Oregon agriculture and the food it produces will be featured in a television special in September.
Crews began filming segments for the 30-minute “Dinner in Oregon” feature this week, beginning at the home of Michelle Markesteyn Ratcliffe, manager of the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School program. The show is part reality show, part educational documentary, as Ratcliffe and Bend chef Garrett Berdan challenge three families to make meals using Oregon products that are fresh, frozen, dried or canned.
The intent is to demonstrate the diversity and quality of food grown in Oregon, using families that are similarly diverse and food that is home-grown, found at a farmers’ market or bought at a grocery chain store. The families include people who live in inner Northeast Portland, in the suburb of Tigard and in rural Hubbard, Ore.
“You can eat an amazing meal in Oregon, anywhere, any day of the year,” Ratcliffe said.
She describes the show as an outgrowth of the ag department’s work to use local products in Oregon school cafeterias. While schools greatly increased the use of locally grown vegetables, fruit and meat, and many started school gardens, educators told Ratcliffe that children were reluctant to eat food they weren’t seeing at home.
That reality led to Ratcliffe teaming with Portland station KATU to produce three-minute monthly segments called “Celebrate Oregon Agriculture,” which airs on a morning news program. “Dinner in Oregon” is an expansion of that idea. The program will air on KATU and on Eugene and Medford stations on Sept. 13 and 14, with a second airing on KATU Sept. 21.
“We’re trying tell that complex story of agriculture, health and the economy,” Ratcliffe said. “We’ve been trying to do in the morning talk shows and have had the simmering idea for a 30-minute TV show.”
The production cost is paid for by a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant of $53,641. Ratcliffe said the money was available because a couple other department projects underspent their block grants. The USDA has a process to amend state grant plans and Ratcliffe wrote a proposal to use the unspent money.