EUGENE, Ore. — When Katherine Lavine and her husband decided to start the Holy Cow Cafe back in 1990, they had a clear mission in mind: they wanted to make delicious, locally sourced, organic meals.
“We were considered to be quite crazy and not very realistic in what we were trying to do, so it was very difficult to get organic things back then,” Lavine said.
It wasn’t as easy as calling local organic distributor Locally Grown, as you can do these days. Instead, Lavine ended up contracting with local farmers to get them to grow the organic crops the cafe needed.
Over the more than two decades since the cafe started, Lavine’s watched the organic food movement gain momentum. Now, she’s watching as more customers, restaurants and stores also begin to focus on locally produced food.
“A lot of success in some of these markets is based on the pioneering that a lot of us had to do for the last couple of decades,” said Lavine. “The fact there is readily available locally organic food is an achievement after so many years of building up our community.”
Still, she said, there’s a long way to go.
“We’ve gone from a valley that used to grow hundreds of crops to one that grows two digits,” Lavine said. “Fifteen, 20 different crops has been the mainstay of the Oregon agricultural basket.”
The value of having more locally grown crops is obvious in the food; it tastes better and is more nutritious
“It’s really fresh food,” said Lavine. “It’s not food that’s been sitting in freezer somewhere, on a shelf or from some company far away. It’s from here.”
The food isn’t just from here; money made from selling that produce stays here, contributing to our local economy.
“Everyone we buy from — from our distributors to our farmers to everything in between who lives here — then we’re creating a community that’s inter-dependent and creates jobs,” said Lavine.