Friday, October 31, 2014

Farm Fresh Veggies All Winter…Who Knew?

maritime climate: Climate typical of the west coasts at the middle latitudes of most continents, generally featuring warm (but not hot) summers and cool (but not cold) winters, with a relatively narrow annual temperature range. It typically lacks a dry season, as precipitation is more evenly dispersed throughout the year.*

For growing vegetables year-round, you can't really beat the Northwest's relatively mild temperature range. Sure, we could have the warmer and drier climate of California's productive Central Valley, but then, really, would you want to live there rather than here? I thought not!

Celery root, aka celeriac.

Which brings me to the point of this post, which is where to get the freshest, best produce all winter long and, to add the icing on the proverbial cake, at the same time support local family farmers. I'm talking about our winter farmers' markets (see list, below) and a good number of terrific winter CSAs.

Musquée de Provence squash.

Yes, I said "winter CSAs," a relatively recent phenomenon that has become an important source of year-round revenue for farmers and employment for their staffs, as well as a delicious opportunity for those of us who enjoy cooking the best the season has to offer.

A good list of local CSAs is available at the Portland Area CSA Coalition (call to inquire if subscriptions are available). For those of you who may feel inadequate when faced with squash, kohlrabi or celeriac, the winter CSAs from 47th Avenue Farm, Sauvie Island Organics and Minto Island Growers feature the added benefit of a free subscription to Katherine Deumling's Seasonal Recipe Collection.

Portland Metro Winter Farmers' Markets
* From Wikipedia

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Oregon's GMO Labeling Battle: One Week to Go

First of all: please vote.

Second? Vote, dammit!

Okay, now that we have that out of the way: My family voted last week, as we usually do, sitting around the dining room table after dinner with the voter's pamphlet and our ballots, pointing at the ridiculous pictures ("Look, a pirate's running for Representative. Awesome!"), decoding the screamy endorsements then dropping our ballots off at the local public library. So now I'm going to jump into the fray and tell you why I voted for Measure 92 to require labeling of products containing genetically modified ingredients.

Luckily we only watch television shows online, so aren't subjected to the overwhelming barrage of ads talking about how the earth is going to spin backwards on its axis and life as we know it will end if the measure does or does not pass. (Though the barrage of ads for pharmaceuticals, cars and cleaning products have nearly the same deadening effect.) And since I'm not going to out my family members here, I'll just talk about my own reasons.

My first reason is, of course, a selfish one. I want to know what goes into the food I buy and feed my own family. For me, labeling will help me make decisions about which products I want to buy and which I'd rather not purchase. Labels like "certified organic" and certification from the Non-GMO Project help me to know what I'm thinking about buying, but getting those certifications is voluntary and costs a lot of money. Companies that don't want to disclose that information simply don't have to, hiding behind other labels like "natural" or "sustainable."

Now, my own feelings about what I feed my family shouldn't be the standard for the rest of the world (though everyone would be so much better off if they'd just listen to me), but, as is pointed out in a Washington Post article titled "The GMO Debate: 5 Things to Stop Arguing About," there's my concern that the use of genetically modified crops in agriculture has caused an increase of tsunami-like proportions in the use of pesticides, and that "we need to start building more transparency into our agricultural system so consumers can vote with their wallets for the kind of system they want to see." Amen.

Further, an article by Tom Philpott in Mother Jones magazine said that in a just-released paper published in the peer-reviewed Environmental Sciences Europe, by Chuck Benbrook, research professor at Washington State University's Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, "GMO technology 'drove up herbicide use by 527 million pounds, or about 11 percent, between 1996 (when [Monsanto’s] Roundup Ready crops first hit farm fields) and 2011.'" The article continues: “But then weeds started to develop resistance to Roundup, pushing farmers to apply higher per-acre rates. In 2002, farmers using Roundup Ready soybeans jacked up their Roundup application rates by 21 percent, triggering a 19 million pound overall increase in Roundup use."

And “by 2011, farms using Roundup Ready seeds were using 24 percent more herbicide than non-GMO farms planting the same crops," Benbrook is quoted as saying. By that time, "'in all three crops [corn, soy, and cotton], resistant weeds had fully kicked in,' Benbrook said, and farmers were responding both by ramping up use of Roundup and resorting to older, more toxic herbicides like 2,4-D."

All those pesticides don't just disappear in a puff of non-toxic smoke. They're seeping into the soil and the groundwater, washing into our rivers and streams, being blown by the wind and carried by birds, insects and passing traffic and ending up in the oceans. Not to mention that genetically modified crops can cross-pollinate with organic crops of the same species, potentially costing organic farmers their certification, as well as a loss of income from that contaminated crop.

If I can help to stem this tide of pesticides and other damages by filling my grocery bag with products that don't contain genetically modified organisms, then I'd like to do that. But first those products would have to be labeled, wouldn't they?

More reading:

"More Money, Fewer Facts: Final Week of Oregon's GMO Labeling Race" by Hannah Wallace truth-checks some claims being bandied about in commercials and materials.

Top photo from Oregon Right to Know.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Gathering Together Farm: Growing for 27 Years

"I still go to the markets because I love talking to people about food."
- John Eveland, Gathering Together Farm

On a quiet stretch of the Marys River just outside Corvallis in the tiny town of Philomath, John Eveland (top photo) and his wife, Sally Brewer, are running a certified organic farm on a combination of rented parcels and land that's been bought from neighbors over the past 27 years. John estimates that in 2014, total sales at their Gathering Together Farm will top two million dollars between 12 farmers' markets—three in Corvallis, six in Portland, the Beaverton Farmers Market and two at the coast—a year-round CSA, wholesale customers, restaurant customers and the farmstand and restaurant on the property.

John checking a hoophouse.

John and Sally don't get to keep all that money, of course, since, aside from hard costs, at the peak of harvest season John signs 128 full and part-time paychecks every month and even in the slower winter months he employs a crew of 40. The farm has two managers, Rodrigo Garcia and Joelene Jebbia; a chef, J.C. Mersmann, who runs the farm restaurant and catering arm; as well as an HR department.

All this started on just two acres of land in 1984. It wasn't meant to be more than that, originally, just enough to supply the vegetarian restaurant, Nearly Normal's, that John, his first wife and three friends started in Corvallis in 1980. Dissatisfied with the quality of vegetables they could get from distributors, a group of them decided to try to become farmers and grow their own. The other partners found it a bit more of a commitment than they anticipated and dropped out, leaving John and his first wife (and eventually him and Sally), to manage the new farm on their own.

Year-round markets were a game-changer.

John said that, unlike today when we have a rainbow of heirloom vegetables to choose from, back in those early days carrots came in one color, orange, and tomatoes were big red slicers, mostly beefsteaks. From the beginning the farm used hoop houses, a series of plastic-covered hoops set over rows of crops, to extend their growing season, but things would pretty much shut down in November until planting season began again in January.

"The game has changed with winter markets," he said, and more varieties of cold-tolerant crops that do well in the maritime Northwest made it possible to keep plants in the ground through the winter. But what really pushed Gathering Together Farm into its current year-round status was that his crew needed full time employment to stay in the area, so the farm now grows leeks ("They're bullet-proof," Eveland said.), turnips, rutabagas,  parsnips, kale and a popular winter salad mix, with more added every year.

The covered patio at the restaurant at the farmstand.

Plus, he said, "People are a lot more sophisticated in terms of their taste and what they're looking for." Unlike the old days where shoppers would turn up their noses at root vegetables or anything that wasn't a standard shape, he said they're now willing to try new things and buy non-uniform vegetables. And for those crops that might have blemishes but are otherwise perfectly good to eat, the farm has developed what are called "value-added" products like salsas, jams, pickles and sauces.

Delicatas are perfect for soup (recipe below).

Now pushing 66 years old, Eveland laughed and said he plans to be out in the field until he drops. Turning momentarily serious, he said that it's been critical to develop a staffing structure that provides a pool of expertise and knowledge to keep the farm humming along, especially since he considers himself "a creator, not a maintainer."

Reflecting on nearly three decades of farming, Eveland said it's certainly a much bigger, more complex farm than he would have ever dreamed of back in those early days.

"We're proud of what we've created in the community and the reputation we've earned," he said. "I just hope we've created something solid that makes the world a better place in some small way."

Ricky’s Delectable Delicata Soup
Adapted from Gathering Together Farm

The farm’s CSA coordinator, Hannah, says this is her favorite soup. It comes from Ricky, one of the cooks in the farm’s restaurant.

2 medium onions, julienned
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 leeks, whites only, chopped
8 oz. roasted red peppers
3 small delicata squash or 2 large ones (the flesh should equal 4 cups)
1 qt. vegetable stock (chicken stock works well, too)
1/2 c. cream
Pinch of cayenne
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350°.

Halve squashes and scoop out seeds. Roast in oven until flesh is tender when pierced with a fork, about 40 min. Cool and scoop out flesh to make 4 cups. Purée in blender or food processor.

Over medium heat, sauté onions, garlic and leeks until they are softened and glassy.

Add roasted peppers, delicata purée and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Add cream, cayenne, lemon juice and salt to taste. Stir well to combine.

Purée the soup in a blender in batches or use an immersion blender. You can also serve it without blending; the finely sliced onions and slivers of pepper make it quite a pretty soup as is.

Note: You can also speed up the process by peeling the delicatas with a vegetable peeler, halving them, scooping out the seeds and chopping them into 1" cubes. Add cubed squash when you add the stock, increase the cooking time to 30 minutes, then purée. This also works with other types of cucurbitaceae like butternut, acorn, etc.

This article was developed in collaboration with the Beaverton Farmers Market, a sponsor of this blog. Top photo of John Eveland by Jake Stangel.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

At Ecliptic Brewing, It's Tough To Not Get Starstruck

It's not hard, looking at brewer John Harris, to imagine him as a 10-year-old, laying on his back in the grass gazing up at the stars shimmering in the blackness of the night sky. It's not just his boyish looks that make this leap so easy, especially when he starts explaining each of his beers is named after a different star, moon or astronomical phenomenon. Or that the looping design of the lighting system above the dining room reflects the path of the sun as observed from the dining room, a figure eight shape known as an analemma. Of course, he had to give his brewery an appropriately spacey name, too, and chose Ecliptic, the apparent path of the Sun on the celestial sphere.


Mussels steamed in Spica Hefepils.

But in the two years he spent looking for a building after quitting the job he'd held for 20 years as Brewmaster at Full Sail Brewing, he also knew he wanted more than just a typical brewpub to serve his—and this is no exaggeration, since we're talking about the guy who created such iconic Oregon craft beers as Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Black Butte Porter, Obsidian Stout and Jubelale—exceptional lineup of beers. Not for him the usual pub menu consisting of half-hearted hummus plates, hamburgers or pizza. He went looking for a chef who could create a menu that would measure up to the exceptional quality of the beer he was making, who would be as committed to the quality of the ingredients in the food as Harris himself was to the ingredients going into his beer.

Confit drumsticks. In a pub. Yowza.

It's interesting, to say the least, especially in food-crazed Portland, that the idea of a chef in a brewpub is practically unheard of. I'm sure Harris ran into his fair share of rolling eyes and shaking heads when he said that was what he wanted to do, but from my visits to the pub since it opened and from a media event to unveil the new fall menu, he's found a complementary vision in the food that Executive Chef Michael Molitor (on the right, top photo) is cranking out of the kitchen. The menu is set to rotate every six weeks on—get this—"the Old World calendar" dates for Samhain, Winter Solstice, Bridgid, Spring Equinox, Beltane, Summer Solstice, Lammas and the Autumnal Equinox. (It's so nerdy, I love it.)

Pan-roasted chicken with red pepper vinaigrette.

While not hoity-toity in execution—this is food meant to go with Harris's hearty Northwest microbrews, after all—it is exceptional in that it's far more than breaded, fried and (heavily) salted pub grub. Take, for instance, the appetizers presented at the tasting mentioned above. Yes, they do have fries, but these are thin, crispy and served hot with aioli. The mussels are steamed in roasted tomatoes and Spica Hefepils, then topped with shaved bonito. There's a choice of a Caesar-esque romaine and treviso salad overlaid with a slice of pecorino or an endive, asian pear and Camembert salad with a maple-mustard vinaigrette. Instead of the ubiquitous wings or fish and chips, you can have light and heavendly salt cod fritters or a plate of confit drumsticks with sweet chili sauce. Pinch me!

A couple of mains worth mentioning are a succulent pan-roasted chicken with a corn and zucchini salsa with cotija cheese and a red pepper vinaigrette, or a red wine-braised brisket on housemade Savoy cabbage kraut scattered with house-pickled rutabaga (not yet listed on the website menu). Talk about setting the bar; I was knocked out. I hope you will be, too!

Details: Ecliptic Brewing, 825 N Cook St. 503-265-8002.

This Cute Dude Says Happy Halloween!

Couldn't resist the sweet smile and the twinkly eyes on this fellow as I passed by on my morning walk. Perhaps a rock-dwelling cousin of Oscar the Grouch?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Kitchen Scale: Useful After All!

It was one of those moments when, upon opening your birthday/holiday/housewarming gift, you smile through gritted teeth and murmur, "Gosh, thanks. A kitchen scale. Nice."

Bread? Oh, yeah.

I have to admit that it sat for a couple of years on a shelf in the pantry just above the pasta machine and below the (more frequently used) tart pan. That all changed when Dave started baking bread. He'd read that it was important to weigh ingredients rather than depending on good old measuring cups, where a cup of flour can vary as much as an ounce depending on how densely it's packed. (Read King Arthur Flour's description of the importance of weighing.)

Rhubarb syrup for soda, too.

Now even I have become a fan, pulling it out for uses as varied as how much sugar to use for rhubarb syrup or the amount of simple syrup needed for homemade liqueur to following a recipe that calls for three ounces of chorizo. And when you're using a European recipe—in grams—it's invaluable. I can even use the "tare" function to zero out the weight of the pan. Makes me practically an expert. Woohoo!

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Farm Bulletin: It's Time to Ramble!

Don't blame me if you miss your once-a-year chance to visit Anthony and Carol at Ayers Creek Farm, especially now that the weather wizards have looked into their murky cauldrons, pulled out a bat's wing and changed the forecast from rain to partly sunny. Still, I'd bring wellies to change into just in case. And feel free to bring your (well-behaved) kids…they'll love it!

The Ramble will take place on Sunday, Oct. 12th from 3:00 to 6:00, rain or shine. 

Showers are currently in the forecast [see above re: changed forecast - KB]. Bring a slicker and, as mud is a fact of life when it rains, a change of shoes or maybe some Wellies. We don't want muddy shoes in the harvest shed, please. It is a visit to a working farm, not an agritourism affair.

The harvest shed (before painting was completed).

There has been a merlin in residence, as well as a pod of meadowlarks, so binoculars may come in handy for the birders. Yellow jackets have been pretty tractable this year, but they are present and a bee sting kit is recommended if you are allergic.

There will be light fare provided by our own Linda Colwell, who has helped harvest so much of what you all enjoy at Hillsdale, and Sarah Minnick of Lovely's Fifty Fifty. No need to RSVP. 

One young rambler.

Our street address is 15219 Spring Hill Road, Gaston, if you need to inform Siri. Otherwise, our directions have been working pretty well, and long before unflappable and inscrutable Siri was even a twinkle in Timothy Cook's eyes.

From Portland:

Take 26 West out of Portland toward Beaverton.  Exit onto 217 (69A) toward Beaverton/Tigard.  Follow 217 to the  second exit (Beaverton, Routes 8 and 10, exit 2A).   Take this exit and go straight across Route 8 to the second traffic light.  Turn right onto Route 10, which is also called the Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway.

After crossing the railroad tracks, Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway turns into Farmington Road. After rambling on about 12 miles, Farmington Road T's onto 219.

Turn left onto 219, cross the bridge and take the first possible right turn, Bald Peak Road, in about 200 feet.

Bald Peak Road very soon splits into a “Y”. Bear to the right, staying on Bald Peak Road. You will follow Bald Peak for 3+ miles up a long hill. (Note: about half way up the hill, Laurel Road merges on the left, stay on Bald Peak Road by snaking to the right.)

The road peaks at the very top of the hill and curves sharply to the left, at the stop sign which doesn't make you stop, turn right onto Laurelwood Road, marked with a sign indicating "Scenic loop".

Go down this curvy road and through the hamlet of Laurelwood (about 3 miles) until the road T's onto Spring Hill Road. Turn left onto Spring Hill. In 1/2 mile, you will pass Gibson Road which comes in from the left. Turn right onto the next driveway. There are 2 mailboxes as we share this driveway with the Huserick Brothers nursery next-door. We have a sign.

[A quicker alternative, if less scenic, route for those coming from downtown or Northeast Portland: take Hwy. 26 west to the Glencoe Rd. exit (past Hillsboro). Take a left onto Glencoe Road, and in about a mile at the signal take a right onto NW Zion Church Road. It will turn into NW Cornelius-Schefflin Road. At the first roundabout, turn onto NW Verboort Road. At the second roundabout, turn onto NW Martin Road. It will end at Hwy. 47 (Nehalem Hwy.). Take a left into Forest Grove (mind the speed limit) and at the signal (at McMenamin's Grand Lodge) continue straight through onto Hwy. 47 to Gaston. Right after entering Gaston, take the first left onto SW Gaston Rd., then take a right at the stop sign onto SW Springhill Road. Follow a couple of curves and up and down a couple of slight hills till you pass Gibson Road which comes in from the left. Turn right onto the next driveway at the Ayers Creek Farm sign—there are two mailboxes as they share this driveway with the Huserick Brothers nursery next door.

If you're coming from Southeast, the best bet is to take Powell Blvd. across the Ross Island Bridge. Follow the signs to Hwy. 10, Barbur Blvd. Take Barbur to the Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy. exit (still Hwy. 10) and follow it out through Beaverton. Cross the railroad tracks, then follow Anthony's directions for proceeding on Farmington Road. - KB]

From Salem and points further south:

From I-5 North, exit at Brooks (Exit 263), about 10 miles north of Salem.  The stop sign turn left on to Brooklake Road. Follow the Brooklake Road for about a mile and, at the 4-way stop after crossing the railroad tracks, turn right onto River Road.

A couple of miles past the Wheatland Ferry turnoff, you must turn left towards St. Paul, this is still River Road.  Stay on River Road all the way through St. Paul and then to Newburg.

River Road ends at 99W on the east side of Newburg.  Turn left onto 99W and staying in the right hand lane.  About a mile, you will see a sign for 240.  If you are in the right lane, you will have to exit onto 240.

Take Route 240 west out of Newberg.  Follow for approximately 5.5 miles.  Turn right on to Ribbon Ridge Road.  The sign points to Gaston. Follow the main, paved road as it swings to the left about a mile later, becoming North Valley Road.  The road will meander along the side of the valley for 5.7 miles and then comes to an intersection where the main road swings to a sharp left.  Go straight onto Spring Hill Road.  You will see our berry fields at the top of the rise.  Follow Spring Hill for approximately a mile and look for gravel driveway on the left.  This is our farm's driveway.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Oregon's "Real Food" Revolutionaries

When an editor asks if I'll write a story for his magazine and then says it can be on any topic I choose, well, that's an offer I can't refuse. Here's my story for this month's issue of Willamette Living titled "Oregon's 'Real Food' Revolutionaries (Just Don't Call Them Foodies)."

Rarely a week goes by when someone in the national media, whether it's the New York Times, CNN, even The Tonight Show's Jimmy Fallon, mentions the amazing food to be found in Portland, Oregon. Chefs, restaurants, doughnut shops, vegan delis, food carts, gluten-free bakeries and the growth of what's being called a "food culture" have found fertile soil in the Northwest corner of Oregon. Just a decade ago it would have been an oxymoron to put the words "Portland" and "food scene" in the same sentence. No longer.

Eamon Molloy (l), Hillsdale Farmers' Market manager.

But what's been missed by the national spotlight and gushing reviews is the true food revolution that's been building in the Northwest, one that will outlast the tourists and the hype. It's one waged by grassroots folks who would laugh at being called "foodies" but who are leading the way in changing the foundation of our local food system from one dependent on big box stores, national chains and agricultural conglomerates to one that is developing pathways for the small farmer and artisan producer to make a connection with the consumer, one that focuses on accessible, sustainable and affordable local food.

Read about five of these “real food” revolutionaries talking about why they do what they do and what they hope to accomplish.

Top photo: Kendra Kimbirauskas of Goat Mountain Pastured Meats in Scio.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

The Hummus Among Us

I totally agree with contributor Jim Dixon of Real Good Food: store-bought hummus is ridiculously expensive and producers don't always use the best ingredients, while making it at home is so easy, costs so little and is way more flavorful. This version adds roasted peppers to give it an extra flavor boost…try some sweet red peppers from the farmers' market like Jimmy Nardellos, Italian peppers or Cubanelles.

I used to sell garbanzos grown by Haricot Farms, the same folks who grow the rojo chiquito red beans. But they haven't been available for the past few years (I suspect they all go to the Truitt Bros. for canning). So when I learned that Koda Farms, producers of Kokuho Rose rice (Mark Bittman called it the "best rice grown in America."), also grows garbanzos, I ordered a bag. They're small, organically grown and delicious.

Hummus with Roasted Chiles

If you have a food processor, there's no reason to buy hummus at the store. It never has enough tahini, anyway, and it's almost always made with fake extra virgin olive oil (the blends of refined and virgin olive oils often labeled "extra virgin"). This version includes some roasted chiles, but you can leave them out for traditional hummus.

In your processor combine 2 cups of cooked garbanzos, 1/2 cup of roasted chiles (available now in varying levels of heat at the farmers market; substitute roasted red bell peppers [recipe] or roast your own chiles), 1/2 cup of tahini, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 coarsely chopped garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and the juice of a lemon (or 2 tablespoons Katz Sparkling Wine vinegar). Process until smooth, adding a little of the garbanzo cooking water if you like a thinner spread. Drizzle with more extra virgin, dust with paprika (I like the smoky note from Spanish pimenton) and eat with bread or anything else that will scoop it up.

You can find Jim and the products he loves on most Mondays at his Real Good Food "warehouse," from 4-7 pm at Activspace, 833 SE Main St. #122. Look for the "olive oil" sign out front.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Seeds of an Idea: Chefs Working with Farmers

You remember Mendel's peas from your fourth-grade science class, don't you? Where this guy named Gregor Mendel, an Augustinian priest, grew peas in his abbey's garden and noticed how certain traits were dominant, meaning they could be passed on to future generations, helping to establish many of the rules of heredity.

Talkin' squash with Alex Stone of OSU.

Historically, farmers bred vegetables for themselves and their local communities, choosing seeds that would flourish in a particular climate or elevation and that their families and neighbors could enjoy. For the last several decades, the advent of large corporate agriculture, where crops are grown and shipped to markets far from where they are grown, has meant that new vegetables have been bred for traits like yield, storability, appearance and the ability to withstand the rigors of transport.

You want peppers? We got peppers!

Flavor, that most ephemeral of qualities, has fallen by the wayside in the industrial model, resulting in bland tomatoes, greens that taste like cardboard and fruit that has all the appeal of munching on a tennis ball. Lately though, the rise of farmers' markets and the beginnings of a return to sourcing foods locally has flavor rocketing back to the top of the list.

"Eeh…what's up, doc?"

World-famous chefs like Ferran Adrià are starting to work with farmers and seed breeders to bring back not just ancient varieties of wheat, but to develop new lines using traditional, non-biotech methods, like those used by Mendel. Here in Portland, that work is being forwarded by Lane Selman of the Culinary Breeding Network, a project of the Organic Seed Alliance and Oregon State University's Department of Horticulture.

Gorgeous indigo cherry tomatoes.

This past Monday, many of Oregon's top seed breeders, chefs and farmers gathered around tables overflowing with carrots, potatoes, peppers, cilantro, corn, beets, squash, onions and tomatoes to sample and rate new varieties. The chefs, like Greg Higgins of Higgins Restaurant and Bar, who had teamed with Good Stuff NW contributor Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm to make a hominy soup with Amish Butter corn spoonbread, got to work with farmers growing new varieties of these crops, each choosing one to prepare for sampling.

The most valuable part of the evening, though, was the conversations that spontaneously erupted over the rows of raw and roasted beets, the bowls of neon-colored peppers and the waving stems of cilantro. You can look for the results of those conversations to appear on restaurant menus and market tables near you.

See the Flickr photos from the Variety Showcase. Top photo and photo of Alex Stone courtesy of the Culinary Breeding Network.