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For those of you following NWEI’s blog, you may recall that local food is a buzzing topic in Oregon and Washington’s Columbia River Gorge region, where nine groups recently met to participate in NWEI’s Menu for the Future discussion course. This week we have an update from Gorge News:

Starting the week of Feb. 20, nine different groups of eight to 10 people met once a week for six weeks in towns across the gorge including Goldendale, The Dalles, Hood River, White Salmon-Bingen, Stevenson-Cascade Locks and Mosier.

On Sunday, April 29, at 5:30 p.m., the Mosier group (hosted) one big community potluck at the Mosier Grange with all 80 participants from each of the individual groups.

Using the Menu for the Future discussion course book (created by the Northwest Earth Institute), these groups of diverse citizens explored the confusing number of food choices and contradicting information around health, fair trade, industrial agriculture, organics, family farms, sustainable food systems, GMOs and other juicy topics related to the food system.

The Mosier group of around 10 volunteers facilitated and organized the Let’s Talk Food Discussion groups because of their enthusiasm for the Menu For the Future curriculum. After the Mosier Group participated in the discussion course last winter, they were inspired to take action. They started their own Farmers’ Market in downtown Mosier last summer and have now organized the food discussion groups this spring with hopes that other communities will also become active in their food system.

A number of local establishments helped by providing a place for the groups to meet including 10 Speed East in Mosier, JoLinda’s in Stevenson, Solstice Pizza in Bingen, Presbyterian Church in The Dalles, Grow Organic and Dog River Coffee in Hood River.

Scholarships for the course books were available from Gorge Grown Food Network, which made it possible for anyone to participate regardless of income.

For more information call Emily Reed of the Mosier group at 503-360-3532.

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Late last month citizens throughout Oregon and Washington’s Columbia River Gorge area began participating in a series of Menu for the Future discussion groups as part of the “Let’s Talk Food” initiative, hosted by the Gorge Grown Food Network, a citizens’ and farmers’ initiative working to build a regional food system in the rural Columbia River Gorge region of Oregon and Washington.

The Mosier, Oregon group of Gorge Grown kicked off an ambitious project this winter: they’d like to help set the record for the largest number of food discussion groups running at the same time. Groups began convening the week of February 20th and are now in full swing, with groups running from Goldendale to Parkdale, Oregon.

Using the Menu for the Future discussion course books, the groups are exploring the confusing number of food choices and contradicting information around health, fair trade, industrial agriculture, organics, family farms, sustainable food systems, GMOs and more. At the end of the courses, the Mosier group will be hosting a community potluck with all participants from all of the individual groups.

If you are in the Gorge and would like to be involved in the future, contact Emily Reed at 503.360.3532 or learn more at the Gorge Grown Food Network’s website.

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