows at the table. Take a look at this huge celery root! It's almost the size of a basketball, and yet its incredibly dense, with no soft, spongy, hollowed interior, as often happens with poorly harvested or stored roots.

How beautiful is an arrangement of carrots of all colors? These are coming in to the city from the rural surroundings of Portland twice a week, even in the winter. There are some logistical reasons that make this possible. We do have relatively mild winters here in the maritime Northwest. Also, the proximity to the city is manageable. In larger cities, like Chicago, Seattle, and New York, it's simply a longer drive for the farmers, ranchers and cheesemakers to bring their product into the city, time and transportation costs that few small scale producers can afford. I hope you will all continue to support the wealth of our fortunate surroundings.

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