You’re sitting there staring at your giant strawberries in their clear plastic container and take a bite of what should be a sweet mouthwatering treat, but instead, the greeting is overwhelmingly bland. You look down and notice the berries come from a few states away grown by a farm you’ve never heard of. It’s November and the cold rain hitting your window makes you daydream of being in the warm sunshine picking strawberries straight from the vine and into your bowl you brought from home.
It’s a struggle – it seems you are constantly getting further and further away from the source of your food and the people behind the products you consume. You wrestle with the reality that businesses adopt a state of mind where efficiency (and cost) overshadows quality. You know your community is filled with farmers growing remarkable produce practically right outside your doorstep, however, you are overwhelmed with how to incorporate more local offerings into your daily routine.
We understand completely – and that’s why we put together four reasons why we source our ingredients locally along with resources to help you do the same.
Reason 1: Know your farmer to know the quality of your ingredients
With any local produce, it starts with the farmers. pFriem prioritizes growing relationships with local purveyors all throughout the Gorge, as well as Oregon and Washington. We believe that this is the best way to ensure you are receiving quality ingredients.
To give you an example of one of our local connections, we’d like to introduce you to our friends over at Flower to Flour Farm - Revelyn Rawdin and Patrick Morris. This duo has been avid gardeners striving for self-sufficiency since 1983. Flower to Flour Farm officially began growing produce for commercial sale in 2012 – the same year pFriem opened its doors.
Revelyn & Patrick supply pFriem’s Tasting Room with seasonal produce as early as April and depending on the year as late as December. From their approximately 25 different crops, pFriem purchases most of them: salad greens, kale, chard, strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, leeks, beets, beans, radishes, zucchini/summer squash, winter squash, basil, mint, tarragon and garlic. pFriem is just one of the local businesses that Flower to Flour farm delivers to regularly.
“We LOVE that we get to spend our days doing work that we are passionate about and that the community appreciates and supports what we do,” says Revelyn. “We are always amazed at the level of appreciation that comes our way every time we deliver to pFriem.”
Reason 2: Understanding and appreciation of the complexity of local organic farming
Not only is Flower to Flour farm local to the Gorge, they also approach their organic farming methods with thoughtful care. Organic farming benefits the soil, plants, insects, birds & the community. “We know that what we provide our customers is the best we can produce and our clients and their customers tell us they taste the difference as well,” says Revelyn on the topic.
Farming organic does not come without its challenges though.
“Growing organic means working harder to avoid losing crops when you have a detrimental insect/bacterial/fungal infestation or weed problem. You cannot just spray to get rid of a problem, it includes long-range planning for crop rotations, cover crops to enrich the soil and companion planting to bring in predator insects to do their job. There is so much to learn about the complexities of the natural world,” explains Revelyn.
You might be thinking “Well, I always buy organic – does it really matter what farm it comes from?”. We think so. Here’s a comment from Rachel Suits, a recently retired Hood River County Small Farms extension agent.
“I think one of the misconceptions that I see many consumers fall into regarding organic is that not all organic produce is actually good for the environment or fits in the same holistic values. For example, there are many corporate organic farms that don't necessarily do healthy soil practices. I do, however, hear many consumers that will not purchase anything that's not organic only to misunderstand actual practices done on the whole farm. If someone is a hard-core organic consumer, it is best to know the farmer and farm practices. Getting organic produce in Rosauers from CA might not be as good holistically as getting local conventional produce from a farmer that is thoughtful and intentional about practices. I think of pear growers like Lisa Perry from Cody Orchards, that is conventional yet very thoughtful about her practices.”
Reason 3: Environmental & economic impact
Sometimes it can feel overwhelming and unachievable to make a positive impact on the environment and local economy. However, just by replacing a few regular purchases with local ones your efforts will add up!
Think about it, sourcing ingredients locally helps eliminate plastic packaging waste and reduce fuel consumption with shorter delivery distances in smaller vehicles. By buying local and eating at restaurants that support your community farmers, you can feel good about the steps you’re making towards being a better steward of this earth.
Not only that, buying locally grown food supports the farmers in the area who are most likely your neighbors, family, or friends. Keeping the money within the community builds a stronger local economy!
Reason 4. Eat Seasonally and reap the benefits
Look, we too wish we could have Mt. Hood strawberries picked right off the vine 12 months out of the year. However, we have discovered there is beauty in the diversity of fresh seasonal offerings.
You might have noticed that the pFriem Tasting Room menu can vary per visit. Though we try and have our staples (mussels and frites, a burger, and of course mac n’ cheese), we also mix things up seasonally – just like our beer. Our chef crafts dishes with what’s available during the specific time of year and our guests are able to experience the Gorge cuisine at different seasonal stages.
"Once you start talking to farmers and artisans in your local area, sourcing locally becomes second nature. It's really about developing relationships, which begins by talking to people at your local farmer's market. Before you know it, you're getting phone calls from farmers you've never met. They've heard you're looking for some great kale, or basil, or they know someone raising terrific lamb and they thought pFriem would want it on the menu. It's really exciting to be a part of it!" says pFriem's Chef, Justin Congdon.
By eating seasonally, you benefit from the flavorful, nutrient-packed offerings while keeping variety in your meals.
So how do you start incorporating more seasonality & local into your daily routine? We suggest you start small. Try to commit to one day a week (or even one meal) that is completely sourced locally.
Sourcing local ingredients might be daunting but it’s definitely achievable, and we think you’ll enjoy the perks just as much as we do.
We’d thought we’d leave you with some final words from Revelyn about our Gorge farming community:
“Soulmate describes one’s perfect companion; I don’t know a comparable word for a location that fulfills a similar place in one’s soul. If I did then the Gorge (particularly the Mt Hood/Parkdale area) would be that place for me. The energy of the mountain, the kindness, and generosity of the community, the complete support of every business we work with. How does one describe a place that radiates HOME on every level? We particularly love how tight-knit the farming community is. SO supportive of each other.”
If you want a taste of Flower to Flour Farm – come by our Tasting Room!