Across the Pacific Northwest, urban eaters are turning to farmers markets and exploring healthier diets this summer.
In Portland, vegan chef and cookbook author Bryant Terry captured attention last weekend with cooking demonstrations and classes for kids built around his new book, "Vegan Soul Cooking," at the King Farmers Market and the downtown market at Portland State University.
In Seattle, food activists on Aug. 15 kicked off the Clean Green Market on 21st Avenue between Yesler and Fir, selling fruits and vegetables grown and harvested by local residents -- a program of the Black Dollar Days Task Force, a local non-profit organization.
Festivities at the grand opening included a walk through the neighborhood, talks by Rev. Robert Jeffrey, Pastor David Mesenbring and Richard Conlin, music and face painting.
Terry told The Skanner News that his cookbooks are autobiographical stories about his life, his family and his personal values.
The new Seattle market will run through early November. In Portland, the King Farmers Market – the newest in the citywide system – was just extended due to popular demand, to the end of October.
Terry told The Skanner News that what people eat is one of the most important decisions they will ever make – for themselves, and for the world around them.
"I think that diet is a very personal decision and I think that people need to really consider their own choices," he said.
"Especially we're seeing a moment in history where you have this generation which will potentially have a shorter life span that their parents -- we're in one of the most health-obsessed nations, but the least healthy nation.
"We have far too many suffering from diet-related illnesses," Terry said.
He listed obesity, certain cancers, and the new "double-whammy" type 3 diabetes, as "directly related to what we're eating" – packaged foods, processed foods and a largely meat-centered diet.
"There are more and more mainstream studies that are promoting a low-fat vegan diet that can prevent, ameliorate and in some cases cure certain types of illnesses," Terry told the Skanner News. "The American Diabetic Association is actually promoting a low-fat vegan diet over the diet they had been promoting for several decades."
On a smaller level, he said anyone can benefit from including more plant-based foods in their diet.
"A lot of people hear the word 'vegan' and they automatically think 'lack' -- I'm going to be missing so much in my diet," he said.
"For me embracing a plant-based vegetarian or vegan diet means opening up to a plethora of food – fruits, and vegetables and grains – that so often people with just meats in their diet don't have access to because they're so focused on that big hulk of flesh in the middle of their plates," Terry told The Skanner News.
He described one recipe he's particularly proud of from his new book, "Vegan Soul Kitchen. It's an all-green gumbo called Gumbo Z.
"It's a traditional green gumbo -- you know traditionally in Louisiana some of them had as many as nine different greens," Terry told the Skanner News. "Mine has five – it's delicious, you don't miss the meat and it's a way of getting all these rich nutrients, that rich pot liquor that's left after you finish the greens."
At the King Farmers Market Sunday, Aug. 30, Terry led about a dozen kids aged 4 to 13 through a cooking class designed to help them control their own healthier diets.
"I love working with young people because in terms of food politics and working for a more sustainable and equitable food system young people have to be in the lead," Terry said.
"More than writing books or more than composing essays and putting on workshops, the way that I get most people to think differently about the foods they want to consume, to think differently about the impact that they have as consumers and eaters, is by making them a delicious meal."
The King Farmers Market in Portland is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays, near the intersection of NE 7th Avenue and Wygant Street.
The Clean Green Market on 21st Avenue in Seattle is open Fridays and Saturdays 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. through early November. If you are interested in helping harvest for the market, meet at the Church at 9 a.m. Fridays. For more info call 206-324-3114 or visit http://www.cleangreensfarm.com