'Rich Bounty' of Pacific Northwest Celebrated at Local Food Conference

Feb 3, 2017

Sea urchins, ice cream and salsa don't have much in common, except that they're edible. But, they're also all harvested, grown or made in Oregon. This Monday at Lane Community College, the Local Food Connection brings community members, business owners and farmers together for a day of workshops and networking.

Sea urchin eggs or "uni."
Credit Wikimedia Commons

This is the conference's 11th year and event coordinator Jared Pruch says every time, attendees look forward to meeting other people who work in food-related fields that rarely overlap, like fishermen and ranchers.

Pruch says there's a rich bounty of food in the Pacific Northwest and it's important to establish connections between purveyors, farmers and chefs.

Pruch [:21] "One of the things that's really amazing about Eugene and Springfield is just how rich our food business scene is here and I think it's sort of a facet of our community that is sort of taken for granted and part of what we hope to do at an event like the Local Food Connection is to really remind people what a unique area we live in."

And unique it will be. At the conference, there's a workshop on using seasonal seafood from the Oregon Coast and Pruch says they're not just talking about dungeness crab in the winter or albacore tuna in the summer.

Pruch [:15] "They're going to be doing a cooking demo where they're going to be preparing gooseneck barnacles and urchin and, this new product that's being grown down in Bandon that's called 'dulse.' And apparently, it's a bacon-flavored seaweed that cooks up kind of crunchy."

Pruch says at the conference, business owners will have the opportunity to learn how to do well financially and do good for their community.

Pruch [:16] "Some social enterprise businesses like Young Mountain Tea Company and Reality Kitchen. As well as some larger well-established businesses like Mountain Rose Herbs and Hummingbird Wholesale talking about how they structure their business to not just make a profit but also, do good in the world."

The theme of this year's conference is "Preserving Farmland for Local Food's Sake." The Local Food Connection begins Monday morning at 8 a.m. at Lane Community College.