Eugene Weekly's Gift Guide 2010:
Reduce, Reconnect, Rejoice! More ideas than just “coupon good for one massage”
Organic on Your Skin Soaps made with love and garden herbs
Caffeine Up Get through the holidays with the rituals of tea and coffee
Birds of a Feather Art and fashion in Poppy & Moe
Between Children and Young Adults Gifts for tweens straddle the line
Wood from the Heart Bad economy leads to lovely toys
Life, Death and Water Soothing fountains arise from crises
Drool-Worthy and Local Start a new, natural tradition
Kiss the Cook Better yet, get the cook one of these great holiday gifts
Genius Gift: Make your own Fizzy Water
Drool-Worthy and Local
Start a new, natural tradition
by Zanne Miller
The orange in the Christmas stocking tradition may be reasonably well-known, but its origins are not especially clear. Some say it developed in the 19th century along with the railroad; during the holiday season, the sunny fruit is plentiful, inexpensive and travels well. Another explanation involves Bishop Nicholas and bags of gold (the oranges representing gold delivered to a poor family). And some think that food, especially a citrus fruit in the midst of winter, is a tangible representation of abundance.
Oranges aren’t exactly local for Eugeneans, of course. This holiday season, how about a new twist on an old tradition — a tangible representation of abundance involving yummy, healthy food with local origins? Do we have some ideas for you!
REALLY Cool Beans
The cold and rainy growing season in the Willamette Valley makes it a difficult place to grow beans, but that doesn’t mean beans grown here aren’t good.
Local farmers have been transitioning from grass seed to growing beans and other grains, explains Karin Sundberg of Hummingbird Wholesale. Local transitional organic garbanzo beans, sustainably grown at Hunton’s Farm in Junction City (available at Grower’s Market), are, Sundberg says, “the best quality we’ve ever seen — plump, creamy and delicious.”
They may seem a little spendy — and are in fact about 50 cents more per pound than the other U.S. grown beans that Hummingbird distributes — but consider it a worthwhile investment: A grass seed farm transitioning acreage to food crops, Hunton’s Farm planted several bean and grain crops this year that failed due to a particularly cold and rainy growing season. The farm also invested tens of thousands of dollars in equipment to clean, mill and package locally grown grains and beans.
Hummingbird also suggests local organic black beans grown by a Veneta farmer and inventor who prefers to remain anonymous (available at Sundance, Kiva, Grower’s Market and Capella Market).
A local grain and bean booth will be set up at the holiday Farmers Market by the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition, and staffed by the WFFC and by Lonesome Whistle Farm through the third weekend in December. Hunton’s Farm and Lonesome Whistle Farm will have locally grown grains and beans available for sale, including no spray teff flour, transitional organic/Food Alliance certified lentils, transitional organic/Food Alliance certified garbanzos and conventional whole wheat flour.
Eugene Local Foods (eugenelocalfoods.com), an aggregator of locally grown and produced food, offers what Doug Frazier of ELF calls “really cool beans,” — fancy, colorful heirloom variety arikara, calypso and Ireland Creek Annie beans from Lonesome Whistle Farm, all certified organic (sold separately, $7 per pound).
But what, then, do you do with all those fancy legumes? ELF has suggestions on its site, or consider a gift of Eating Close to Home: A Guide to Local Seasonal Sustenance in the Pacific Northwest ($19.50), a cookbook by Pleasant Hill resident (and Oregon Bach Festival administrator) Elin England that contains 141 recipes made from foods grown in the Pacific Northwest.
All Fruit, No Cake
You can still give an orange, of course, but Hummingbird suggests their own organic dried cranberries, which begin with fruit from Coquille cranberries and are dehydrated with a touch of honey (available at Friendly Street Market) as well as organic dried blueberries (at both Sundance and Friendly Street Markets). Eugene Local Foods has blueberry jam as well as blueberry merlot jam both from Springbank Farm ($4.55 for a 7.25 oz jar), as well as organic blueberry spread (made with ripe organic blueberries from the Willamette Valley) from Sweet Creek Foods in Elmira ($3.95 for 10 oz. jar) and organic strawberry spread from Sweetwater Farm.
Ah, Nuts (Sauces, Too)
You just might want give some organic chocolate hazelnut butter to dip those oranges in. A creation of Hummingbird Wholesale, it’s made with locally wildcrafted betony, a traditional panacea herb, and uses organic fair trade dark chocolate and organic roasted Oregon hazelnuts, along with organic palm fruit oil grown on a Columbian cooperative farm that is fair trade, pro-worker and uses sustainable farming methods (available at Sundance, Friendly Street Market and Red Barn Natural Grocers). Hummingbird’s organic roasted almond butter in jars is sold at Sundance, Red Barn, Capella, Friendly Street and The Kiva; organic roasted filbert butter in jars is sold at Red Barn, Capella, Sundance, Market of Choice at 29th & Willamette and Friendly Street. Prices vary slightly among stores, but all are under $10.
And after the holidays, someone just might appreciate that you provided the fixings for a yummy dinner. Need sauce? Eugene Local Foods features Sweetwater Farm’s enchilada or marinara sauce ($4.95 for a 16 oz. jar).
Karin Sundberg of Hummingbird says natural foods make great gifts because “Fresh, locally grown food tastes better. We’ve heard that eating local food is good for the environment (i.e. much less fuel is used for transportation) and our local economy.” That’s not all, though. She adds, “It is also a sweet and powerful act to buy and eat locally grown crops — it is about being in relationship — and this is a beautiful and significant thing. Beans and grains are simple and wholesome, and somehow this feels perfect for a holiday gift.”
“When we buy local food,” adds Hummingbird owner Julie Tilt, “not only does it support local farmers to continue to grow foods for us, but also, eating locally grown food is good for us. Our bodies assimilate better the nutrients of the food that grows in our bioregion.”
Eugene Local Foods makes it easy to shop from home — just register as a customer, select what you want during the ordering period, pay online using their secure system, and then pick up your products at either Hideaway Bakery, 3377 E. Amazon Dr. (behind Mazzi’s Restaurant). or the Ninkasi Brewery patio, 272 Van Buren, on a Tuesday evening (Pony Express delivery is also available in some locations for an additional fee; see “how it works” on the site for more details). ELF also offers gift certificates and roomy canvas Eugene Local Foods tote bags ($12). Find out more about Hummingbird at http://wkly.ws/wz
While you’re out looking for local food gifts, don’t forget the farmers markets: Lane County Farmers Market (at Holiday Market 10 am-5 pm Saturdays and 11 am-5 pm Sundays Nov 27-28; Dec 4-5; 11-12); Hideaway Bakery Market (9 am to 2 pm every Saturday, 3377 East Amazon, behind Mazzi’s) and The OG Corner Market (Wednesdays, year round, 295 River Road, corner of Thomason & River). More information available at www.lanefood.org/farmers-markets.php