Leading up to the holiday season, I've been contemplating the way we celebrate and, particularly, about the way we buy. Since gift-giving is a traditional, and often unavoidable, part of the festivities, I thought it might be helpful to start thinking sustainably. Here is the second of a five-part series adapted from an article I wrote for the Nov.-Dec. '09 issue of NW Palate magazine.
The year-round farmers markets in the Northwest are on the mind of Chris Curtis, Director of the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance in Seattle. “If someone gave me ten pounds of local organic potatoes, I’d be thrilled,” she said, acknowledging that it might not be everyone’s idea of the perfect holiday gift.
For more conventional presents, she said that farmers will be offering what are called “value-added” products like preserves, jams, dried fruits, shelled nuts and wines that make a terrific gift basket for foodie friends or for taking to holiday and office parties.
She said that cheese lovers would do well to check out the markets for local cheeses. “Farmers markets are some of the best places to get local farmstead cheeses,” she said, especially from hard-to-find specialty cheesemakers who don’t produce enough to sell to larger supermarkets.
* * *
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share. Many farms in the Northwest offer subscriptions, or “shares,” to community members. It’s an investment in a local farm, in healthy and seasonal eating, and will likely open the recipient’s eyes to a new meal or two. For a list of CSAs, visit localharvest.org.
Meat shares work the same as the CSAs, but instead of produce you can purchase a side of beef, pork, or lamb and share it with your friends and family. For a list of producers raising livestock on a small scale by family farmers, visit localharvest.org.
A selection of local honeys tastes and smells of the Northwest like few other products, and ships well to far-flung relatives and friends. Imagine how magical it will be when that jar is opened for a holiday breakfast! Check your local farmers market or natural food store.
The Farm to Table Cookbook: The Art of Eating Locallyby Portlander Ivy Manning. As America’s desire for local, natural ingredients continues to grow, Ivy Manning offers this spectacular collection of recipes, including special dishes from some of the most touted Northwest chefs and restaurants that have made their marks using the freshest local ingredients.—$20.Read Part One: Gifts That Grow, Part Three: Good for the Environment, Part Four: Helping Others and Part Five: DIY Food & Drink.