Soup's On: Sopa de Carnitas

As often happens around my house, this soup recipe came about on a chilly winter night when I didn't have any particular plan for dinner. Which means I started rummaging around in the fridge looking for inspiration, hoping desperately that I wouldn't have to make a trip to the store.

Fortunately there was a smallish chunk of pork shoulder stashed in the meat drawer, a couple of potatoes in the veg bin and half an orange left over from a batch of granola I'd made earlier in the day. Hmmm…maybe carnitas…

The problem? Without that dreaded trip to the store, there wasn't going to be enough to make carnitas tacos for three hungry people. But then it occurred to me that adding pork stock to make a hearty soup—a go-to winter dinner around here—would be a cinch. With tortillas from Three Sisters Nixtamal alongside, this was a simple dinner-on-the-fly recipe that would be fit for company served with a big chicory or winter greens salad.

¡Buen provecho!

Sopa de Carnitas

1 1/2 lbs. boneless pork shoulder, sliced into bite-sized pieces
1 qt. pork or chicken stock
2 c. water
1 onion, cut in 1/4" dice
3 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 orange, cut in quarters
1 tsp. kosher salt plus more to taste
2 yellow potatoes, cut into 1/2" dice

Put all ingredients except potatoes into Dutch oven or soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Simmer for 2 hours until meat is very tender and starting to fall apart.

Remove orange pieces and bay leaves. Add diced potatoes and simmer for 30 minutes until tender. Add salt to taste and serve.

Farm Bulletin: Chicories Are Here!

A heads-up from contributor Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm:

We have started delivering the Arch Cape chicories to our restaurant accounts and some selected stores. These are Rubinette Produce on N.E. Sandy and New Seasons Market at Cedar Hills, Raleigh Hills and Grant Park. Those New Seasons stores are on the delivery route. When we see something special in the produce section, we communicate our pleasure to the staff. Chicories are a very small bit of their portfolio, and the Arch Cape just an atom. A complimentary remark helps catch their attention when it comes time to reorder. If you don’t see them, inquire.

Arch Cape chicories.

The chicories are heading up two weeks earlier than last year. The February full moon is 11 days earlier this year—February 8th versus February 19th last year—a likely factor. We enjoy the idea of the moon as the conductor our lives. In her gibbous state last night, she traveled the fair sky of the ecliptic with gentle light borrowed from the sun, extending the hunting hours of coyotes. Their exuberant choruses through the night played off against the amorous calls of the great horned owls. We are keeping an eye on their nest as the female will be settling down soon.

A couple years ago, we saw a post where these lovely heads were chopped cross-wise for a salad. It was jarring to the loving farmers' eyes, a shock and abomination that lingers to this day. These chicories should be taken up with our digits, i.e. our fingers, not a fork, and nibbled slowly, contemplatively down the blade. Savoring the sweet nub of the root before picking up another. It is a salad to linger over lovingly, not forked up in haste. To prepare them for this ritual, we cut from the tip of the root nub to the base of the leaf, and then tear them apart lengthwise in four or six pieces. In this manner, as shown above the elegance of the blade is retained, along with the sweet nub. They are best dressed lemon juice which, as a fruit juice, confers a measure of sweetness to the raiment.

In 2017, we encountered a small cluster of chicories heading up January. It was clear that they were a genetic amalgam of the various sorts we had planted over the years, prompting us to start the "Bald Peak" project. We put them in pots so as to isolate them for pollination purposes, and harvested the seed that August. Last July we planted a row, and now we are selecting plants for our second seed harvest. We enjoyed walking the seed row with our friend Myrtha Zierock this week. Below are some examples of the heads we encountered. They were growing in the Arch Cape rows, and thus fair game for the harvest knife. The seed we harvest in August will ripen too late to resow. It will be planted in the July 2021 for harvest in January 2022. All this requires a schedule because we also breed to grow seed for the Arch Cape. In any given year, only one type of chicory can be grown for seed so as to avoid undesirable cross-pollination. 

Why go to all this bother and expense? Most chicory seed is produced in Europe, and is well-adapted to the day-length and weather conditions on the continent. The varieties are highly localized. We were constantly disappointed by the quality of the crop when grown in Oregon. One year, the crop from a prominent and respected seed company only yielded 10% harvestable heads, the others were subpar, to put it politely. Other times, we had germination problems. Because the seed was adapted to areas with relatively dry winters, the plants did not have good rot resistance, leading to tip burn and bottom rot. Useful traits reside in the populations, but they need to be amplified by the rigors of our climate and selection. Farmers put up with enough grief; seed quality shouldn’t be heaped into the emotional equation. Consequently, we now manage and produce our own seed.

Beach Time: Manzanita Weekend

It had been well over a year since we'd been to the beach for more than a day trip—almost criminal considering Portland is an easy 90 miles from the coast—so for a birthday treat we rented a small house in Manzanita for a long weekend. Situated at the quieter north end of town near Neahkanie Mountain, and with rain in the forecast, we'd have a chance to read and write and maybe, just maybe, get in a few dry walks on the beach.

Cloudy to cloudless in 24 hours.

Winter sojourns on the Oregon coast require a certain flexibility. Storm fronts can blow in and just as quickly blow over, so it can pour all morning then suddenly break into high overcast (or…gasp…sun!) allowing time for long-ish strolls.

The high tides in winter—this year there have been several so-called "king tides," a non-scientific term for exceptionally high tides—bring a great deal of detritus to affected beaches. Driftwood, seaweed and grasses, along with ribbons of sea foam or "spume" churned up by the waves, litter the tidal zone, as well as colorful chunks of plastic large and small, and the bodies of creatures caught in the storms, including velella velella, birds and shellfish.

Great selection at Cloud and Leaf Bookstore in Manzanita.

When, not if, the next storm front arrives, it’s the perfect time duck into the exceedingly cozy Cloud and Leaf Bookstore for reading material, then repair to the San Dune Pub for a pint. A stop at the surprisingly well-stocked Manzanita Fresh Foods market on the way home for dinner odds and ends and we were set for the evening.

Which kicked off with a stellar pasta dish from my brother's old blog, crab and thinly sliced ribbons of chicory in a shallot and wine sauce, all warmed together with the hot pasta until the chicory wilts but still has a nice crunch. A curly endive salad in a creamy vinaigrette, a glass of a dry rosé to drink, and we were as happy, if not more so, than we would have been going to a fancy seafood place.

Safe from tsunamis…whew!

We could then head to bed knowing our rental house was safe from the aforementioned king tides and tsunamis, as declared by a line painted on the main road just down the hill. Tsunamis, triggered by earthquakes offshore in the Cascadia subduction zone, are a big topic in coastal towns, since they can affect hundreds of miles of coastline, threatening people on the beach, those living in low-lying areas, and anyone living or working near the bays and estuaries that make the Oregon coast such a rich environment.

Safe for now…

Not that it was on the mind of the young four-inch banana slug making its way across the patio, but that tsunami line out on the road means it's likely to reach full adulthood as long as it doesn’t meander too far afield.

Growing a Farm: Terra Farma Expands with Meat CSA

It might come as a surprise to some of the customers of Michael and Linda Guebert, who raise and sell pastured meat on their 10-acre farm in the Corbett area east of Portland, that when they bought the land in 2001 they were vegetarians looking to grow just enough produce for their own use.

In the spring of 2020 they're taking Terra Farma to the next level, starting a CSA subscription service for the pasture-raised pork, beef and chicken they raise, and adding goat and lamb to subscriptions next year. 

As they tell it, it all started when a friend gave them a few chickens, and as the flock expanded beyond what they could use themselves, they began selling eggs to friends and co-workers. Some of the roosters were causing problems, so a friend slaughtered the cranky birds and left one in their freezer. When Linda finally got around to cooking it, that delicious, pasture-raised rooster ended up being a life-changing meal, inspiring the couple to pursue a different model of eating and farming.

Goats were added, initially raised for their meat, but after milking a couple of their does, the Gueberts decided to focus on dairy, finding a ready market for their raw goat milk. With that, it was a hop, skip and jump to a multi-species, rotational grazing operation with pigs, other poultry like guinea fowl and turkeys, as well as rabbits, dairy cows and now beef cattle.

They also found this regenerative style of farming was a good fit with their own values, both in terms of being able to give their animals the best lives possible, as well as being environmentally sustainable in promoting healthy pastures and soil that more readily retains moisture and sequesters carbon. 

Why add a CSA on top of their existing farm business? Mike said it's primarily because of customers' comments about the difficulties they encountered trying to find meat that they believed was healthier for themselves—the phrase "you are what you eat eats" coined by author Michael Pollan springs to mind—and also about wanting products that were better and more sustainable for the planet.

There's also, of course, the financial aspect. The farm currently has a steady income from the milk and meat they raise, with a loyal client base built up over many years. Customers come out to the farm in Corbett to pick up orders, and the online ordering and billing system the Gueberts implemented has streamlined transactions. Linda was able to leave her job to work on the farm full time in 2011, but like many farm couples, Mike still has a full-time job off the farm that helps pay the mortgage.

The addition of the CSA subscriptions will require capital investments. Slaughter and processing of the pigs and cows at a USDA facility costs more than on-farm slaughter, and they'll need to purchase freezers to store the meat. But USDA slaughter gives the Gueberts the ability to sell meat by the piece rather than only being able to sell whole or half—or in the case of beef, quarters and eighths—under custom-exempt rules, and it will enable them to offer more choices to customers who may not be able to store or use larger quantities of meat.

The plan for the meat CSA, still undergoing some fine-tuning, is to offer quarterly subscriptions in the $325 price range for a 10- to 12-pound monthly box of a variety of cuts and kinds of meat (i.e. pork, beef or chicken). Customers won't get the same box every month, ensuring that selection is varied and the whole animals will be used.

Mike and Linda's aim is to have a sustainable business, of course, but more important to the couple, as Mike said, is to build a community of like-minded people through sharing recipes and creating strong bonds around a love of good food.

"We want to help transform the way people think about meat and clear up myths about meat's effect on the environment," Mike said. "We hope to enable customers to build a direct, meaningful relationship with their farmers; we want people to think of our farm as their farm."

Your Food, Your Legislature: CAFO Regulations, Pesticide Ban Top Agenda

When it gavels into session on Monday, February 3rd, the 2020 interim session of the Oregon legislature is set to address a stunning, some would say impossible, roster of work in the 35 days it is legally allowed. From climate change to gun control to spending $1 billion in revenue—not to mention the threat of Republicans walking out to kill bills they're not happy with as they did last session—it's bound to be a bumpy ride.

Several bills affecting our food system are in play, including:

New regulations on confined feeding operations (CAFOs) with more than 2,500 animals (SB 1513): On the heels of the catastrophic failure of Lost Valley Farm, a 30,000-cow mega-dairy, this bill seeks to establish more stringent regulations of new industrial animal operations. Specifically, it requires the Oregon Dept. of Agriculture (ODA) or the state Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to confirm the facility has an adequate water supply to operate and that it will need to obtain a separate permit for spreading animal waste on the land surrounding the facility.

According to Amy van Saun, a senior attorney for the Center for Food Safety (CFS), this bill is not adequate to address the problems raised by Lost Valley Farm. "The work group bill (similar to the bill proposed last session) does not go nearly far enough, and chipping away at the edges will not protect our community health and welfare from mega-dairies, including the new mega-dairy proposed at the infamous Lost Valley site. Further, we are concerned that the climate legislation again both exempts mega-dairies from controlling their methane emissions and creates a perverse incentive for people (especially from states with stronger controls) to set up or expand mega-dairies here, and to then sell dirty manure gas as 'renewable biogas' into the market," she said.

Study groundwater contamination and implement improvement plan for Lower Umatilla Basin Groundwater Management Area (SB 1562):  Some drinking water wells in the federally designated Groundwater Management Area (GWMA) in Umatilla and Morrow Counties are polluted with nitrates over the federal maximum allowable limits. Blamed on agricultural effluents, the area is the site of the state's two largest factory farm dairies—the 70,000-cow Threemile Canyon Farms and the not-yet-permitted 30,000-cow Easterday Farms Dairy, the original location of the now-shuttered Lost Valley Farm.

According to a study by Colorado State University, exposure to high levels of nitrates in water can cause "blue baby syndrome," (methemoglobinemia) a condition found especially in infants under six months. This results in a reduced oxygen supply to vital tissues such as the brain and can result in brain damage and death. Pregnant women, and even ruminant animals like cattle and sheep, are all susceptible to nitrite-induced methemoglobinemia. Nitrate contamination also has well-documented adverse health risks including increasing the risk of a variety of cancers, thyroid disease, and reproductive and gestational problems.

Additional pressure for legislators to act comes from the environmental watchdog Food and Water Watch, which is requesting the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) take emergency action to address groundwater contamination in Morrow and Umatilla Counties. “Oregon officials have effectively abandoned their responsibility to protect people by doubling down on their failed approach to preventing groundwater contamination, which continues to put control in the hands of the very polluters that have created a pervasive threat to human health,” said Tarah Heinzen, Senior Staff Attorney with Food and Water Watch. “The Safe Drinking Water Act fully empowers EPA to take emergency action to protect human health in the Lower Umatilla Basin Groundwater Management Area in these circumstances," she continued, "and our petition demonstrates that it must.”

Ban aerial spraying of pesticide chlorpyrifos (HB 4109): In some agricultural communities current exposure levels to this developmental neurotoxin by children ages one to two exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) own allowable threshold by a staggering 140 times. 

Even at low levels of exposure by women during pregnancy, chlorpyrifos has been shown to alter brain functions and impair the learning ability of children into adulthood. Researchers at Columbia University have demonstrated that the presence of chlorpyrifos in the umbilical cord of developing fetuses is correlated with a decrease in psychomotor and mental development in three-year-olds. At high levels of childhood exposure, chlorpyrifos has been found to cause attention deficit, hyperactivity, slow cognitive development, a significant reduction in IQ scores and a host of other neurodevelopment problems. Children who live near farm fields experience the highest risks and impacts. A University of California Davis study found that women who resided within a mile of farms where chlorpyrifos and other organophosphate pesticides were applied had a 60 percent higher chance of giving birth to children with autism spectrum disorder.

Attorney van Saun said that CFS is "supporting a renewed push to phase out the dangerous pesticide chlorpyrifos from use in Oregon, following similar phase outs in Hawaii, California, and soon to be New York and the EU." She pointed out that a bill to phase out chlorpyrifos did not pass last session, "but the danger is still there for our kids and farm workers, so CFS is supporting efforts lead by Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN) to make this happen this session."  The hope is that the Oregon Legislature, through this bill, declares that the children of Oregon are more important than corporations that profit from exposing them (and the citizens of the state) to toxic chemicals.

Climate cap and trade (SB 1530): Also known as Legislative Concept 19, this bill follows the overall framework of last session's HB 2020, which failed to pass due to conflicts between urban and rural factions—some would say industrial and environmental concerns—in the legislature. According to an article from Oregon Public Broadcasting, "the bill would force big greenhouse gas emitters to obtain credits for each ton of gas they emit, and create an overall cap for emissions allowed in the state. That cap would lower over time, in theory ensuring Oregon meets stringent conservation targets in 2035 and 2050. Entities required to obtain permits could trade them with one another."

Additions appease critics of the more stringent requirements of the previous bill, including protections for rural Oregonians from rising fuel prices; new exemptions and subsidies for industrial companies; rebates for big industrial gas users and a grandfather clause for existing wholesale contracts, giving some large companies (hint: Boeing) a break until their existing contract expires and they can structure a greener one.

Establishment of an Oregon Hemp Commission (HB 4051, HB 4072, SB 1561): House Bill 4051 creates a new state commodity commission; HB 4072 directs the Oregon Dept. of Agriculture (ODA) to administer an Oregon Hemp State Program for studying growth, cultivation and marketing of hemp; SB 1561 deals with the commercial production and sale of hemp—changed from "industrial hemp"—as well as changing definitions of marijuana offenses and regulations regarding medical marijuana.

Stay tuned for future installments as the legislative sausage is made!

No Waste: Making Vinegar from Apple Peels!

Here in Portland, especially in our increasingly warm summers, we know that yeasty, vinegary smell whenever we go out to dump our compost in the bin the city provides. (Portland has had curbside composting since 2005 when the city developed the Portland Composts program that required city garbage companies to offer it.) Well, those intense olfactory experiences had me pondering how to make my own vinegar, especially since I've been learning about fermentation lately, and discovering how incredibly simple it is.

Looking up a few vinegar how-to websites made it even more of a slap-myself moment. Being the cautious sort, I decided to start small and see how it went, but since I'd just bought a few apples for pie, the supplies for a small batch—apple peels and cores—were readily at hand.

As with most fermentation projects, it takes patience. As in waiting a month until you know if your vinegar experiment has yielded a desirable result, which is the hardest part of the process (at least for me). Fortunately this one, when I strained out the solids, gave about a cup of pink-tinged, delicately apple-perfumed vinegar (top photo) that will be lovely sprinkled on soft lettuce salads or to give a light acidic touch to other dishes.

It gives me the courage to try again with a larger batch, maybe with another fruit or vegetable, so stay tuned!

Apple Vinegar

Quart wide-mouth jar
Peels and cores from four or five organic apples
2 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
2 1/2 c. boiling water

Bring the water to a boil and stir in the sugar until dissolved.

Pack the jar 3/4 full of apple peels and cores and pour the sugar water over the top to fill the jar to the shoulders. Use a chopstick to poke the submerged apple peels and dislodge air bubbles. Refill the jar with more sugar water if necessary. The apple bits should stay submerged, so place a canning weight or smaller jar inside if necessary to hold them down.

Place a square of coffee filter or several layers of cheesecloth over the jar and secure with a rubber band or canning ring. Place in cool, dark place for one month, checking to make sure no mold is forming.

The contents may get cloudy or a SCOBY (vinegar mother) may form, but that's normal. Taste the vinegar after 4 weeks and, if it's to your liking, strain out solids, place a lid on it and store in refrigerator.

Winter Warmer: Lentils with Ground Pork and Radicchio

"I’m duty-bound to eat lentils on San Silvestro (New Year’s Eve). Why? Because each tiny legume represents another coin added to my treasure chest in the year ahead and if I don’t consume lentils, well, poverty inevitably will loom."

Writer and author Nancy Harmon Jenkins, who lives part-time in her hometown of Camden on Maine's charming coast and a portion of every year among her beloved olive trees in a tiny Tuscan village, lives my dream life. She is completely at home in both places, speaking both Downeast-ese and Italian, and is fluent in the cuisines of both, as well.

Her recent ode to the tradition of eating legumes at the turn of the year to assure prosperity in the year ahead captured me, so much so that when I saw lentils in the bulk bin at the store, I had to buy a pound to try them out.

For me, lentils always meant the brown lentils ubiquitous in every natural foods cookbook and on every hippie café menu during my young adulthood. Hearty, for sure, and marvelous when paired with a beefy stock and roasted tomatoes, I loved the flavor but wished they had a sturdier texture since, when cooked, they tended to moosh up into a dal-like consistency (not that there's anything wrong with that, as the saying goes…).

So when Nancy wrote that these lentils "are incomparably sweet and hold up well, not disintegrating when they’re simmered for 30 to 40 minutes," I was all in. I had a vision of a meaty, slightly brothy stew with tomatoes (see above), but also featuring some hefty, simmered greens for color and texture. Having just processed a half pig, I used a pork stock to simmer the lentils and ground pork for the meat, but having no kale or chard in the fridge (!) I decided to use a small head of treviso in a nod to Nancy's Tuscan side.

The resulting hearty winter stew was a rich counterpoint to the blustery cold winter weather outside, and I'd recommend it for your table any time you have a need to feel prosperous, indeed.

Lentilles de Puy with Ground Pork and Radicchio

1 lb. Lentilles de Puy
1 qt. stock (chicken, pork, vegetable, whey or simply water)
2 bay leaves
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. ground pork
1 onion, chopped in 1/2" dice
1 tsp. fennel pollen
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 c. (16 oz.) whole roasted tomatoes
1 head treviso radicchio, sliced crosswise into 1"strips
2 Tbsp. fermented cayenne peppers or other chopped, roasted red peppers
1/8 tsp. ground cayenne (optional)
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. salt or to taste

Bring the stock to a boil and add the lentils and bay leaves. When the stock returns to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender, about 30-40 min. When lentils are done, strain and cool, reserving stock in a separate bowl.

While lentils cook, heat olive oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add ground pork and brown. Add onion to the pork and sauté until tender, then add garlic, fennel pollen and oregano and heat briefly. Add tomatoes, radicchio, peppers and vinegar and sauté briefly. Simmer over low heat, adding enough of the reserved stock to keep the stew from drying out  too much (I used it all), at least a half hour and preferably an hour in order for the flavors to meld. Also terrific reheated the next day. Serve with a loaf of artisan bread and good red wine—preferably Italian, right, Nancy?

New Decade, New Look!

Today is a very big day in the 14 years that I’ve been writing Good Stuff NW. For the first time it has a brand new look and feel that I hope will enhance its function and readability, and make it a better experience for everyone who visits. For a—hopefully—short while there will be some visual back-and-forth between the previous site (still at Blogger) and the new site, until I get all 2,621 (Yikes!) posts migrated to the new format. I hope you will bear with me during this transition. Look for a lot of exciting news to break in the near future.

The new search function at the top of the right-hand column (or at the top of the mobile version) should make it much more productive when you’re looking for that creamy tomato soup recipe or the post Anthony Boutard wrote about how to escape a swarm of yellow jackets. I used to have to type “goodstuffnw tomato soup” into the Goog’s search bar to find an old post, so you should find this a major improvement.

There’s an About page where you can find out a little about me, and a Media page where you can follow me on your preferred social media platform. By the way, I’m particularly fond of Instagram these days, but Facebook and Twitter are great for sharing articles and information. The Media page also has a curated selection of articles I’ve written if you’re curious about my work outside of Good Stuff NW.

And for you mobile device users, including tablet, phablet or “slate" users, your experience is going to be oh-so-much enhanced by the new format, loading more quickly and efficiently and with graphics that will make the old site look like the doodles on your high school Pee Chees (remember those?) in comparison.

A shoutout, as always, goes out to our stalwart sponsors for their support and encouragement. Please let them know how much you appreciate that support by stopping in and mentioning Good Stuff NW by name. Big thanks to the Beaverton Farmers Market, Providore Fine Foods and Vino wine shop!

As always, thanks for reading!

Profile: Filmmaker Sarah Koenigsberg's "The Beaver Believers"

There’s a saying about making documentary film that likens it to taking a bunch of sentences, slicing them up, putting them in a bag, dumping the bag out on the table, then trying to rearrange the pieces into a cohesive story, according to filmmaker Sarah Koenigsberg.

Documentary filmmaker Sarah Koenigsberg.

Sarah Koenigsberg’s first documentary, The Beaver Believers, tells the story of an unlikely group of activists from around the country who are united in trying to bring back the American beaver from the edge of extinction. These advocates believe that the beaver is a keystone species, that its near-demise at the hands of fur traders caused much of the West to become arid land, and that returning the beaver to healthy population levels would restore ecosystems, creating the biodiversity, complexity, and resiliency watersheds need to absorb the impacts of climate change.

Already well-received at the Banff Mountain Film Festival, the film is a finalist in the prestigious Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival, and will be screened at the Environmental Film Festival at Yale. The film was several years in the making, and shot in eight western states as well as Mexico and Canada.

“We had to really work as a team,” she said of the challenge of working with college interns to film the easily spooked animals in their natural habitat. “We had to learn to intuitively sense each other's movements. It was a really cool little dance that we ended up working out. Especially for students who'd never done anything like that before, watching them get it and watching their confidence build.”

Her own path to becoming a filmmaker was circuitous. Like many young people, it took time for Koenigsberg to find her calling.

With some theater experience in her early years, by the time Koenigsberg got to college she’d decided it wasn’t the career for her. An introductory class in environmental studies intrigued her, as did a geology class, both of which exposed her to the problems of pollution and climate change. An intro to film class she took required making a short film, and it was while putting that very first film together that she had her epiphany.

“The first time I put some clips together in a timeline, and put in some music, and [saw] what happens when clips go together with music, a light bulb clicked,” she said.

One of the stars of Koenigsberg's first feature films.

She also did work with place-based collaboratives in the West. “[I was] meeting small groups of people, potentially with very different mindsets, recognizing that if they all care about the place they live, even if they disagree, they need to figure out how to work together and hear each other,” she said, helping them to use a collaborative rather than a litigation model.

Koenigsberg moved to New York City, volunteering to work on film crews, jumping in to grab a light or hold a boom microphone. That dogged persistence earned her a stint on a film crew in Ecuador, which cemented her decision to go into documentary filmmaking.

“Being in the field, collecting stories of a community that had no voice in the world, but they were trying to have more sustainable agriculture to lead to better lives for their kids,” Koenigsberg said. “It all just resonated.”

She returned to Walla Walla and started her own film company called Tensegrity Productions, named for a term coined by architect Buckminster Fuller to describe the fluid interconnectivity in nature, a tensional integrity, or tensegrity.

Living out her principles and challenging her own presumptions is a key to being a successful documentary filmmaker, Koenigsberg believes.

“No matter how good your education, there are always other modalities of knowledge, other bodies of experience from living and working in a place, that you've got to listen to,” she said. “If you go in assuming you already know everything that person has to offer as a character or as a viewpoint, you're not going to give them the chance to give you the most little beautiful nugget of truth. You're just turning them into a very flat character. I want to find very vibrant characters who, through their personal journey, are hinting at much larger, global-level issues.”

Photos from Tensegrity Productions.

Providore Adds Revel Meat, Two X Sea

I just got word that I can unburden myself of a secret I've been keeping for almost two months, one that is going to make my life—and hopefully the lives of many other fans of local meat—so much more delicious. Fans and those whose lives were bereft when Ben Meyer closed down Old Salt, his palace of sustainable meat, can now rejoice: He and his partner in Revel Meat, James Serlin, have just signed a lease and stocked cases of their local meat inside Providore Fine Foods.

Kaie Wellman, co-owner of Providore and longtime Portland specialty grocer, Pastaworks, with her husband, Kevin de Garmo, and Bruce Silverman, termed the partnership a "perfect marriage."

The meat case is packed!

Bringing Revel Meat to Providore continues the group's commitment to partner with providers who have deep relationships with local farmers and can give customers the kind of high quality, thoughtfully sourced products they're looking for, Wellman said. "Partners who excite us are the people who are as passionate about food as we are."

Serlin echoed that excitement, saying it was Providore's roster of partners like Rubinette Produce, Little T Baker and Hilary Horvath Flowers that made it an ideal choice for Revel's first retail outlet. "It's a big deal for Revel to be associated with Providore," Serlin said. "The idea behind it, as a place where people can come to get the best produce, meat, fish, cheese and bread, is a perfect fit."

Beef and pork from local farms like Pat-n-Tam's Beef in Stanfield, Campfire Farms in Mulino, Rieben Family Farms in Banks, and 6 Ranch in Wallowa County will stock the big meat cases on the west end of the store with both frozen and fresh cuts. Don't see what you're looking for in the case? Revel will also be happy to accommodate orders for custom cuts—I've already put in my order for some beef neck—with pickup available at Providore. (Read more about Revel Meat and its mission to rejuvenate local meat processing.)

Kenny Belov of Two X Sea.

And who will be occupying the coveted space recently vacated by Flying Fish Company? None other than Two X Sea (Two By Sea) the Bay Area fishmonger born in 2009 out of owner Kenny Belov's frustration with the lack of honesty and accountability in the seafood marketplac and fair pay for the fishing industry.

"The only way to change wholesale was to become wholesale," said Belov, who has been selling seafood to top Portland-area restaurants for more than four years. All of Two X Sea's suppliers must answer specific questions before their fish are accepted into its program: Who caught the fish? Who was the captain? What's the name of the boat? How was the fish caught? Was the fish caught on purpose (as opposed to it being bycatch, which means fish caught while targeting other species)? Belov believes that those answers give an opportunity to share with consumers all of the information about every piece of fish in the case.

"Their sustainability standards are unmatched anywhere," Wellman said. "These guys walk their talk."

Belov said that architectural drawings for the new space are being completed, and he's hoping for Two X Sea to open in late spring. Plans include an oyster bar and a menu that showcases the offerings in the fresh case. He said it's an opportunity to expose guests to preparations of seafood that they might also make at home, and he's excited to see what chef Jacob Harth—chef at the much-lauded Erizo and who will compose Two By Sea's offerings—orchestrates in conjunction with Providore's other partners.

Wellman said that Pastaworks, with its nearly 40 years in Portland, and now Providore, are set to move to the next level in its evolution as a vortex for people who love to cook and who care about where their food comes from. "It's a community of like-minded businesses and business owners," Wellman said. "It's the antithesis of a grocery store experience. It's a place where customers come in and are surrounded by real food and high quality products from small producers they can't find elsewhere."

Then comes the throwdown: "Nowhere else in the U.S. has this level of a food experience and offers customers this kind of engagement with their food."

Providore Fine Foods is a sponsor of Good Stuff NW.