04 March 2009

55| the gorge.

one of my most favourite things about the internets is learning about food.

i love my cookbooks and food encyclopediae, and they're great for long-term reading, because frankly i cannot look at a screen long enough to meal plan for a week. usually, i use the internets to look up the calories or nutrtional information of a food {especially over lunch hour with new, undiscovered foods}.

however, i've been buying more organic fruit lately, since my garden isn't producing anything other than rosemary right now, and i don't love the idea of pesticides in a lot of my food {sweet potatoes anyone? red peppers? a side of monsanto's politics and round-up? no thanks}. anyway, i happen to notice on my pear at lunch, "columbia gorge certified organic". i knew about the second part, the certified organic part. but, i didn't know what the columbia gorge was. and now, i happily do:

Nathanial Coe brought to the Hood River valley the first fruit trees in 1854 when he arrived to establish Oregon's first post office and mail routes. In 1876, E.L. Smith planted the first commercial orchard, 30 acres of apples (Newtown Pippins and Spitzenburgs) and peaches. In time, apples became the dominant crop. In 1919 the Hood River Valley had a disastrous freeze that killed many apple trees. With that, growers began planting pear trees to replace the apples. Today there are 15,000 acres producing pears, apples and cherries, with pears accounting for 92% of the total tonnage.

Cherries have been grown in Wasco County since it was first settled in the 1850's. The county is well suited for cherry production due to its deep, fertile soils; however, the most important factor contributing to the success of the cherry industry in Wasco County is its location east of Mt. Hood. The rain shadow provided by Mt. Hood results in many sunny days and only 12 inches of annual precipitation. Sunny days are a crucial component to mature the crop and prevent rain damage as the crop ripens. Wasco County currently has 8,000 acres under production and is the #1 producer of sweet cherries in the state of Oregon.

..and that, ladies and gentlemen, is why i'm a food geek.

note: i did tag this as "eco-good", even though my fruit did have to travel from oregon. columbia gorge is a non-profit group of growers, and they work to promote the fruit industry through education, research and marketing. so, really, they are doing good for the industry and for the environment as a whole.

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