‘Celebrities’ share local meals in eighth Challenge

Readers of A la Carte’s print edition likely noticed that the blurb next to my photo at the top of the page changed.

That’s right. I’ve once again signed on for the Eat Local Challenge, albeit in a modified form. My participation as one of Thrive’s “celebrity eaters” will be shared primarily through social media. That format, of course, is intended to reach audiences beyond the pages of the newspaper and posts to this blog.

The nonprofit business-development group that created the Challenge eight years ago also has secured celebrity-eating commitments from state Rep. Peter Buckley, Ashland and Grants Pass mayors John Stromberg and Darin Fowler, ACCESS nutrition programs manager Phillip Yates, Anne Leavens, nutrition services supervisor for the Central Point school district; Brad Russell, executive director of Rogue Valley Family YMCA, Kate Dwyer, branch manager of Josephine Community Libraries, Bill Meyer of KMED radio and media personality and author Jeff Golden.

Thrive asked all of us to promote the Challenge on its Facebook page by posting photos of our preparation and enjoyment of local meals at least three times between Sept. 13 and 22. I’m committing to posting one photo daily, or thereabout, in addition to commenting on other posts and mentioning local food sources that I’m using. Look for these on Facebook and Twitter.

While I’m relishing a reason to try some local foods that I’ve only recently run across, as well as giving the nod to some producers never before featured in A la Carte, I don’t plan a strict adherence to local for every meal. I’ve already engaged in that exercise in previous years (2007, 2008 and 2009) and found it too repetitive. If you’re curious what a daily local-food diary looks like, feel free to search the archives of this blog.

And although I’ve never participated in the Challenge at its “purist” or “supreme” levels, I am going to make a concerted effort this year to use Rogue Valley products over those produced elsewhere within the state (Franz bread and Willamette Egg Farms eggs, for example) in my daily meal depicted for social media.

There’s also a good chance that I’ll seek out some locavore specials at participating restaurants, such as Medford’s Buttercloud Bakery and Ashland’s Tot, two of my favorites. I also plan trips to local farmers markets to take advantage of sale prices from vendors, like Sherry’s Pasta, for some of my staples.

I hope to celebrate the Challenge’s conclusion at Talent’s New Sammy’s Cowboy Bistro, which pioneered the concept of local and seasonal eating more than 20 years ago. Restaurants offering special locavore dinners this month include The Avalon Bar & Grill in Talent, Ma Mosa in Grants Pass, C St. Bistro in Jacksonville, Elements in Medford and Smithfields in Ashland.  

Planning ahead for the Challenge makes the event a little less, well, challenging, according to Thrive. That means stocking up on some groceries for the week to prevent last-minute grabs for processed snacks and other convenience items. As a new mom, I know all about mindlessly gobbling some form of starch to relieve hunger and sleep deprivation.

I’m fortunate, though, to have a fairly large garden at my disposal, courtesy of my mother-in-law’s dogged efforts. My freezer already is the repository of local pork and lamb. And I’ve spent the past few weeks picking blueberries on the South Coast and freezing peaches from friends’ trees.

Fall salmon fishing on the Coos River

I’ve also recently acquired some local staples, such as Rogue Olive Oil, featured in this week’s food-section story, Seed Oil Co. oil and seed butter, also the subject of its own story and, Sisterfields fruit vinegars, which also had A la Carte exposure over the past year. Homemade jams and other condiments happily punctuate my pantry.

The icing on the cake is a fall chinook salmon landed in North Bend this past weekend. After the first meal of fillets with a stir-fry of garden-fresh long beans, eggplant and chilies, salmon burgers formed from the scraps are on tonight’s menu. My husband, Will, lovingly carved up his first Coos River fish and froze enough steaks to last through the upcoming week.

Eating local doesn’t get any more delicious.

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  • Blog Author

    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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