Slow Food in the Pacific Northwest | Civil Eats

Slow Food in the Pacific Northwest

The Pacific Northwest has gotten plenty of great food press over the past couple of decades—salmon, marionberries, beer, wine—the list grows longer each season.

We live, supposedly, in an urban/rural Eden, where we can sip our carefully roasted coffee in the morning before kayaking or bicycling to work under lush trees and looming mountains; on our way home, we can pause to pick a few berries or, heck, catch a salmon before relaxing with locally crafted drinks.

Astonishing, really, given that a generation ago the region was just getting going, culinarily speaking. The first breweries, wineries, and locally inspired restaurants were just opening their doors; the first artisanal cheesemakers (and chocolatiers and bakers and more) were just starting to put their products together.

As Oregonian James Beard knew nearly a century ago, the Pacific Northwest has always been flush with edibles. But it took us a while to learn to imitate Beard and go berrying or cook fresh river trout over a beach fire.

So what changed? Instead of expecting us to hit the fields or forests for our fare, enterprising food folks learned that they could bring the grub to us. If they made the cheese or touted the salmon and made it easily available in stores and restaurants and farmers’ markets, we might learn to think differently about our green corner of the country. And we did so — with a vengeance.

Today, the state of Oregon is sending the second-highest number of delegates, per state, to Slow Food Nation. There’s beer folks like Hair of the Dog, founded in 1993, and Rogue Ales, founded in 1987. There’s wine folks like Cooper Mountain, founded in 1987, and Willamette Valley Vineyards, founded in 1983. There’s cheese folks like Juniper Grove Farm, founded in 1987, and Fraga Farm, founded in 1993. (Are you starting to see the history pattern yet?)

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Then there’s farmers like Anthony Boutard, who began farming at Ayers Creek Farm in 1998 and will be bringing his oh-so-regional loganberry preserves to Slow Food Nation. And producers like Marché Provisions, part of a restaurant/catering/specialty-food-shop operation founded in 1998, who’ll be bringing housemade charcuterie south to San Francisco.

We like to think there’s something special about our nook of the nation. But, as Slow Food Nation demonstrates, there are artisanal farmers and brewers and vintners and cheesemakers and preservers and more all over the country. So here’s to Oregon’s bounty — and the rest of the land’s, as well.

Photo: Ebelskivers (Scandinavian pancakes) with marionberry jam, © Culinate


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Caroline Cummins is the managing editor of Culinate. Read more >

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  1. Jameson Fulgrum
    I was really looking forward to Slow Food Nation, until this past weekend I started seeing links all over the net to a post on haphazardgourmet.com about Whole Foods sponsoring the event. It really makes me question the thinking here, if an irresponsible company like Whole Foods is deemed to be a good sponsor. Their beef recall is the latest in a long list of recalls, including a new recall today, not to mention the company's determination to run all other organic providers out of business. I just don't understand why they're being allowed to continue on as sponsors. It's ruining it for a lot of people who are serious about the Slow movement. The Haphazard Gourmet post was on the Culinate website, but in case you missed it, here's the link: http://haphazardgourmet.blogspot.com/2008/08/slow-food-nation-08-and-whole-foods.html

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