LocalHarvest Newsletter, December 27, 2019
Seeding Hope

The landscape of agriculture and food is changing rapidly these days. In my daily news feed are articles about robots, cell-cultured foods, drone delivery, driverless trucking, climate instability, and more somber topics. Change is happening at a dizzying pace, so much so that sometimes I feel like going full ostrich and putting my head into a hole in the ground to block out the noise. But then I take an expanded view, recognizing the long arc of planetary and human history, and take some deep breaths. I don't have to sanction all the changes, nor invest my dollars into them. I can keep directing my mental energy and my food dollars towards farmers and efforts that are congruent with my values and are building the kind of world I want to leave for my children and grandchildren. I want to fight for what I believe in, rather than against what I don't. Long-term efforts like LocalHarvest are what I believe in. Do you know that we are just finishing our 20th year helping consumers and farmers connect over good food?

The last two years have been a 180 degree transformation for me. I used to largely focus on the negative and play the victim. External events would darken my moods. I often felt wanting for more, I never was satisfied. Through a lot of self-improvement activities and habits, I see life completely different now. I find that taking stock of what I am grateful for makes me both hopeful and motivated for more positive change. I find that what you appreciate, appreciates. I am aware there are many indicators that our food and farming systems are flawed, maybe even broken. But there are always hopeful signs.

My local farmers markets operated by Gorge Grown Food Network pumped over $600,000 into the local economy and supported 82 family farmers, food producers, and small business owners in 2019. For a largely rural area (the Columbia River Gorge), those numbers are incredible. The multiplier effect probably exceeds over a $1 million dollars. Our local Native American tribes are organizing to call for the removal of a couple key dams on the Columbia and Snake Rivers that are decimating native salmon stocks. They are organizing for change. A new pig producer and charcuterie maker in the Hood River Valley just obtained their USDA certification so they can now scale up and start wholesaling their yummy porky treats to a larger audience. The need at our local food bank has increased, but our local farmers and gleaners have also stepped up to add tens of thousands of pounds of fresh produce to the Food Bank shelves and help folks in the region eat more produce. My state of Oregon just passed a bill to increase the amount of money for farm to school efforts and help cafeterias serve more local and regionally-grown foods. Individually, these data points are fantastic, collectively they are remarkable. They illustrate the power of ideas and collective action. We can achieve more together than we can alone.

What are some data points, both qualitative and quantitative, that give you signs of hope? What are you doing in your personal and collective worlds to build a more helpful food system? Here are some ideas I have for you, going from small steps to large:

  • Eat more fresh produce daily. I know- easier said than done. How about adding one more serving to each of your meals or swapping out a snack for a fruits/veggies instead?
  • Start a mini-garden. Just a pot or a single raised bed will grow an incredible amount of fresh produce.
  • Halt food waste in your own home. Save your meat bones and vegetable scraps in the freezer and then every so often make a pot of stock/broth. Freeze the stock for future soups, stews, and other recipes.
  • Support those farmers markets & farmstands. Try to visit a local farmers market at least once a month. If you already do that, can you visit one more time a month?
  • Buy Fair Trade. Look for certified fair trade symbol on any imported or tropical foods you enjoy- coffee, chocolate, coconut oil, bananas, avocados, etc.
  • Buy in Bulk. Consider going in on a whole animal with a few other families. It doesn't have to be a huge purchase nor does it have to take up an entire extra freezer. I buy just 40 lbs of grassfed ground beef once a year on a cow that some friends go in on.
  • Change the school food environment. If your local school has a garden, volunteer to help with it. Or if your local school has a salad bar or scratch kitchen, do they need kitchen volunteers to help prep all the ingredients?
  • Cultivate hearts and minds. If you are a farmer/rancher, invite out your local elementary school or middle school science class for a farm tour. People will better support local agriculture if they have a personal connection to it.
  • From field waste to food pantry. Participate in a gleaning project to help divert waste produce into our food banks where it is exceptionally needed.
  • Farmland protection. Advocate for your city, county, or state to do a better job protecting farmland so that it will be available for future generations to grow food.
  • Policy and politics (oh my). Finally, support political candidates who talk about food and our agricultural policy and who are willing to listen to diverse stakeholders.
  • As Andrew Carnegie said- "Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results."

    Let's drive uncommon results together. Start small, collaborate with others, and let's create the food system we all want and deserve. You all give me hope.

    With gratitude,
    -Rebecca Thistlethwaite

CSA Management

LocalHarvest created the first and longest-lasting cloud-based CSA management software out there. With two decades of experience in this space, LocalHarvest's CSAware gives you the tools to grow your business, while automating many of the tasks that bog down CSA farmers. Winter is a perfect time to take a tour and see if CSAware may be for you.

Recipe: Roasted Root Vegetables with Balsamic Vinegar.

Adapted from The Roasted Root Blog

I really wanted to highlight foods that are generally plentiful this time of the year and are great for those holiday gatherings while also being healthy. This is one of my simple, go-to recipes that is kid-friendly and can be dressed up or down.