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Where can I find local fruit (food!)?

Here, in the fertile Willamette Valley, we are spoiled by great harvests. A question that seems to interest people, especially in the summer time is, “Where can I go to get good, local (and organic) fruits and vegetables (food)?” My family, in particular, is in interested in cutting food costs without sacrificing nutrition. So, how can we do that?

Monique Dupré has created her own system of how to do that by buying locally, making arrangements with local meat, dairy, and fruit/vegetable suppliers all with a mix of some internet shopping. She brags that she only spends $65/month at the grocery store. To learn more about how she does things and to sign up for a workshop, visit her website ‘Sustainable Living on a Budget‘.

Living in Portland for 5 years has taught me the following:

  • Uncle Paul’s (SE 23rd & SE Hawthorne Blvd) offers year round local produce in his open-air tent at great prices.
  • Sauvie Island farmers offer many U-pick fields where you can purchase your fruits and vegetables at a fraction of the grocery cost.
  • We picked 6.25 lbs of blueberries from Sauvie Island Farms Saturday for $10.15. This yielded over 20 cups of blueberries, 18 of which is portioned in 2 & 3 cup bags in the freezer, with the 2 remaining cups divvied into pancakes and snacks.
  • Sheridan Fruit Company is going green, and they are still the best place in town for grains. Visit them for discounts when buying in bulk, especially flours and oats.
  • Cherry Sprout Produce (formerly Big City Produce) on N Albina & N Sumner
  • Co-ops around town including Food Front, People’s, and Alberta
  • Fruit stands around town… keep on the lookout! Two I know of off hand, SE Foster & SE 80th across from Fred Meyer & SE 28th between SE Steele & SE Bybee.
    • Farmer’s markets… not only do farmer’s markets serve as a great place to gather good food in one place, most of the markets give out free literature including recipes and why buying local and hormone free is important. If you can stand the crowds, visit, learn and eat tasty treats.

    When shopping for food, it’s important to remember that buying local is actually better than buying organic. “Why?” you may ask.

    Well, I’ll tell you why. It’s more evident now with rising gas costs, but one reason for buying local is to ensure food security. If something were to happen to our transportation system (such as exorbitant gas prices) and food couldn’t be shipped the 1500 average miles food is currently shipped to get to our plates, what would we eat? We need to ensure demand for local food so that we will have local food to eat.

    Secondly, buying local keeps money local instead of shipping it off to Kroger or the Walton’s. It’s been said that for every dollar spent locally, it puts two dollars back into the local economy supporting jobs and simply people.

    Third, we have more control over local food. Remember what happened to Tribal Sun a few years ago when they didn’t use organic tomatoes but said they did? New Seasons quickly pulled the product from the shelves, and the product wasn’t on the shelves for about 12 months until they seemingly remedied the problem. If Kroger’s brand of organic doesn’t really use organic vegetables, how quickly do you think the items would be pulled from the shelves?

    Eating great local food is often as simple as walking around your neighborhood to see who’s selling what. I would love to hear comments from people who have other ideas on how to save on primary sourced foods. Email me with your suggestions!

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    One Year

    Last year, July 19, 2007, my family was rudely awakened to the horrors of domestic violence.

    Peter and I were barely working between the two of us, he had been laid off and with struggles feeding Levi I was barely pulling 5 hours a week. We were at the DHS office applying for food stamps when Peter got the call that yes indeed TriMet was offering him a job. We had been at the DHS office since 7:20am and we finally got home close to 10:30am. We barely set our things down, relieved that there was more money in our future and we could at least buy food for our small family when the phone rang. It was my mother. It was one of those phone calls where you just know something is wrong, and how wrong it was. She asked if I was sitting down, and I think I sat down. She didn’t wait to tell me and simply said, “Cristi is dead.”

    My sister. Step-sister to be truly accurate, my sister who is the same age as me, only three months younger. My sister who promptly finished college to begin teaching children who have difficulty learning was dead. She had no health problems, so we all knew the story was only going to get worse. Her boyfriend, Joseph Frees, killed her. Their bodies were found in the bedroom that morning after Cristi failed to show up for volleyball practice. Her mother was phoned and prayed the entire way to her house, “God, please don’t let me find what I know I am going to find.” The lights were on and the cars where in the drive, but of course no one answered. Cheri used a cooler to climb through the kitchen window, and she was the one to find her daughter murdered and the boyfriend dead too.

    Joe and Cristi worked together. Joe served as the athletic trainer while Cristi taught and coached. It’s not surprising they found common interests. I hate that I have no good memories of him. Others do, and I suppose that is some comfort. But, for me, it’s one of those situations where I knew he was no good for Cristi.

    A murder-suicide in my family. Such horrid violence that one usually only hears about on T.V. while watching an inflated drama like that of S.V.U. has waded itself into my family. I couldn’t believe that Domestic Violence would be a part of my family. It’s something that only happens to other people right? This time, though, the other people was us. My family splashed on the front cover of the local newspapers in Grand Rapids. My family’s story for all to read. It couldn’t be a private event because Cristi affected so many.

    After we got home, I met with a local shelter group to discuss ideas for planning an event. Soon, though, I realized that with school commitments that I would not have the time to arrange something that I wanted to be on a grand scale to raise awareness about Domestic Violence. But, then I pledged to myself that I would attempt it for another year. So, the new goal became by 2009. The initial idea was to raise money and split the funds between shelters in the Portland area, and then the idea expanded to paying off Cristi’s debts.

    This goal needs to be revisited.

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    Imminent Graduation

    Today I completed and mailed the 28 invitations made for my graduation celebration. Kate helped with the little hats and Beth helped with wording. I hope those who receive an invitation at least enjoy it for its aesthetics. They actually took all weekend-long to complete. I found it easier, or perhaps more consistent to pen the text for each invitation, and that was time consuming.

    Now, all that is really left, besides those odds and ends of getting food and final preps around the house, is to ensure I can graduate. So, tomorrow I will visit PSU and see what the hang up is. I am expecting it to be the lack of requirements filled for the catalog year and the art history minor. I don’t have the patience to adjust that properly, so I will drop it entirely. I also need to find out if the two incompletes for which I filed a petition to complete was granted.

    I hope, when the day arrives, that Levi will be able to behave properly during the hour and a half long event. I hope people come to help celebrate, and I hope they enjoy themselves.

    Along with prettying our home, we’ve been planting flowers along the side of the garage. The poor sunflowers lost all the blooms they had, and the nostranias don’t seem to be doing great. We are concerned that there is something seriously wrong with the soil next to the garage. The hydrangeas are doing better now than they were over the weekend, and the marigolds are looking great. I hope it continues to work itself toward the delicate oasis I dream it to be.

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    Levi through June

    Not to sound cliché, but it’s really amazing watching my son grow up. He is this amazing little person who captures interesting aspects of both Peter and me and the rest of our family. He plays games like normal kids, and he tests limits like normal kids. Overall, though, I doubt we could be blessed with a happier kid.

    Today, Levi really took off walking. Levi has done everything on his own schedule, even down to his teeth. His teeth are actually a very poignant example. He was cutting his first teeth since four months old, but no tooth really popped through the gum-line until he hit one year. Eight months of cutting teeth and baby Orajel! Likewise, everything else has been on his own timeline from when he rolled over first, sat up, stood up, and now walking.

    Walking has been interesting. We are now at the point where parental comparisons seem to be at an all-time high. “My kid walked when he was 3 months and was speaking in full sentences by 5,” it seems the brags go. Every parent competing to see who really has the smartest kid. We know our kid’s smart, but how do you prove it when they aren’t walking on their own at nearly 17 months? You don’t is the bottom line.

    But today, Levi did walk completely on his own, turning, falling, squatting, and getting up for almost an hour! He lapped that little living room rug countless times, and the entire time he was giggling and clapping, knowing what he’s accomplished. He can walk.

    What crystallized for me, though, was an awareness of how well this kid knows himself, and at such a young age. We adults strive to ‘know thyself’ for a lifetime, and he’s got it right now. He has taken his time maybe because he’s aware that big ole head of his makes balance difficult. He practiced ‘downward facing dog’ for weeks and squats for several days, and tonight, did he use them!

    I didn’t capture any video of our now walking-monster, but instead, I made a video capturing who this kid is. I hope you all enjoy.

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    Our Digital Age

    I’ve written about this topic before. But, I suppose it will never cease to amaze me, kind of like the pager craze. My brother and his friends (Rob & Jeremy) all had pagers more than half a decade ago. It kind of felt like they were our special friends with their pagers. But now, we have phones that are music players, voice records, schedulers, and phones too. It makes sense to condense all these items we now deem oh, so important into one, but I wonder sometimes when it will stop. Will we be able to create full presentations, publication-ready documents, or maps from our palm-centrals in a few years? Or will it hold steady at basic functions like Word and Internet Exploring?

    I’m also, always, amazed at how difficult it can be to get a hold of people in our digital age. We have email, phones, and regular-old in person contact, but how many of us are really connecting with each other? We have people who are tech-crazy and we have people who’d rather take the technology and shove it. It’s like we have this odd dichotomy brewing which is aiding in the loneliness our society, as a whole, feels.

    I’m taking two Geography classes this term, each will require a project. In my quest to define, study, and understand this concept called Sustainability, one facet I have not really explored is Waste. Overall, however, I am interested in the education of the topic, educating people different ways of living our lives. A few years ago I was able to define it as “Educating people about the importance of a sustainable society.” So, in these classes, Thursday, we got together and discussed base tenants of our interest, this case being waste.

    Regarding waste, I am interested in the cycles of waste. For example, why do we buy compost at the store when if we did things differently around our yard, we’d have a “free” supply? I’m interested in waste, how we waste things; and I’m interested in the concept of throwing things away. Some recycling advocates, some environmental advocates, and other “greens” want our vocabulary to change regarding trash. If we think of everything as trash, then we lose the potential to do other things with this “trash”. A point was made by one of the gentlemen in my group. He pointed out that since we live in such a disposable society, basically, everything we’re living in is trash. So, because we ultimately throw everything away in the end, we’re living in trash at different stages of its life. And he thinks that this is a major factor contributing to our depression and loneliness in our society.

    Since our communication age doesn’t help us communicate any more, and we’re constantly living in and surrounding ourselves with trash, is there any hope? I will end with a question I would like answered. What’s your view of our disposable society, and do you agree with that claim, that living in trash leads to our dysfunction?