Category Archives: Eugene-Local Eating

The “Lily Stamp Of Approval”

It was a perfectly wonderful May afternoon. The sun was on the decline bringing out some of the cooler hues of green from the pasture and surrounding oak trees. Ephraim Payne had called us several days earlier because he was working on a CSA story for the Natural Choice Directory and wanted to visit our farm. Not only was he interested in gathering intel for his story, but his wife Leeann and their family were considering joining our CSA for 2012. We were honored to be considered a source of credible CSA information (we have the best CSA customers!). But the biggest honor came from something unexpected of Ephraim’s visit.

Deciding which chicken to have a conversation with.

You see, the Payne’s are thoughtful consumers, working to keep their carbon footprint as small as possible. They capture rain water to keep their vegetables and laying hens in whetted whistles. They compost, they recycle, they buy locally. But the coolest part of all their efforts is how Ephraim and Leeann share their experience with their daughter, Lily, and encourage her to have her own opinions and make up her own mind about her consumption. This is really where this story begins.

When Ephraim and Lily arrived at the farm, Lily seemed like your average Eugene pre-teen. Nothing ‘brand name’ about her clothes (no AE or A&F to be seen), a tease of azure tint lingering on tucked away bangs, headphones dangling from ears, easy steps in an unfamiliar place. The three of us exchanged hello’s, and I asked Lily what she was listening to. To my pleasant surprise it wasn’t the latest Coldplay album (nothing against Coldplay) or Gotye hit, but an audio book. She didn’t know it yet, but we were already friends.

It’s a good place to be

We took a casual stroll around our farm, looking at our chickens at the different stages of their development. Our birds that were one week old just getting their first wing feathers but still mostly yellow puff balls, the three-week old birds in that weird adolescent stage (half bald, half covered in feathers) and then our 5 and 7 week birds on pasture, in their pens enjoying the warmer afternoon. Lily helped move the pens, feed and water the birds, and even had a heart-to-heart with one of them. I imagined the unspoken conversation to have gone something like this:

Lily: Hey chicken friend. You look good. How is this Derek guy treating you?

Chicken: Hey girl friend. I like your hair. You know, we have it really good here. All the grass and bugs we can handle. We are safe and warm in our pens (we like to flock, but an electric blanket would have been nice last week:). Big D plays some Michael Jackson for us every once in a while. It’s all good.

Lily: Cool. If you were me, would you eat you?

Chicken: Darn straight. Nothing fake about us. We are the best you’re gonna get. Make it happen.

Ephraim and I spoke some more about CSAs, he shot a few photos, and it was time for them to get back into town. But before they left Lily and I exchanged a few precious words which left quite an impression on me. This eleven year old shook my hand, stepped back, looked down at the ground to collect her thoughts and choose her words wisely and spoke these words, “You know, I like what you are doing here and… I have to give you the Lily Stamp of Approval.”

My heart smiled and so did my face. I was honored, proud of our birds, our farm, us, Lily, her parents, the Willamette Valley, that May-day.

They loaded up in their Subaru and drove away down our dirt road. In the words of Lily’s new chicken friend, it really was ‘all good’.

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Give The Gift Of Good Food

Cousin Eddie

"My part just ain't gonna look right" without Our Family Farm meat in the freezer

It won’t be something to stuff in the stocking. It won’t be a parcel to unpack from under the tree. It won’t even offer the immediate gratification we have grown accustomed to during this time of year. BUT IT WILL BE GOOD!

Our Family Farm has put together some neat packages that will allow you to “give the gift of good food” this holiday season (Why does Cousin Eddie comes to mind from Nation Lampoon Christmas Vacation, “You know Clark, that’s tha gift that keeps on givin’…”?)

How does it work? Simple…

  1. Consider anyone in your life whom you would like to share in your discovery of the best meat products in the Willamette Valley
  2. Make a list of those people
  3. Check it twice
  4. Pick a package that best meets your gift giving needs.
  5. Contact us to make the arrangements at ourfamilyfarm.info@gmail.com.
  6. We send you a certificate to give to the lucky person/family
  7. They redeem the certificate with us to start eating the good stuff (we are happy to deliver to the PDX area, and anywhere in between)

This year you can choose from several options:

  1. The “Aunt Bethany”- 2 of Our Family Farm pastured raised, grass-fed chickens  $25
  2. The ‘Cousin Eddie”- 5 of Our Family Farm pastured raised, grass-fed chickens  $60
  3. The “Clark Griswold”- 10 Our Family Farm pastured raised, grass-fed chickens  $110
  4. The ‘Ellen Griswold”– 30 pounds of grass-fed and finished ground Angus in 1lb, double wrapped packages, ready for pick up between December 26 and December 31. $100

We hope these options are something to tantalize your holiday gift giving. May your days be tasty, and bright.

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A Nation Of Farmers

“~How City Farmers, Backyard Chicken Enthusiasts, Victory Gardeners, Small Family Farms, Kids in Edible School Yards, Cooks in Their Kitchens and Passionate Eaters Everywhere Can Overthrow our Destructive Industrial Agriculture, and Give us Hope for Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness in a Changing World”

What do you think? Sound too far out there, too far removed from your reality? Yes? Well, regardless of the pennies in your bank account, you are the greatest at risk.

Sound inspiring? We will say this much, if you are at all interested in how you will feed your kids, and eventually how your kids will feed you as the future of food systems dramatically change our landscape in the coming years, you may want to glean the pages of Sharon Astyk and Aaron Newton’s book, A Nation of Farmers.

Sadly, the pacification that allows for almost all of us to walk sleepily through our weeks is covertly stripping us of one of our basic freedoms; our freedom to choose. Sure, we can choose between Stouffer’s and Healthy Choice, but those companies choose what GM vegetables and CAFO meats fill the box. Do we know the baker who made that loaf of Oroweat bread, with the herbicide infused grains? Do we know the farmer who raised that Rocky Chicken in the confines of a giant hen-house with thousands of other chickens? Probably not. And we trust these strangers with the nutritional health of our families. If this idea concerns you, you may take a closer peek at A Nation of Farmers. You might also consider a couple of simple things:

  1. Read the books and blogs, have the conversations, and in general educate yourself
  2. More importantly, do something in response to it all

Here are a few ideas for us all, as a way to do something:

  • Go to your Farmer’s Market
  • Plant something or join a community garden
  • Get to know a farm/farmer who raises produce and meat products
  • Share what you know and what you do, with others
  • Take responsibility for your life by eating locally and sustainably

If the idea of planting something inspires you, but you don’t have the space or know how, you might consider joining a community garden, or team up with some neighbors to transition a back yard into a garden. We have started a community garden and we would love to share this experience with you. If you are interested, email us and we will bring you into the fold.

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Year Of The Local: A 12 Step Program- Part 1

One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.  ~Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story

The reality is that most of us, OFF included, have been bastardizing one of the nicest things about life in our failure to plant, purchase, prepare and eat delicious, natural food. Henry David Thoreau even has 2 cents to add to this idea-“He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise.”

This month Our Family Farm begins an enticing 12 step program to transitioning the way we grow/buy, prepare and eat food. Our goal is to walk gingerly into this process, thoughtfully researching and making choices to discover and support the people working hard in our area who grow happy, healthy food. And if you don’t mind, we would like to share our discoveries with you in the hope that our experience might allow for a more gracious transition for your family, too. Perhaps you will even share what you are learning with us. All in favor? Onward, then!

Here is what we will be researching, learning about and sharing with you and your family as the year unfolds:

  • Januaryish- Local grains; bread
  • Februaryish- 2009’s food of the year; the egg
  • Marchish- Discover the where and why for raw (it’s not a dirty word) milk
  • Aprilish- Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and plant something, anything
  • Mayish- Buy local, natural chicken (we like the birds from Our Family Farm:)
  • Juneish- Visit a farm, and get to know the people who grow the food you eat
  • Julyish- Pick berries, delicious berries. We will share some of your favorite places for those sweet lil’ devils
  • Augustish- Preserve something, anything. Jam, pickles, sauerkraut, make your own marinara
  • Septemberish- Pet food- give the good stuff to the critters that bring so much joy to your family
  • Octoberish- Stock the freezer with a side of beef
  • Novemberish- Where and why to track down a hog for that sausage, bacon, and ham to get you through the winter
  • Decemberish- You will have to stay tuned. It’s the season for wrapped surprises…

A quick snap shot of what we are learning about grains:

  • They have been eaten for centuries, and it is only since the advent of modern culinary technology we have been able to strip nutritional value from something so pure and perfect.
  • They are perfect: Grains contain all of the components required for a body to assimilate the nutrition there within.
  • When we process grains, we strip their inherent offerings, and ability to do what they were designed to do- benefit us!
  • With a little bit of thoughtful attention to “processing” our own grains, we can usurp most of the health issues associated with this life-giving gift.

Here are a few simple steps we have taken to transition how our family takes advantage of this readily available, highly healthy food.

  1. Learn- Our new friend John Rice recommended an awesome book that we recommend to you; Nourishing Traditions- The Cookbook the Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. It is to food what Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States is to American history.
  2. Buy a bread machine- …and make your own bread. That’s right, technology isn’t all bad. We can pick and choose the things that benefit us more that hurt us.
  3. Discover where you can get whole, healthy grains- For those of us in the Southern Willamette Valley we will make it simple for you. There are a few ways to get the good stuff.
    • Get yourself out to the farm, meet the person growing your grain, and build a relationship. Hunton’s Farm is taking land historically used for grass seed, and transitioning it to grow organic food crop like beans, lentils, and grain products.
    • Take advantage of your local wholesaler. We especially like Hummingbird Wholesale for a robust selection of local grains, legumes, nuts, flours, and sweeteners. It’s a wonderland of delights!
    • Find it in the grocery store. Sundance Natural Foods or The Kiva are supporters of the local movement.
    • Start, or join a buying club. Conspire with a group of friends and family to purchase food in bulk, at wholesale prices. If you are interested, ask us about the buying club we are starting.

That’s it. Make it simple, keep it simple. Our Family Farm started with local grain grown at Hunton’s Farm, made into flour and purchased in a 2 pound package at Hummingbird Wholesale (they happen to have retail hours Tuesday-Thursday). We tossed it into a bread machine with a few of the other usual bread suspects, and we have been enjoying delicious, healthy bread all month long. You can do it, too.

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Give The Gift Of Good Food

Cousin Eddie

"My part just ain't gonna look right" without Our Family Farm meat in the freezer

It won’t be something to stuff in the stocking. It won’t be a parcel to unpack from under the tree. It won’t even offer the immediate gratification we have grown accustomed to during this time of year. BUT IT WILL BE GOOD!

Our Family Farm has put together some neat packages that will allow you to “give the gift of good food” this holiday season (Why does Cousin Eddie comes to mind from Nation Lampoon Christmas Vacation, “You know Clark, that’s tha gift that keeps on givin’…”?)

How does it work? Simple…

  1. Consider anyone in your life whom you would like to share in your discovery of the best meat products in the Willamette Valley
  2. Make a list of those people
  3. Check it twice
  4. Pick a package that best meets your gift giving needs.
  5. Contact us to make the arrangements at ourfamilyfarm.info@gmail.com.
  6. We send you a certificate to give to the lucky person/family
  7. They redeem the certificate with us to start eating the good stuff (we are happy to deliver to the PDX area, and anywhere in between)

This year you can choose from several options:

  1. The “Aunt Bethany”- 2 of Our Family Farm pastured raised, grass-fed chickens  $25
  2. The ‘Cousin Eddie”- 5 of Our Family Farm pastured raised, grass-fed chickens  $60
  3. The “Clark Griswold”- 10 Our Family Farm pastured raised, grass-fed chickens  $110
  4. The ‘Ellen Griswold”– 30 pounds of grass-fed and finished ground Angus in 1lb, double wrapped packages, ready for pick up between December 26 and December 31. $100

We hope these options are something to tantalize your holiday gift giving. May your days be tasty, and bright.

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A Relieving, And Tantalizing Turn Of Events

If you are like Amanda and I, eating a local and seasonal menu has been an overwhelming and somewhat scary transition, but one we have been committed to making. On paper, the whole thing looks great! Eating local means there is potential for freshness, potential to know the person who raises the food you will eat (understanding the inputs they use to grow it), potential to save money, potential to utilize more nutrients from your food (those thing break down over time), and you get to support a local farmer working to do good things.

Those things are great, right?! We are more likely to appreciate a meal with those things achieved?

So what are the things that keeps us from walking in the food freedom we hunger for?

First, when we take it from paper to pavement, for Amanda and I, we get overwhelmed. “How the heck do we make bread, and where is grandma when you need her? We need flour, right? What else??” Second, when we take it from paper to pavement we get a little bit scared. “Are we really going to save money when I have to buy all the ingredients? And where am I going to find all the ingredients? I mean, if I buy them from Winco (to save that money), I might as well just buy the loaf already made…from Winco! Seriously, where is grandma when you need her??”

It is a lot to digest, and it is definitely something we should consume one small bite at a time. So, you can imagine the immense relief Amanda and I felt when we discovered the perfect answer to many of our questions. Just a handful of minutes from our home is Hummingbird Wholesale, an oasis of local, natural grains and flour, sweeteners, oils, spices, legumes and beans, nuts, and dried fruits…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It is AMAZING!

Hummingbird WholesaleThey declare, “Like the Hummingbird, we seek to sip the nectar of the earth without harming the flower.” These people get it! And if you get the chance to visit their warehouse during their limited retail hours (Tuesday-Thursday, 10AM-2PM) ask for our friend Jimmy, the resident granola guru. He can talk all about the good things lining their shelves.

With the discovery of Hummingbird, Amanda and I are excited to walk into a new season of our eating evolution, and we are eager to share some of the thing we discover along the way, with you. Stay tuned for recipes…

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Reinvent Your Holiday Dinners with Local Fare

Our guest post, as seen on www.ahahomeandgarden.com.

Purchasing and eating local, natural, and seasonal foods is a growing reality for many people, perhaps even you. And why shouldn’t it be? It is exciting to provide food for your family this way; perusing colorful displays of root vegetables staring back at you from the local farmer’s market stands, and short drives out of town to visit the farms and meet the farmers raising the meat that will fill your freezer for the year. It is a healthy lifestyle that has potential to be easier on the wallet than one might think. For now, let’s unpack what is exciting about the realization of eating naturally raised, local and seasonal foods.

The cold months have arrived, and that means the excitement of the holidays has arrived as well! In whatever fashion your family gathers and celebrates, food is likely the centerpiece and if your family is lke ours, there is always plenty of it. But before great-grandma’s pumpkin pie recipe, before the hand crushed cranberry salad, before the cornucopia can cover counter tops and tables, tracking down a turkey and the rest of the holiday feast’s usual suspects needs attention.

Add Excitement to Your Family’s Holiday Food Experience

  • Take advantage of the modern map and compass…the Internet. And I don’t mean to research whatever delectable delight you can dazzle your guests with from the Barefooted Contessa’s website. I mean, find the farms in your area that are working hard to raise the ingredients you will need for your menu. You might be excited to find your turkey and cranberries can be found at the farm, just past the other farm where you found your pumpkins and pecans for pies.
  • Reinvent your menu to highlight the delicious abundance in your area. For us in Oregon’s ripe Willamette Valley, ‘delicious abundance’ is an understatement. Cork a host of local wines for before, during, and after the meal. Challenge yourself to find local producers for a cheese and charcuterie platter. Kick the excitement up a notch by moving your stuffing away from a Stovetop version, toward something like a chorizo and cornbread stuffing with that spicy sausage from the farm over the river and through the woods.
  • “Meet your farmer. Meat, your food” was the title of a field day we had at our farm last year. Plumes of people came to visit with the intention of getting to know us, the people who raise the food, and to witness the practices by which we raise our animals. We had a big BBQ featuring our pastured poultry, and we received a ton of turkey preorders because people came, saw, ate, enjoyed, and believed. We believe we eat the food our food eats, so it is important to us to know what our food eats. With this said, take some time to go to the farms in your area and visit with the farmers (call ahead because we can be busy with chores or various farm projects). These are passionate people, experts in their craft who can open up a world of excitement with the placement of a baby chick in the hands of your child, or expose the delicate and brilliant integration of the animals on the farm.
  • Understand that Butterball Turkey is neither fresh nor local. Plan your holiday feats with the understanding that local fair is on a very different timeline than the food in your grocery store. When gathering the ingredients for your holiday menu, it will require connecting with a local farmer earlier than the Friday before the big event. Turkeys are best preordered as early as July. Ask your farmer, “Why?” when you pay them a visit. Other meat products for that charcuterie platter or chorizo stuffing will need time to make as well. The produce you will want may be in high demand. Calling the farm ahead of time will let you know what is in stock and allow you the option to reserve what you will need. In all cases, planning ahead helps your farmers give you the best possible experience with their products. There is nothing like the excitement of knowing you have the items on your menu accounted for, well ahead of time, with the fresh turkey to be picked up from the farmer a day before Thanksgiving.

Gather the troops together this holiday with the deep satisfaction and quiet excitement knowing you walked the path of an American Pilgrim by:

  1. Reinventing your menu to highlight the delicious abundance in your area.
  2. Finding the farms in your area that are working hard to raise the ingredients you will need for your menu.
  3. Take some time to go to the farms in your area and visit with the farmers.
  4. Planning for the ingredients on your holiday menu well in advance.

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