After more than a week of local meals (with a bit of deprivation), I thought I deserved the decadence of a weekend meal at New Sammy’s Cowboy Bistro in Talent.
The fine-dining establishment pioneered the concept of a locavore restaurant decades ago and is still a champion of locally produced, in-season foods, many from its on-site garden and orchard. Of course, that attention to detail comes at a cost. Our meal for four with two bottles wine topped $300 with a tip. (Dimly lit photos on my Facebook page don’t begin to do the meal justice.)
But I’ve long tried to dispel the perception that locally produced foods can’t be purchased on a budget. For the Eat Local Challenge, I spent about $25 on bread, butter, eggs, greens and pasta at Rogue Creamery and Rogue Valley Growers & Crafters Market. That was more than a week ago, and I still have some on hand for tonight’s dinner. I supplemented heavily, of course, from my own garden and my husband’s good fortune of catching a salmon a few weeks back, knowing full well that the price tag of those items is much harder to pencil out.
The farmers market is giving shoppers who receive supplemental nutrition assistance even more bang for their buck this month at its Saturday session in Medford. The Fresh Rewards program, in conjunction with Hunger Action Month, matches the first $4 that Oregon Trail recipients spend on locally grown foods at the Saturday market on The Commons. The program takes place throughout September while funding lasts.
Designed to stretch the food dollars of Southern Oregonians in need, Fresh Rewards is a collaboration between Ashland Food Co-op, Thrive and ACCESS. Depending on its success, the market may expand Fresh Rewards to other future markets in other locations, according to market General Manager Lori Hopkinson. In addition to Oregon Trail cards, the market also accepts credit and debit cards.
Organizers say it’s time to turn the tables on availability of locally produced foods to low-income families. While more than $56,000 of the market’s fresh, locally produced foods went onto tables of needy households in Jackson County over the past year, that’s just 1 percent of the $69 million in food-assistance benefits redeemed countywide, according to the project’s news release.
See an interactive map of local farmers markets on our website.