08 July 2011

Food of the Gods

The Food of the Gods

I knew it.

The experience of eating sweet, summer raspberries can be described as nothing less than divine, even down-right spiritual, depending on how lovely the weather is outside.

Now I know why.

The story begins near Mt. Olympus with a nymph named Ida, who was caring for the young god Zeus. Ida was out picking snow-white berries to calm the crying child, when her finger was punctured by the thorns of the bush. Her blood dripped and touched the white berries, causing them to be stained for all of eternity.

Not bad…

Rubus Idaeus– the Latin name for European raspberries, is rooted in this story,  translating roughly to “bramble bush of Ida”. Divine origins or not, Oregon produces some of the most gorgeous berries around. The climate of the Willamette Valley is perfect for cane berries with warm summer days and cool summer nights. In fact, according to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC) the Pacific Northwest produces most of the raspberries in the U.S., with Oregon holding the number one rank in producing the unique and elusive, black raspberry.

Summer raspberries are not only delicious, they are full of antioxidants ready to go to work against free radicals and other nasty, little havoc wreckers. They are also full of fiber, magnesium, and high amounts of polyphenolic compounds, thought to fight cancer.

Raspberries are best eaten fresh, but if that’s not possible you can always freeze them for later use. Just lay out a cookie sheet and spread them out as a single layer. Freeze until firm and transfer to a plastic bag until you’re ready. Simple.

Portland Farmers Market has already seen our first batch of berries in this season, and it certainly won’t be the last. In the next few weeks, expect to see pints of delicious raspberries alongside strawberries, cherries, and later in the month, pints of delicious blues.

If you’re looking for recipes to go with your divinity-inspired haul, there are resources available on our website and in the heads and hands of our farmers and vendors. Just like legends from the ancient Greeks, sometimes the best knowledge is that which has been passed down through the ages, from those who craft the divine.

-Nicolette Smith