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Sustainability | Agriculture | Ecotrope

Midwestern gal happily engages with Northwest food and drink

As a new contributor to Ecotrope, let me briefly introduce myself and how I fit into the environmental reporting team at OPB. I’m the community engagement manager for OPB’s new environmental news partnership EarthFix. I work closely with our journalists and stations to see how we can get you, the community, involved in our work through conversations, information sharing and whatever else we can dream up. We want to know what you care about, what you want to talk about and what you want to learn more about. Connect with us by email, through Facebook or Twitter.

One way I always love engaging with community is through food. I come from a Filipino family, so our gatherings (and lives) tend to revolve around food. Last weekend at my first neighborhood block party, we broke bread together (and salads and grilled goodies and berry desserts) and made new neighborhood connections. And in true community engager fashion, I found myself volunteering digital media making skills to expand our neighborhood map.

Some of my favorite Northwest staples may seem trite, but I grew up in the Midwest at a time when food was mostly a non-event (unless it was our indulgent Filipino gatherings), where many proteins tasted like over-salted chicken and fruits flavors resembled styrofoam. Now I’m grateful for fresh, local flavors like Chinook salmon, Netarts Bay oysters, morels, Walla Walla onions, Hermiston melons, marionberries, cherries, blue cheese, locally distilled vodkas and numerous hair-raising coffees.

Though I lament the sometimes bland food palette of my younger years, as my taste buds have evolved, my hometown Cleveland has also grown up. Cleveland has become a veritable foodie town complete with celebrity chefs like Iron Chef Michael Symon and sustainable eateries such as The Flying Fig and The Greenhouse Tavern. There is also much more awareness and effort towards sustainable food practices and access to healthy good foods with cross-community groups like Greater Cleveland Congregations and the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Food Coalition.

I’m lucky to live walking distance from the delightful, well-sized Hollywood Farmers Market, which not only provides access to local farms, but also creates a space for community gathering each week. I just learned that they will be staying open year-round this year, so I won’t have to suffer that November panic of what to do with my Saturday mornings. Enjoy a few photos I snapped last week at the market.

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