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Local Food Journey

Celebrate our area’s tasteful bounty during Local Foods Week Aug. 2-8

Posted by Anna Lombardo on 07/31 at 12:44 AM

The 10th annual Local Foods Week, organized by the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA), will be held during the upcoming week. Beginning on Sunday August 2, and running through Saturday, August 8, a host of events—all focusing on local food—will take place in the State College area.

Participating restaurants will offer deals and specials throughout the week. According to PASA’s website, Harrison’s Wine Grill & Catering, located at 1221 E. College Avenue, will donate 20 percent of a customer’s check when they mention PASA. Harrison’s is a Buy Fresh Buy LocalⓇ partner, which means that they have “made a commitment to feature local foods and to support local producers,” according to the organization’s website. PASA coordinates the efforts of Buy Fresh Buy LocalⓇ in Pennsylvania. 

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Local Food Journey

Local Chefs Compete for Boalsburg Farmers Market’s 5th Annual Golden Basket Awards

Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 07/28 at 02:33 PM

Six local chefs from Central Pennsylvanias finest dining establishments will compete for the Boalsburg Farmers Market Fifth Annual Golden Basket Award on Tuesday, Aug. 4.  This event is held by the Boalsburg Farmers Market and is part of PASAs (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture) Local Foods Week. The event features chefs preparing a main dish and two sides from ingredients produced by Boalsburg Farmers Market vendors. 

The chefs gather their ingredients at the market, then prepare their plates for submission to the judges in front of market guests. The chefs have only 45 minutes to assemble the dishes. After the judges have tasted and scored all of the chefs offerings, an awards ceremony is held to announce the new Golden Basket winner.

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Local Food Journey

Local Food Notes for July 24

Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 07/24 at 12:02 PM

Local Foods Week, Mid-Summer Case Sale at Mt. Nittany Winery, and The Seven Mountains Music Fest at Seven Mountains Wine Cellars

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Local Food Journey

Rainy summer leads to challenges for growers at Tait Farms

Posted by Anna Lombardo on 07/23 at 12:34 PM

30 days of rain: when my sister, a rising freshman at Penn State, arrived for her orientation during the first weekend of July, this is what they told her. While since that weekend State College has had some relief from the wetness—notably, Arts Fest weekend saw sunny skies and high temperatures—since then, some inevitable showers and storms have passed through the area. The continual precipitation not only poses problems for those people worried about a potentially frizzy hair day (me), but also for another, unexpected group: farmers.

It seems strange that too much water could be an issue for food growers, but in fact it is a serious threat. Certain crops are susceptible to unusually wet weather, and depending on what a farmer grows, excess rain can destroy an entire yield. Kim Tait, from Tait Farm Foods in Centre Hall, tells me that when there is a lot of rain, tomatoes in particular are a cause for concern. 

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Local Food Journey

Local Food Notes for July 10

Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 07/10 at 12:21 PM

Local food at our two arts festivals this weekend, Penn State Berkey Creamery’s 150th anniversary, your favorite produce is now at area farmers markets, where to get fall garden vegetables, and Harrison’s Wine Grill’s herb garden bounty inspires delicious summer cocktails.

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Local Food Journey

Attention to detail in local food and drinks sets Liberty Craft House apart

Posted by Anna Lombardo on 07/09 at 02:13 PM

If you’ve visited any one of a number of popular restaurants in State College—including, but certainly not limited to, The Deli, The Saloon, and Bar Bleu—then you’ve had a taste of the Dante’s Restaurants and Nightlife experience. Since the founding of Hi Way Pizza, which opened over 50 years ago under the precocious expertise of Andrew Zangrilli, Dante’s has seen significant growth in town, most recently with the establishment of Liberty Craft House at 346 E. College Avenue. Since its opening in February of this year, managers J.P. Mills and Jennifer Zangrilli report that business has been “nonstop,” news they shared with much satisfaction and maybe a hint of exhaustion.

I soon understood the fatigue, as Mills and Zangrilli related to me what they called the sometimes “painstaking” efforts that go into putting together and running a place like Liberty. From the brickwork that lines the front of the restaurant (the bricks come from Chicago); to the iron railings surrounding the outdoor seating area (they were re-purposed after originally being used in the former location of another Dante’s establishment); to meats and cheeses that the Liberty staff cuts to order (neither is ever pre-cut, and the restaurant does not use auto-cutters); Liberty explicitly takes pride in their “passion for knowledge, skill, and small-batch artisan goods,” no matter what it might cost them in weariness.

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Local Food Journey

These berries are a well-kept, delicious local food secret

Posted by James Eisenstein on 07/07 at 01:12 PM

I’m passionate about all things relating to local food (a shocking surprise to folks who know me), including eating it. And if it is organic even better. And if its fruit better still. And if it is the fruit pictured above, well it’s a toss-up between them and raspberries in my book. 

From our experience displaying them at the Jade Family Farm stand at local markets, most people have never tasted one. In fact, most don’t know what they are. The most common answer for the uninitiated is “grapes?” People who lived in Europe or England recognize (and prize) them instantly. And for good reason. They are absolutely wonderful, with a complex blend of sweetness and tartness that make them a delight to eat raw or in jams or pies or as a sauce for fowl, beef, or pork, or to spice up a salad, or…well, the list goes on. I can’t think of a more spectacular food that is virtually unknown here, though currants, paw paws, and persimmons would all be runner ups.

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Local Food Journey

Double Berry Bundt Cake a red, white, and blue July 4th treat

Posted by LacCreta Holland on 07/03 at 01:36 PM

The berries have arrived in Happy Valley! 

We have lots of raspberries on our bushes in the backyard; the June rain has helped them grow as large as we have ever seen! The blueberries arrived from the Kiwanis Club last Tuesday, so now I have 30 pounds of blueberries to find wonderful recipes for. Yes, some of them have been eaten out of hand, as well as freezing many for winter oatmeal.

But I love to try new blueberry recipes.

This Double Berry Bundt Cake is an adaptation from a recipe I just received from and it is SO GOOD! Easy to make and very moist. Your family and holiday guests will rave about this cake that you can eat for breakfast/brunch/dessert. It’s a red, white and blue treat.

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Local Food Journey

Cool/wet weather raises risks for garden fungal diseases

Posted by Jamie Oberdick on 07/02 at 12:57 PM

Rain is mostly a gardener’s best friend. While you can water during dry spells to keep plants alive, nothing seems to give them what they need to grow and produce like a good soaking rain. However, too much rain can be harmful to your garden. Along with causing weeds to grow like crazy and keep you away from chores, wet weather is what garden fungal diseases like blights and powder mildew thrive on. Combine that with cooler weather, such as this weekend’s fall feel, and you have the potential for large-scale garden losses.

Without a doubt, it’s a good idea to take steps to prevent fungal diseases before they get established. While some like early blight and powder mildew can be controlled, late blight is a death sentence to your tomatoes and potatoes. I’ve had late blight wipe out my tomato plants in a few days. So what can you do? Here’s a few tips:

- Give them some air: Good air circulation enables plants to dry out properly between rains, sometimes preventing fungal spores to take hold. You can do give them the circulation you need with tomato plants by removing lower leaves and ensuring they get good support. Be sure you do this sort of thing when plants are dry, as you can actually spread disease by fussing around in a wet garden.

- Water properly: If we indeed return to typical summer weather and have a dry spell (which would be a big help in fighting garden diseases), then at some point we’ll have to water. It’s much better to water plants via drip irrigation hoses or by putting a hose at the base of a plant than it is to water from above. Why? Because by wetting the leaves, you’re raising their chances for getting a fungal disease by giving the spores some much needed moisture.

- Keep them fed: Giving plants fertilizers, organic or non-organic, helps keep them healthy and better able to fend off diseases. Also, it’s a good idea to keep weeds under control. Along with hosting diseases, they compete with the good plants for soil nutrients.

- Spray: While many garden diseases are terminal, if you catch them early enough, they can be treated. There are a variety of sprays out there that work, including homemade organic ones that use common household products such as baking soda or even milk. The goal here is to make the environment hostile to fungus without harming plants. One I use is neem oil, which you can purchase at many big-box stores, garden centers, or online. Neem has an added bonus, it also works as an insecticide. Speaking of that, many garden pests such as cucumber beetles transmit garden disease, so be sure to keep them under control as well.

- Mulch ‘Em: Black plastic mulch raises soil temperatures to the point where fungal spores are killed. Mulch such as grass clippings spread around the base of the plant helps prevent soil-born pathogens from being splashed on the plant during heavy rains. And, there’s even reflective mulch out there; the reflected light confuses insects and keeps them away from the plant during early stages of growth.

Be Vigilent:  It’s a good idea to take a walk around the garden and check plants for any changes in leaf appearance or stunted growth. There are several disease databases out there for gardeners that are available via a simple web search. Even if you don’t do anything else in it that day, give your garden a once over.

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