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As the final (I think) leg in my bean adventure, I’d like to host my first food product giveaway here at Culinaria Eugenius.  I’m a little suspicious of companies that infiltrate blogs to market their products, but I do like the free food sharing idea.  Plus, I was generously given these beans to spread the word about relocalization efforts in the Willamette Valley, so why wouldn’t I share the love?

The Great Bean Giveaway of 2009:

a pound of Willamette Valley pinto beans and a pound of Willamette Valley garbanzo beans for you.

These dried beans will yield around 12 cups of cooked bean pleasure.

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These little lovelies were raised on a transitioning-to-organic field in Tangent, Oregon, by Stalford Seed Farms. They come fresh from the 2008 crop, and are cloaked in the dark, rich soil from which they were born.  (That is, they need to be sorted and washed).  They plump up and cook beautifully, yielding tender, sweet, creamy, tasty flesh in a fraction of the time it takes to cook their tough, chalky supermarket cousins.

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Stalford Seed Farms (along with the project’s visionary Harry MacCormack of Sunbow Farm) is taking part in the Southern Willamette Valley Bean and Grain Project.  On their 9,000 acre farm in Linn County, they grow mostly grass seed, but have devoted some of their resources for the past three years to experimenting with food crops, staples such as beans and grains.  The 2009 Project report, from which I’ve taken all the figures below, notes that 130 acres have been converted to food crops on the farm (and I believe these are the ones that will be certified organic next year).  400 more acres are being converted, and 1,200 acres were planted with conventional soft white wheat in 2008.

Why is this important?

  • The Willamete Valley farm acreage (it is estimated) could provide food for all its residents in the valley, including the Portland metropolitan area;
  • Instead, this farm acreage is now about 60% grass seed production;
  • Food crops are only about 18%;
  • We once produced miles of produce and staples for commercial canneries and markets, and our soil is now being depleted with monoculture crops;
  • It is more costly to grow food, even with the benefits of crop rotation and diversity, and without visible and vocal demand for a relocalized food network in our area, farmers may be unwilling to make the shift.

dscf3659When I visited the farm a couple of weeks ago and spoke with Gian Mercurio, farmer, organic food promoter, and mother-in-law to the farm’s owner Harry Stalford, she shared with me some emails that gave glowing reports of the beans from local chefs and home cooks.  I am hoping to share my successes with her, as well.

So here’s the deal:

Please comment below if you’re interested in being considered for the bean giveaway drawing with your name, email address (won’t appear on comment field), and your favorite way to cook pinto or garbanzo beans.

I’ll write down your name on a slip of paper and do a random drawing a week from today (2/22/09), then contact the winner.  You don’t need to live in Eugene or even the Willamette Valley, but I can’t afford shipping costs overseas.  The beans will be shipped to you in the finest Ziploc-style bag money can buy.

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