Grist for the mill

In This Issue: Spring, 2018

By Scott Ki / Photography By Uli Westphal | Last Updated March 04, 2018
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What a difference a year makes! As I write this, Treasure Valley Idahoans are experiencing a recordsetting winter again. But this time, it’s not sub-zero temperatures and heavy snowfall wreaking havoc on local farms and communities. It’s spring-like weather that’s likely to lead to low snowpacks across southern Idaho and concern over whether there will be enough precipitation to “help sustain flows in the later summer months,” according to the February USDA forecast.

Whether one believes in human-caused climate change or not, one has to admit that temperatures have risen through the years (since 1880, according to NOAA) and weather patterns across the United States have become more extreme. ese changing conditions are having a profound effect on farmers, ranchers and other food producers in Idaho, not to mention our public lands, forests and rivers.

In the mountains of Central Idaho, though, there hasn’t been a shortage of cold weather. Our Edible Idaho founders Claudia Sánchez Mahedy and Guy Hand spent time in the elements playing with fire and drinking wine at Rupert’s at Hotel McCall during Winter Carnival. As you can see via Guy’s photos, it’s never too cold to grill meat and vegetables outside.

Farther north, Mina Ashkannejhad visited Deary, where the owners of Brush Creek Creamery and Pie Safe Bakery are turning the tiny town into a mecca for pastry and cheese connoisseurs from the region and beyond. She said, “e team’s focus on quality creates a wait list of customers eager to dine on Pie Safe’s monthly pre-fixe dinners sourced from Brush Creek Farms and other local vendors and keeps national cheese connoisseurs eagerly awaiting the next batch of Brush Creek’s insanely good labneh . . .”

Meanwhile, Carissa Wolf explored how Boise Farmers Market leaders are weighing a number of factors associated with the tough decision to come in out of the cold and establish a yearround indoor location. As the hard copy of this issue reaches the streets, we’re waiting in anticipation as farmers markets throughout Idaho launch their seasons.

As we move into spring, many Boiseans are looking forward to sampling the newest culinary creations from Sarah and David “DK” Kelly, founders and former owners of cult sandwich maker Bleubird. Harrison Berry spent some time with the Kellys before they closed their popular downtown sandwich joint to focus on their next culinary adventure, called Petite 4 and set to open on the Bench in April.

It always seems like spring down in Oaxaca, Mexico, “the likely birthplace of agriculture in the Americas,” where Casey O’Leary toured the city’s ethnobotanical garden. There, she reflected on how “the lives of humans are intimately intertwined with the plant world” and thought about Idaho and “our area’s own complicated relationship to plants, from Native foragers through Chinese gardeners, Mormon homesteaders, commodity monocultures, factory farms and so much more.”

As I learned while writing a profile of Berlin-based artist Uli Westphal, commodity monocultures and factory farms are front and center as themes in many of his works. Westphal has traveled the world documenting the great diversity of nature and the psychology of supermarkets, including those in Idaho.

Back in Boise, Drew Dodson sampled an all-season treat made by Louis Armstrong—an Idaho entrepreneur, not the jazz legend. He reported the high-protein, whey-based frozen dessert really tastes like ice cream. Finally, Adam Cotterell snuck away from home and his wife and two kids to drink cider and root contestants on as they rode the “circle of death” and competed for prizes at the Handlebar, a watering hole that emphasizes all things cycle-related.

Welcome to spring!

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