Posts Tagged ‘meat’

Sunday, February 20th: 10 Years of Market Meat

February 20, 2011

George Vojkovich of Skagit River Ranch moving his herd of beef cattle from one pasture to another. Photo copyright 2007 by Zachary D. Lyons.

10 years ago, you could not purchase meat, seafood or poultry at farmers markets in King County. Today, we rely upon farmers markets for the highest quality meat, seafood and poultry produced by true artisans who care about the products they produce and the animals they husband.

Rib steaks from Olsen Farms being prepared for a cooking demonstration at Wallingford Farmers Market by Chef Seth Caswell of emmer&rye. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

In February of 1999, during the annual Washington State Farmers Market Conference at Pike Place Market, a workshop was convened to discuss how to make meat, seafood and poultry sales possible at farmers markets. Attendees at this meeting including USDA inspectors, state food safety regulators, King County health officials, market managers, ranchers, and myself, the newly appointed Executive Director of the Washington State Farmers Market Association. As workshop facilitator, I began the discussion with two instructions: that we were there to figure out how to bring meat, seafood and poultry to farmers markets; and that we would not accept “no” as an answer. The USDA inspectors in attendance refused to speak — they would not answer a single question yes, no or maybe. But everyone else seemed enthusiastic.

A beautiful pastured chicken from Growing Things Farm. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Interestingly, later that year, I found myself in a conversation with a member of King County Health Department’s meat inspection program — yes, King County is one of the few counties in the U.S. that has one — at the University District Farmers Market. In this conversation, the County staffer said to me she thought people shouldn’t eat animals unless they were willing to travel out to the farm and look the animals in the eyes first. In response, I pointed across the street to the University District Safeway store, and I told her that every Saturday, after they got their fruits and vegetables at the farmers market, many people walked across the street to Safeway to purchase factory-farmed meat. These city folk were very unlikely to ever go to a farm to meet their dinner, I told her. So, if people are going to eat meat anyway, why shouldn’t we give them the option of purchasing that meat directly from farmers who are treating their animals with care and are producing a healthy product?

Cans of albacore tuna from Fishing Vessel St. Jude. Copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

In June 2000, King County Executive Ron Sims, at the request of farmer Michaele Blakely of Growing Things Farm and Chris Curtis of the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance on the King County Agriculture Commission, convened the King County Farmers Market Health Regulation Task Force. At its first meeting, County inspector Jim Thompson, who had participated in the 1999 workshop, presented what he thought was a regulatory solution to allow meat sales at King County markets by adapting language in the mobile meat sales code. His proposal was enacted with only minor revisions by the King County Board of Health in August 2001.

Goat shoulder steaks from Quilceda Farm. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Then, in late 2001, the first ever USDA inspected Mobile Slaughter Unit (MSU) came on line. Based in Bow, it was built by the Island Grown Farmers Cooperative using USDA grant funding in order to address the extraordinary stress put on both farmers and their animals when transporting animals from the San Juan Islands to processing facilities on the mainland. Consider that Washington had only five such facilities at the time in the entire state that would accept less than 50 animals for processing at one time, and the two in Western Washington were both significantly far south of Seattle. The MSU, by contrast, was designed to be able to travel from farm to farm, and to fit on ferries, so that farmers could humanely dispatch their animals right on the farm, reducing the stress on farmer and animal alike. And it offered the additional benefit of allowing farmers to compost byproducts from the process right on the farm, instead of it being added to feed and pet foods via rendering plants.

Fresh ducks from Stokesberry Sustainable Farm. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

With the new King County code in place, and the MSU online, a revolutionary shift took place at King County farmers markets. Indeed, it changed the way all of us will look at farmers markets forever. The idea that farmers markets could offer more than just fruits and vegetables seemed unthinkable to many before 2001, and yet now, farmers markets are rife with all manner of farm products, from cheese and milk to grain and flour, from fermented foods to wine. Wine was not legal at farmers markets in Washington until 2003. The first grain products entered King County farmers markets in 2007. And yet it is hard to imagine our dear Ballard Farmers Market without these products today.

Fresh whole keta salmon from Loki Fish. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Today, Washington has four MSUs, half of all those nationwide. Farms are investing in infrastructure for on-farm processing of all manner of poultry. Fishing vessels no longer must serve at the mercy of large canneries and low prices. And we get to benefit from the pride and care these passionate, hard-working people put into their products, giving us the highest quality meat, seafood and poultry most of us have ever eaten. And they have helped us grow our Ballard Farmers Market into the #1 farmers market in the state, around which an extraordinary food-centric neighborhood has blossomed, from one end of Ballard Avenue to the other.

Lamb rib roasts from Sea Breeze Farm. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

So today, when you pickup your beloved local meat, seafood and poultry direct from the producer, think about that day back in February 1999, when in essence a sort of Lexington & Concord event took place in the local food movement — when a group of people told, instead of asking, the USDA and local regulators that we wanted local meat at our markets. Because the rest, as they say, is now history!

There is much more waiting for you at your Ballard Farmers Market today. Just check the What’s Fresh Now! listings in the upper right-hand corner of this page for a more complete accounting of what is in season right now. But please note that due to our recent cold weather, some crops may not be available as anticipated.

Sunday, August 8th: Rochester Fights Back… Rather Weakly. Also, Smoky Sun Photos & Gluten-Free Bread!

August 8, 2010

A busy Ballard Farmers Market basks in golden smoky sunlight on August 1, 2010. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

As you all know, I’ve been beseeching you all to vote for Ballard Farmers Market in the 2010 America’s Favorite Farmers Market Contest for the last several weeks. Voting is open through August 31st, so you need to get on this. Currently, Ballard continues to rank near the top, behind markets Rochester, NY and Davis, CA. And all three of our markets are putting on a full-court press to pile on votes as quickly as possible. That means we still need each and every one of you to vote for your Ballard Farmers Market. Since no other market in Washington is anywhere close to being in the running here, you can shed any silly Seattle guilt you might have about choosing one market over another here as your favorite. Look, we all know Seattle has the best market system in the country. We also know Ballard is the best of the best. So vote not just for Ballard, but for Seattle… for Washington! This is about showing our pride in the best gosh-darned local food system in the America. And if you are not yet convinced to take the 30 seconds to vote, check out what we received from Rochester, NY on Friday…

A spooky golden hued sunlight bathes Boistfort Valley cabbage. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Apparently the folks in Rochester are concerned about us out here in Seattle, and they are reading the Ballard Farmers Market blog. Really. In fact, one Evan Lowenstein of Rochester, New York, was kind enough to share this bit of enlightened commentary on my recent partisan rants in the America’s Favorite Farmers Market campaign. Evan wrote:

Hey dude, here’s a little friendly response to your posts mentioning Rochester. I’m from Rochester, and it’s not fair or informed to suggest that all we’ve offered the world is “Kodak and Pyrex.” Rochester’s nicknames have been both “The Flour City” and “The Flower City” because of its significant agricultural and horticultural heritage. We don’t like being hinged completely to Kodak in the minds of the uninformed, because there’s so very much more to Rochester; and Pyrex was invented in Corning, about 100 miles from here, not in Rochester. What’s more, you associate us with one of the two “biggest states”, one of the Goliaths that David Washington needs to beat for all to be right in the world. The truth is that the Seattle region is about three times more populous than Greater Rochester. So who’s really the big bully here?

George Page of Sea Breeze Farm all lit up in gold. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Wow. Thanks for clarifying that for us, Evan. Pyrex is from Corning. Rochester, Corning, Utica. Whatever. Ah, but the culinary masterpiece, the Garbage Plate is from Rochester! (This may be one reason why Rochester’s population is less than Seattle’s.) I am sure the city’s founders with all their flour and flowers are very proud. And what strikes me first about our dear Evan is that he must be the only person in Upstate New York who lacks a sense of humor.  I mean, sheesh! Has this guy ever heard of a spirited razzing by the opposition? Heck, has he ever seen the Mariners (or any other baseball team, for that matter) play in Yankees Stadium? Here in polite Seattle, we banned “Yankees Suck!” t-shirts in Safeco Field, but in New York, it seems the ushers must be handing out projectiles for Yankees fans to hurl onto the field at visiting teams’ outfielders. Look, I grew up in Upstate New York myself. And it sounds to me like Evan would be more at home out here, writing the Uptight Seattleite column in the Weekly. So come on, people, are we really gonna sit on our butts and let Rochester beat us in this contest? Hell, no! Vote now!

Salad amaranth from Nash's bathed in golden sun. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And let us examine some of Evan’s “facts”. He says that Big Bully Seattle should not pick on itsy, bitsy little Rochester. Oh, boo-hoo. But let’s look at the numbers. Seattle has three times the population that Rochester does. However, Seattle has four times the number of farmers markets that Rochester has. Ballard Farmers Market is only 1 of 17 markets in Seattle proper, while there are only four in Rochester. And the Rochester Public Market (which allows reselling of food products and the sale of general merchandise, according to their website, and offers a garage sale and flea market on Sundays), is open four days a week, to Ballard’s one day. Hmm. Gee, Evan. Them numbers would seem to favor you guys, not us. And that is to say nothing about the fact that the Rochester Public Market is owned and operated by the City of Rochester. Gosh, it sure would be nice to have those deep pockets backing us here in Ballard. And Rochester has a permanent structure for its market. We have to set up in the street. On further reflection, perhaps it is Evan that is uninformed. (Oh, snap!) But now that you are better informed, please, vote for Ballard!

Treviso radicchio in gold from Full Circle Farm. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Evan also wrote

I also noticed that you are encouraging folks to vote using every email address that they have. That’s not exactly fair now, is it? I know that those promoting the contest here in Rochester are asking voters to play it fair, one vote per person… that we want to win this thing fair and square. It’s disheartening to know that our competition isn’t doing the same thing.

Oh, lighten up, Evan. Have you ever heard of exaggeration? I believe I also encouraged people to get their cats, dogs and parole officers to vote. It’s called humor. That said, does anyone believe that the kind, honest, hypersensitive people of Rochester, New York are carefully spreading the word to everyone to cast one vote per person, and that they want to win this thing fair and square? Sure, maybe they think that, but they’re not saying it. Heck, the very act of saying it imparts to people that they can vote more than once anyway. I mean, really, Evan, who are you kidding? But I must at least thank Evan for helping me illustrate why it is so important for you to vote for your Ballard Farmers Market now. (And Evan, before you have an aneurysm, please take a chill pill and accept the reality that by writing to us, you only served to present yourself on a silver platter. I do hope you didn’t ask your friends and family to check out our blog. Consider it a life lesson.)

Billy's peaches spectacular in the golden sunlight. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Hey, enough beating up on poor Evan. Have you been enjoying all the photos above that are tinged with the golden hue of last Sunday’s wildfire smoke filtered sunlight? Yeah, that weird looking sky we had last Sunday was courtesy of the wildfires in British Columbia. It made for the most spectacular light for photography. I didn’t screw with the coloring on these photos at all. That’s natural light. I think the one up top of George Page from Sea Breeze Farm is the most striking. Pretty cool, huh?

Gluten-free breads from Platypus Breads. Photo courtesy Platypus Breads.

Hey, please welcome Platypus Breads to your Ballard Farmers Market. Lindsay bakes some of the most incredible gluten-free breads I have ever encountered. They are moist and flavorful — two words one generally does not associate with gluten-free bread. If you have been looking for really good gluten-free bread, stop by and check out Platypus. You will find Lindsay sharing a tent with House of the Sun, which joined us once before, back on Seafood Fest weekend. House of the Sun specializes in raw and vegan foods, and the stuff they make is outstanding. So today, you can meet two upstart local food artisans who are creating incredible products that address the dietary needs of many of us in Ballard. But we are not sure how often we will be able to squeeze these folks in, so do check them out today, and grab a business card from them, so you can followup with them in the future.

Whole fresh sockeye from Loki Fish. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

I love how gorgeous these fresh, whole sockeye salmon from Loki Fish look. They just sparkle, don’t they? Dylan Knutsen tells me that when they catch fish in Alaska, they quickly clean and bleed them, then they pack them in ice right away and send them on a temperature controlled barge down to Seattle. He says it’s much better than flying the fish down, as it is kept better. That’s not how all fish is handled, but it is how Loki does it.

Empire Ice Cream. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

It has always been hard for me to get a decent photo of actual Empire ice cream. It is always on dry ice at the Market, and at home it just doesn’t last long enough. So I decided I would just take a photo of my Empire Ice Cream shirt instead. My purpose here is to call your attention to some absolutely superb ice cream. Tom makes his ice cream using local ingredients, from the cream and milk he gets from South King County to the sugar he sources from Idaho to the chocolate from Fremont to the many flavorings he mixes in from his fellow Ballard Farmers Market vendors. You’ll find no stabilizers, no additives, no extra crap in Tom’s ice cream. What you will find is the only mint-chocolate chip ice cream I have ever tasted that I like, because he uses fresh mint leaves instead of mint oil. Stop by for a taste, a cup, heck, a pint or three today!

Absinthe & Black Salt caramels from Jonboy. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Jonboy Caramels is back at your Ballard Farmers Market for another brief appearance today, and they bring with them their newest caramel flavor: Absinthe & Black Salt. Oh, this stuff is goooood. You must come try some.

A drawing of river otters for me by Lilly Crosby. Art copyright 2010 by Lilly Crosby. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Finally, I must give a shout out to Lilly Crosby, a young artist extraordinaire who spent the day with Alm Hill Gardens two weeks ago knocking out brilliant drawings like this one (above) for me of river otters at play… in about two minutes, I might add. It was amazing to watch. Lilly even asked me when I asked for otters if I wanted river otters or sea otters. It blew me away, and then she created this playful work of art at the snap of a finger. Lilly did all this for a greater good, too. She was taking donations for her drawings to support Hope For Horses and PAWS. Of course, you can still contribute to these worthy causes of Lilly’s just by clicking through to their websites. Or, the next time you see Lilly with her pens at the Alm Hill tables, toss her a few bucks and take home a work of art!

Lilly Crosby drawing my river otters at the Alm Hill stand on July 25, 2010. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

And remember, there is plenty more for you to find today at your Ballard Farmers Market. But before you click on the What’s Fresh Now! pages to see what all else is in season right now, please do take a moment to vote for Ballard Farmers Market in American Farmland Trust’s America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest. And thank you!

Sunday, February 14th: Flowers, Jewelry, Oysters & Spice

February 14, 2010

Gorgeous tulips from Alm Hill Gardens. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

If you are wondering why I’m leading with flowers today, you definitely need to get down to Ballard Farmers Market to buy some right now, or else plan to spend the next couple of weeks on the couch. Dude. Look at the calendar. It’s Chinese New Year. (Oh, yeah. It’s also Valentine’s Day.) If you are looking for some spectacular colors to warm the heart of that special someone, you need not buy overpriced flowers flown in from South Africa or South America. You can pick up some of these magnificent Whatcom County tulips from Alm Hill Gardens right here at your Ballard Farmers Market.

Black pussy willows from Harmony Farm. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

For a little something different, how about these wonderful black pussy willows from Harmony Farm. The pussy willow season is just about over. (Heck, it’s been over in my backyard for two weeks!) But treat these right, and they’ll dry beautifully and spruce up your home for months.

Spectacular wooden earrings from Forestlife Creations. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Dean Robertson knows how to coax the inner beauty out of any piece of wood, and the results are these lovely earrings he calls Forestlife Creations. He makes various kinds of brilliant wooden jewelry that will wow that your valentine. Remember, at Ballard Farmers Market, you can feed your eyes and soul as well as tantalize your taste buds and nourish your body. Support your local farmer and your local artist, and give a unique gift while you’re at it.

Kumumoto oysters from Taylor Shellfish Farms. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Whether or not oysters are an aphrodisiac, they certainly will perk up your night. Stop by Taylor Shellfish early today for some of these Kumumoto oysters, before Oyster Bill sells out of them, lest, again, your couch becomes your bed.

Several varieties of local paprika from Some Like It Hott! Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Spice up your night with local paprika, too, from Some Like It Hott! Charles Bodony, who grows, dries and smokes chilis to make his paprika in Port Townsend, tells me that he now has the 2009 vintage (yes, his paprika has vintages) alder smoked paprika that weighs in at a whopping seven stars of heat. Stop by to sample some, then bring some home to pep up just about anything.

Five flavors of soup from Got Soup? Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

New this week at your Ballard Farmers Market is Got Soup? Jerry Baxter makes fresh, delicious soups in a variety of flavors from local ingredients every week. Pick up a frozen quart, and bring it home for a simple, yummy, full-body warming meal. This week, look for Crab Bisque, Orange & Cumin Scented Sweet Potato, Cassoulet, and Smoked-Tomato Bisque. You’ll always find vegetarian and vegan options, too. Also new this week is Booth Canyon Orchards from the Methow Valley with D’Anjou pears.

Red cipollini onions from Colinwood Farms. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Port Townsend’s Colinwood Farms returned to your Ballard Farmers Market last week with spicy salad mix, braising greens, lots of beautiful spuds, and these gorgeous, and powerful, red cipollini onions.

Truffles, caramel sauces and molten chocolate cakes from Hot Cakes. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Autumn Martin returned with her Hot Cakes last week, too. Grab a Josephine for a lovely snack while you shop, and pickup some truffles, caramel sauce or some molten chocolate cake to pop in your oven for later. Autumn, who used to be the chocolatier at Fremont’s Theo Chocolates, uses local flours, and chocolate, of course, and even local butter.

Pork rib roasts from Sea Breeze Farm. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Perhaps you are just looking for a nice piece of meat for Valentine’s Day. How about one of these pork rib roasts from Sea Breeze Farm? The one of the left is even already Frenched for you.  And if you are really lucky, you might still be able to get a reservation for Valentine’s Day dinner by Chef Meredith Molli at La Boucherie, Sea Breeze Farm’s own restaurant, on Vashon Island. The menu looks amazing!

Some of the bowls up for grabs at "Empty Bowls," a fundraiser for Ballard Food Bank and the Seattle Animal Shelter. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Empty Bowls is a fundraiser for Ballard Food Bank and the Seattle Animal Shelter. The idea is that you donate $10 for a soup and bread dinner, and you get to keep the bowl your meal comes in. The bowls are made and donated by dozens of local artists and just plain folks. And there are some particularly spectacular bowls from top local artists that will be sold in a silent auction. You can see just a sampling of the bowls up for grabs in the photo above. The event itself takes place at the Ballard Community Center on Saturday, February 27th.

A group from Seattle Flickr Meetups photographing the Ballard Farmers Market on February 7th. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Ballard Farmers Market is always photogenic, as evidenced by a visit from the Seattle Flickr Meetups group last Sunday. Some of these folks have cameras older than mine… that use film! Actually, I think there was a camera there that was older than me.

And remember, your Ballard Farmers Market is chock full of all sorts of goodness for  your kitchen, from meat, seafood, poultry, cheese, to all sorts of fruits and veggies, baked goods, sauces, confections, fresh-cut flowers and fresh milled flours, plants for the garden, wild mushrooms, and on and on. For a fuller accounting of what you’ll find at the Market today, go to “What’s Fresh Now!” in the upper right-hand corner.

Sunday, January 31st: Fungi, Soapy, Fishy, Fruity, Leafy, Smoky & Spicy Goodness

January 31, 2010

Yellow foot chanterelle mushrooms from Foraged & Found Edibles. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

This has been the warmest January ever recorded in Seattle, and that means, among other things, that this has been a rockin’ year for local wild mushrooms from the good folks at Foraged & Found Edibles. Check out these gorgeous yellow foot chanterelle mushrooms. They’ve also had a healthy supply of black trumpet and hedgehog mushrooms lately, too.

Braised greens from Full Circle Farm. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Full Circle Farm’s availability of various greens keeps getting better every week. Above, you can see bags of braising greens from red chard (upper left), to green chard (upper center & right), to red kale (lower center), tomixed braising greens that include red & green chard and red & green kale.  They also still have baby bok choyrapini greens, and much more.

Fresh Washington true cod from Wilson Fish. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been able to enjoy fresh true cod from the Washington coast from Wilson Fish. Another one of the many benefits of El Nino we are enjoying this January seems to be that the waters off the coast of Washington have been much calmer than usual, meaning Wilson Fish can actually get out to catch some of the other wonderful fish other than salmon and halibut out there, like true cod, rockfish, sablefish, etc. This true cod is moist and mildly flavorful, just waiting for you to apply a nice spicy coating of breading for a lovely pan fry.

Just a sampling of the many varieties of paprika from Some Like It Hott! Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Speaking of adding some spice, how about some paprika from Some Like It Hott! Above, you will see just five of the many varieties of paprikas they have to offer. They grow, dry and smoke their chili peppers on their farm in Port Townsend, and you can purchase them by vintage — yes, the peppers vary from year-to-year. I enjoyed some of the alder smoked pimiento desplelete paprika mixed in with the breading of the true cod from Wilson Fish I fried this past week. Yum!

Handmade soups from Growing Things Farm. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Michaele Blakely of Growing Things Farm is first and foremost a farmer. So some may wonder why she has soap on her tables at Ballard Farmers Market. The simple answer is that her handmade soaps are themselves a farm product. Indeed, soap making is a time-honored farmstead craft. Blakely makes her soaps from the rendered beef tallow and lard of animals she raises herself. She is one of those renaissance farmers who does it all, from raising livestock and egg-laying hens to growing row crops to making jams and soap. You shop at Ballard Farmers Market to know where your food comes from, right? Why not include your soap in that equation?

This tough little beauties come to us from Phocas Farm, in Port Angeles. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Warmer and dryer, or not, it is a great time to plant succulents. And lucky for us, Phocas Farms, from Port Angeles, returns to the Market today with its many dozens of varieties of these lovely, colorful and draught tolerant plants. Plant them now, when at least it is raining regularly, if not a lot, and they’ll be all set for a long summer of your neglecting them.

Honey crisp apples from Collins Family Orchards. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Still lots of great fruit available at your Ballard Farmers Market, like these honey crisp apples from Collins Family Orchards. Collins still has several varieties of apples and pears for you to enjoy.

A beautiful case of meat and charcuterie from Sea Breeze Farm. Photo copyright 2010 by Zachary D. Lyons.

Now that is a gorgeous display of meat, isn’t it? From fresh pork and lamb to sausages, pâtés, rillettes, porchetta, pancetta and more, Sea Breeze Farm offers up some of the finest meat you’ll find around here. See that pork shoulder steak on the left? I enjoyed that simply grilled over natural charcoal with olive oil, Celtic sea salt and fresh ground pepper this past week.  Need I say more?

Remember, your Ballard Farmers Market is chock full of all sorts of goodness for your kitchen and beyond. For a fuller accounting of what you’ll find at the Market today, go to “What’s Fresh Now!” in the upper right-hand corner.