The Lake Oswego Farmers' Market opened last Saturday - you might have been one of the thousands who came to buy fresh produce and other foods and flowers and meet the farmers and producers who made them. I have fond memories of my days helping sell Pat Morford's Rivers Edge Chevre at the market; you see everyone you know and get to meet so many new friends.
At the market on June 2 you will have the opportunity to meet a new friend of mine, John Burt. Burt is the executive director of the non-profit organization Farmers Ending Hunger. His booth at the market will have supplies for kids to make Mr. or Mrs. Potato Head out of real potatoes and other veggies. And though making a personalized Mr. Potato Head is going to be fun I hope you will stop by to learn about the important work the organization is doing.
It is still a puzzler to me that Oregonians can live in one of the most productive food-producing areas and still be the second hungriest state in the nation. It is puzzling to Burt too, but he says he can't sit and stew about it; he needs to do what he can address it. The mission of Farmers Ending Hunger is to eliminate hunger in Oregon by increasing the amount of high quality food available to hungry local communities through a partnership of farmers, food processors, Oregon Food Bank and the public.
The fight against hunger begins with the farmers and ranchers who donate a portion of their harvest.
'We have about 125 growers who donate,' said Burt. 'Some are large farms, some are small family farms.' He says they get donations ranging in size from a truckload of onions to tons of greenbeans. These food donations must be processed: wheat is ground into pancake flour; beef is ground into hamburger, some vegetables are canned or frozen before they are delivered to the Oregon Food Bank. The foods are not second quality - these are top quality produce items.
Some of the processing services are donated and cash donations from individuals round out the mission. This is where we come in, friends. The additional costs of product sorting, processing, packaging materials, storage and trucking to get that food to the hungry are covered by our donations.
Farmers Ending Hunger has an Adopt-an-Acre program where supporters adopt acres donated by Northwest farmers and ranchers to provide the funds necessary to process the food grown on that land and distribute it through an established network of local food banks and social service programs.
An adoption of two acres costs $500 and feeds 1,000 families of four fresh vegetables for a day.
An acre adoption costs $250 and feeds one serving of pancakes to 2,300 families of four.
A half-acre adoption costs $100 and feeds one family of four the daily recommended allowance of vegetables for 250 days.
A quarter-acre adoption costs $50 and feeds one serving of corn, peas or green beans to 625 families of four.
Adopting one row costs $25 and feeds 190 families of four whole grains for one day.
Burt said help is also needed in harvesting the crops. He often has calls from farmers offering produce if they can get help bringing it in. You can sign up to be on a list to assist with that as well. Ask Burt about the Portland Tree Fruit Project on June 2.
'The public can help us get the food from point A to point B,' Burt said. 'There are many costs involved that can't be donated - packaging wheat or hamburger, processing vegetables. That is what donation dollars are used for. We are trying to reach the foodie audience - people who care about where their food comes from because if it matters to them, it will matter to them where others get their food.'
Be sure to circle June 2 on your calendar and get down to the Lake Oswego farmers' market. Introduce yourself and build a relationship with your farmers. And please don't just walk by our friends at the Farmers Ending Hunger booth. Stop in and make a Mr. Potato Head.
The recipe selected for today is a salad dressing that will be perfect for topping your farm fresh mixed greens. Enjoy it today!
Bon Appetit! Eat something wonderful!
Spiced Salad Dressing
This dressing is excellent for fish or vegetable salads or for mixed greens as a piquant change from the classic French dressing.
Makes 1 ½ pints
2 cups olive oil
½ cup wine vinegar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
2 tablespoons chili sauce
½ teaspoon oregano
1 green pepper, sliced
2 slices onion
1 clove garlic
Put all the ingredients in a blender, blend for 1 minute.
This dressing can be prepared ahead of time and kept in an airtight jar in the refrigerator.