Amber Madrone, Wildberries Marketplace

If you have spent any time at HSU, you know that Wildberries is walking distance and sort of like a Trader Joes, Whole Foods-ish sort of place — great sandwiches, a Ramones in-house, a great little sunroom/dining area/hangout and lots of opportunities to buy local products…thanks in large part to Amber Madrone.

Wildberries Website

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Alissa Sarvinski, Agriculture Program Eureka High School

I have been known to joke that if you plan on eating in the future, you better support youth who are pursuing a career in farming, fishing, ranching, and other forms of food production — but really, if you think about it…it’s not really funny.  The average age of a farmer in the U.S. is 58.3 years…and if you go down to the marina to pick up albacore tuna, check out the average age of the person who owns the fishing boat…it does not bode well for those of us who want to keep on eating.  So do I think there won”t be food in the future?  Of course not — China has already tapped into this ready market of people who are willing to shop in big box stores and only want the cheapest price.  I’m talking about high quality, fresh, local produce…and really, truly organically produced (not just the label) by people who care about the people who eat the food.

I know — yawn!  If you are reading this you already get it.

I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Alissa Sarvinski, a young woman who not only grew up on a dairy farm, with family owning the Corn Crib in Pepperwood, but also someone who feels it is important work to teach youth about the possibilities of a career in Ag.

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Allison Poklemba, Foraging for Sea Vegetables

If you are like me, you know just enough about foraging to be dangerous!…Yes, I’ve keyed out a mushroom in a mycology course…but did I feel confident?…not so much…

My first seaweed foraging expedition happened when Rhonda Wiedenbeck took me and Simona Carini out — and I found my new best friend…Kombu.  Why kombu?  Because it was easy to ID, and there are literally tons of it out in an area that I felt completely comfortable with.  Not being a swimmer I really wasn’t sure I would enjoy being in that great big ocean wading around — but as it turns out, you go on a really slack tide and you have a nice padding of gigantic rocks between you and the great blue ocean (ie., death by drowning).  Kombu Drying (2) Kombu Drying (8) Kombu Drying (14) Kombu Drying (17) Kombu Drying (19)

So I was very happy to hear that Allison teaches classes in foraging for Sea Veggies — which involves a little bit of time spent in a classroom, and an expedition on a super low slack tide to gather them.

To find out more about Allison’s next class — click here.

To hear part 1 of the two part interview

To hear part 2 of the two part interview

Ilene Poindexter and Matt Marshall, Westhaven Blackberry Festival

While they call it the Westhaven Blackberry Festival — I’m all about the Huckleberry Pies — seriously — have you ever picked huckleberries?  To say tedious is an understatement — with the possible exception of thimbleberries, huckleberries are the most time consuming berry to pick in my humble opinion.  And these women — who get together every Tuesday at 2 starting in January to make pies all year long for the festival — make and sell huckleberry pies (and blackberry too).

I finally had the chance to eat a slice of the huckleberry pie and it was the best I’ve ever had.  It had perfect crust — and the berries are making my mouth water just writing this.  The festival has been going for over 50 years and is the last weekend in July — if you get a chance, go to the festival.  They even pre-sell pies so if you miss the festival — you can buy a pie to pop into the freezer.  It comes with instructions on how to bake it.

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Check out the Facebook Page for the Westhaven Blackberry Festival

Johnny Gary and Heather Plaza, Organic Matters Ranch

I love a farmstand, a place where the farm and the people come together.  Growing up my family always stopped at farmstands, usually they sold corn and we would buy enough to absolutely gorge on it — we would just eat corn for dinner and I thought I was a real rogue getting away with not eating from all the food groups for that one evening meal.

Organic Matters not only has a farmstand, but they accept EBT cards — so people receiving CalFresh benefits have the option of eating great fresh local produce and meat.  They can use their benefits to join the CSA — and receive a box of produce each week — or just use their benefits to shop on a weekly basis.  Being flexible like that isn’t always easier — but Johnny and Heather are dedicated to making it work for their customers.

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Find out more about Organic Matters Ranch

Juliette Bohn, Food Waste and Sustainability

I am always impressed by how people are able to take one persons waste and turn it into a resource.  Food waste, both pre and post-consumer is one of those things.  Spent grains in beer making can become food for cattle, the solids from tofu making can feed hogs.  Even things like the pruning from vineyards can feed browsing animals — it could be endless as long as there are people like the farmers and ranchers in Humboldt who are creative thinkers and some of the most resourceful people I’ve ever met.

Listen here to Juliette Bohn, consultant.

Tammy Erickson, Bien Padre

Mmmmmmm, crickets anyone?  One of the most surprising pieces of information that came from Tammy Erickson from Bien Padre is that our favorite local tortilla chip company also makes specialty chips…like cricket chips called Chirp Chips for a company down in the Bay Area.  My first introduction to “cricket meal” was in an article in a culinary magazine that talked about the great high protein content in cricket meal and how it was a food of the future, readily available quality insect cooked to a crackily crunch and then powdered so we don’t see any pesky antennae, legs or thorax…which is ok with me.

While my brain thinks it is a fine idea to eat up those crunchy critters, my stomach just doesn’t cooperate as well when facing the recognizable deep fried treat — so yes, please, turn my into meal first — and a chip?!  I’m all for it.  Whenever I watch those nature shows about locusts, I’m wondering why we haven’t invented a machine that would suck them up and  turn them into something edible…well…this might be it.

Of course in addition to these unique eats — there are still the same standby tortillas and chips that I have enjoyed since I was a lowly college student living on chips and salsa.  Just thinking about it makes me want to open the bag in my cupboard and get the salsa out of the fridge…how about you?!

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About Bien Padre

Chef April Goess from the CIA

June Walsh loves to tell people that her daughter works for the CIA — the look on their face is truly priceless.  It is even more priceless when they discover that the CIA June is referring to is the Culinary Institute of America, and April is a trained chef teaching on their campus in San Antonio Texas.

April grew up here in Humboldt County and spent quite a bit of her youth working in some of our local landmark restaurants like the Eureka Inn and the Benbow Inn.  A great beginning for someone destined to make a career working with food.  April made her way back to Humboldt for a visit in August 2016 and taught a couple of classes to help raise funds for the Humboldt Botanical Garden Foundation (a cause near and dear to June’s heart).Chef April 1 Chef April 2

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Find out more about the CIA in San Antonio Texas