Spoil your dad with local treats
By Alex Smith
It’s a strange time to be thinking about Fathers’ Day, but it’s fast approaching. In normal times, my dad comes to visit and plays in a basketball tournament for old guys. If you’d told me a year ago that there would be multiple reasons why that can’t happen right now, I would have been very confused. But here we are.
In spite of, and maybe because of, the current circumstances, it’s important to find joy in life. Our families and loved ones can provide some semblance of normalcy, and annual traditions can remind us of what things were like just one very, very long year ago.
I can only speak for my own family traditions around Fathers’ Day, but a pretty common feature is a barbecue. Maybe you’re able to visit your dad, maybe you have to have a video call where you both grill and he wears a dorky apron. Either way, you can make it decadent by buying local foods to grill up.
We can start with the obvious choice, meats. We are lucky to have a fantastic selection of local meat producers in Whatcom and Skagit counties. You can find humanely-raised, pastured chicken from Osprey Hill Farm or Oak Meadows Farm. If you have ever tasted true, pasture-raised local chicken, you know that the flavor is unmatched, the texture is juicy and tender, and you can feel guilt-free knowing that the birds have lived a good life. Osprey Hill Farm offers delivery to the Bellingham area. Oak Meadows offers pickup and is also available at Carne Butcher Shop, and also offers pork by the whole or half.
Speaking of pork, this is probably the type of meat I eat the most of. A big reason for that is the sheer quality of the meat raised by a few local growers. Alluvial Farms and Ten Fold Farm are the two that I tend to buy from, but Bittersweet Family Farm and Samish Bay Cheese also offer pork. For the grill, pork chops and small roasts are my go-to, but you also can’t go wrong with the andouille from Ten Fold Farm. And while you’re buying, you might as well stock up on some bacon and a few bigger roasts to keep in the freezer. Alluvial Farms, Ten Fold Farm, and Samish Bay Cheese are all at the Bellingham Farmers Market. All of these farms offer online ordering.
That brings us to beef, and nothing says “stereotypical dad” like a big hunk of steak. The aforementioned Samish Bay Cheese also offers grass-fed beef and veal. Skiyou Ranch in Skagit County offers excellent grass-fed beef, and I have a special place in my heart for the owner Tarie because she asks about my dog every time I see her. Matheson Farms is another great option in Whatcom County, and in addition to beef they raise yak, a leaner option with very good flavor. You won’t go wrong with any of these farms, and all of them produce meats that have superior marbling, are tender and juicy, and have a rich flavor that makes a grocery store steak seem like cardboard in comparison. Skiyou Ranch offers delivery, and Matheson Farms has a farm stand on Saturdays as well as online ordering for a scheduled pickup.
If you’re looking for vegetables to throw on the grill, consider supporting our talented Latinx farmers. At the Bellingham Farmers Market, Mariposa Farm grows beautiful produce, and the owners, Joaquin and Liz, are some of the nicest people you’ll meet. If you want to have your produce needs taken care of for the whole season, you might try a farm share (aka CSA) from Viva Farms. Their mission is to support beginning farmers, especially Latinx and minority farm workers who have started their own independent farms. Spring onions are great on a skewer, and carrots early in the season are so sweet they caramelize a bit over high heat.
If your dad lives halfway across the country like mine, you might consider gifts that ship well. My dad is landlocked so I often give the gift of local salmon. Lummi Island Wild and Sea to Shore are two locally-based fisheries that have online ordering and ship nationwide. Smoked salmon is always a great gift, and both of these fisheries offer some amazing tender, flavorful fish. They also both embrace sustainable harvest practices so you can feel good about supporting them. Another gift option is locally grown and processed spices from Slanted Sun Farm. They offer dry peppers, powdered or whole, as well as dried shallot and onion slices and powders. My favorite is the basque pepper, which is a sweet and spicy pepper that works well on just about any savory dish. As an added bonus, Slanted Sun is donating 100% of sales in June to organizations that further the work of the Black Lives Matter movement and support LGBT+ people of color.
While this Fathers’ Day is far from normal, we can still find some ways to make it feel less strange. We can still engage in some of our rituals, enjoy the start of summer, and find some joy. Buying from local businesses that bring us great food is a way to treat ourselves as well as ensure the long-term survival of these businesses and their wonderful owners.
Find more local food on the Eat Local First Food Atlas!