Off the beaten path and right up our alley, Bend's Produce Patch.In winter, the word "fresh" is core to the Central Oregon vernacular. For example: "There's eight inches of fresh. Let me call in sick, and I'll meet you at the mountain." As the days become longer and the snowpack dwindles, "fresh" begins its summer job as an adjective: "There's eight pounds of fresh heirloom tomatoes. Let me call in sick, and I'll meet you at the farmer's market." Okay, maybe just-picked, organic produce doesn't inspire the hysteria of a powder day, but it can trigger Central Oregonians to salivate en masse. Our region is saturated with foodies, locavores and transplants from milder climes who know no better way to spend a summer's day than devouring a bowl full of marionberries or grilling marinated zucchini. So for those about to chop (and dice and toss), we salute you and offer this fresh produce guide for your shopping pleasure. Bon appétit!
Throughout the summer, shoppers can enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of somebody else's labor at any one of the numerous open-air farmers' markets. Bend and Redmond markets offer basketfuls of melons, berries and lettuce. Smaller markets, like those in Prineville and Madras, offer more locally raised produce. For market locations and hours of operation, visit www.oregonfarmersmarkets.org. Another great option, Richard's Produce operates a nice seasonal business in Sisters and recently expanded to Bend where it is hawking locally and regionally grown fruits and veggies from a makeshift stand in front of the old Bright Wood manufacturing facility on Century Drive. If this produce isn't fresh enough for you, join or visit one of the two CSA (community supported agriculture) farms: Fields Farm in Bend and Dancing Cow Farm in Prineville. Sign up for a season of weekly produce deliveries, or visit the farms and buy direct from the growers. For more information visit www.localharvest.org.
As summer comes to a close, so do most of the farmer's markets and CSAs. Fortunately, foodies can congregate at indoor grocers that specialize in organic and regional produce. Devore's Good Food Store (1124 NW Newport Ave.) is celebrating 30 years as a westside institution. Shoppers are lured in by the brightly colored organic produce and leave with homemade salads, dips and wraps. Newer, but no less worth the trip, the Produce Patch (400 SE 2nd St.) delivers on its name by offering an ample array of fruits and veggies, along with grains, nuts and homemade ice cream. Who doesn't deserve a treat for finishing their veggies! - Jennifer Letz