Celebrating Earth Day – Oregon Style at the Corvallis Farmers’ Market
Perhaps you’ve heard that Oregon’s temperate climate and fertile soil produces a smorgasbord of produce such as berries, world-famous pears, apples, and a myriad of green vegetables? You might also have heard that all across the state—from Portland to Ashland and from Corvallis to Enterprise—there are more than 65 farmers’ markets that provide you a place to not just buy fresh-from-the-ground goodies but also chat with the farmer who grew them.
And that’s exactly where my wife and I found ourselves on Earth Day (today) this year. It was one of those only-in-Oregon days. The blue spring sky was tucked away by a grey winter blanket and the rain was coming down incessantly as we walked towards the Corvallis Farmers’ Market at the Riverfront Park on the banks of the Willamette River. Despite the seemingly gloomy day, the market was alive with energy. Young kids in a kaleidoscope of costumes and families accompanied by dogs and strollers intermingled with throngs of other market shoppers.
The Corvallis market is unique in that it typically opens a bit earlier (mid April) than most markets around the state. This time of year, most of the booths feature early produce (kale, kale sprouts, chard, a variety of lettuce, leeks etc.), fresh cut flowers, fresh cheese, nursery plants and such perennial offerings as meat, eggs, honey and baked goods (For a Flickr photo stream of the market go here).
Going through the stands at a local farmers’ market is bit like being in a candy store, albeit a much healthier and nutritious one! We typically like to experiment and pick three to four of the most “exotic” greens—garlic sprouts, rainbow chard, dinosaur kale—along with fresh organic tomatoes, bell peppers and an assortment of fruit such as apples, berries, and bubblegum watermelon. Today, we also bought five heads of early-picked bok choi thanks to the advice of the farmer who grew them. He’d picked this variety of Chinese chard last night and recommended us to use it not as a stir-fry accompaniment but in a salad. Of course no farmers market outing is complete without the obligatory “brunch” at one of the many fresh food stands. The choices today were freshly-made calzones or yummy chicken burritos with fresh homemade tortillas. We picked the calzone and were surprised by the simple yet heavenly flavors of fresh pesto, olive oil, tomatoes and mozzarella.
With bags laden with earthly goodies and tummies delighted with the bliss of their products, I couldn’t help but think that there was no better place to celebrate the wonders of our planet than a farmers market in Oregon. As essayist Bill McKibben writes on Powells.com, “if we eat locally, we use a lot less energy” and we’re also helping local farmers. And so, if you have ever dreamed of a place where you can chat up the farmer who picked the lettuce (or bok choi) for today’s salad, come on down and head to a farmers market in Oregon.
~ Happy Earth Day!
About the Author: Mo Sherifdeen
Mo is Travel Oregon's content publisher and loves to hike the forests and mountain trails of Oregon with his wife, daughter and dog. He is also known for getting lost inside a maze of books at Powell’s, sipping an IPA (or two) and seeking the best fish 'n chips along the Oregon Coast.
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