Who are your local food heroes? Edible Portland, a magazine published by environmental nonprofit Ecotrust, holds a Local Food Hero contest every year to recognize businesses that go the extra mile for social, environmental and economic sustainability.
Since 2009, the group has taken nominations for food heroes in six categories: Farm/ranch, restaurant, food artisan, beverage artisan, retailer and nonprofit. The winners are determined by a public vote. Check out this year’s winners, based on around 2,000 votes:
Dancing Roots Farm
Shari Sirkin and Bryan Dickerson grow heirloom, organic veggies on 10 acres in Troutdale. They’ve been offering their harvest to CSA members for 17 years, and they’re up to 150 members. They also collect donations for a CSA “scholarship” program to help others afford a membership. Sirkin advocates for strong connections between local farmers and eaters as the president of the Portland Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition, and farm supplies numerous Portland restaurants including Nedd Ludd, Genoa, Park Kitchen and Navarre.
Grand Central Bakery
Did you know Grand Central gets 100 percent of its flour from Oregon and Washington? That’s one of its sustainability highlights. The bakery works directly with farms to source ingredients for meals made from scratch, and it donates leftovers to people in need. The company is an underwriter for the Food Alliance sustainability certification system, and it boasts that after recycling and composting most its waste (and sending some to feed pigs on a local farm near its Seattle locations) the garbage leftover can fit into a pickle bucket.
Bee Local Honey
It doesn’t get much more local than producing your own honey in your own backyard. But if you’re not into keeping bees, Damian Magista of Bee Local Honey will do it for you. He makes micro-batch, neighborhood-variety honey in several east Portland neighborhoods and markets the hyperlocal honey based on where it was made. “What dictates the taste is the flowers and forage in that particular area,” he says in this video. “It’s more than just the honey, it’s really about getting people to be more in touch with their immediate environment. What can I do at my home, in my yard to make a difference?”
Fort George Brewery
One example of how Astoria’s Fort George Brewery keeps its ingredients local: The Co-Hoperative Ale seasonal brew made from hops grown by locals. The brewery also has its own garden that uses spent grain from the brewing process as a soil amendment. And I know from drinking beer there for many years that the pub also supports local artists by hiring them to paint the ever-changing menu boards.
Food Front Co-op
Portland-based Food Front has been a community-owned grocery store since 1972 and now has more than 6,500 owner-members. General manager Holly Jarvis says the company always says yes to people making new local food products and even helps them write their first invoices. It’s the first step toward getting local food on more grocery store shelves, she says. The co-op supports local fundraisers at its cash registers – including gardens at local schools – and invites its members on field trips throughout the year to farms and ranches that supply the store.
Friends of Family Farmers
As a nonprofit, Friends of Family Farmers is all about education and advocacy for small-scale farms. At monthly “InFARMation and beer” events in Portland, the group brings city-dwellers and farmers together to learn about sustainable food issues. The group organizes listening sessions for small-scale farmers to talk about their concerns, including food security, food justice and economic development. And it brings those issues to lawmakers in Salem.