OR Show – the culinary odyssey

Written by leehart on August 9th, 2012. Posted in Travel

One of the best things about driving to and from Outdoor Retailer’s Summer Market is the food.

The following mouth-watering itinerary could even inspire you to take the trip just to get the goods.

salt lake city downtown farmer's market

So many temptations at Salt Lake City's Downtown Farmer's Markets

Salt Lake City. Every Saturday in the summer SLC’s Pioneer Park hosts one of the best Farmer’s Markets I’ve ever been to. I was hoping to score some cherries but this year’s weird winter and spring meant cherries came and went early. I scored some fresh figs instead reminding me of last summer’s Mediterreanean sojourn and making me miss the idyllic week I spent off the coast of Croatia on a magical island. Besides fresh produce, the market has delicious prepared foods and ethnic specialties (like a delicious tamales for just $2), breads and other yummy edibles, lots of fresh organic honey, and heaps of arts and crafts. I’ve been known to come to extend my stay in SLC just so I can shop this amazing farmer’s market.

vetere melons

Vetere's sets the gold standard for melons

Green River, UT. Home to the John Wesley Powell River History Museum, it’s a tough call to decide if Green River is better known for the soldier/geologist/explorer of the American West or for its melons. I’m a regular at Vetere’s as are legions of other loyal fans, some of whom have been customers for decades since the Vetere family opened its first roadside stand in 1958 . Sure they have delicious candy-sweet watermelon and cantaloup but do yourself a favor and expand your culinary horizons to some of the other varieties like Crenshaw, Winter Queen and Striped Clondike. Some folks call Green River the melon capital of the World. They may not win on quantity but in terms of flavor, they’ve got to be a the undisputed heavyweight champeen.

palisade peaches

Fuzzy orbs of deliciousness

Grand Junction/Palisade, CO. Peaches. Sweet juicy peaches. So outstanding are these beauties from Colorad’s Western Slope that Palisade hosts a Peach Festival each August, a veritable peach-a-palooza, with kids events, runs, a pedal-paddle-pedal race and of course peaches galore from pies to ice creams, preserves to salsas, booze and just plain peaches. This year’s event is Aug. 16 – 19. If you go, be sure to ask around for the local vinegar and olive oil maker; the fig balsamic vinegar is sinfully good. I have bought and steamed fresh greens just so I could have an excuse to pour this nectar of the gods on them. This part of Colorado is the produce and wine capital of the state and fall harvest time can turn unsuspecting tourists into farm-to-table foodies.

olathe sweet corn

Mmm, mmm good Olathe sweet corn

Olathe, CO. Growing up in the midwest, when my family first moved to Colorado we were stunned by the bland produce. The red round things looked and felt like tomatoes but tasted like . . . water?  And we were certain even pigs on the farm would’ve turned their snouts up at what stores passed off as corn on the cob. But Olathe is different. Olathe sweet corn is the closest thing to truly sweet corn that can hold a candle to the cobs of my youth.  It’s by far the best corn in Colorado. Even though I’m a household of one, I buy a dozen so I can share my bounty with friends back in Salida.



Cruise lines appear to be sailing toward geotourism

Written by leehart on January 5th, 2009. Posted in Geotourism, Travel

Every industry has its canary in the coalmine and for travel, some would argue that cruise lines are the proverbial canary.
Travel industry pros skeptical about emerging industry trends are more willing to begin to gently embrace that trend if it can be shown that the major cruise lines are onto it.
So I thought I’d Google around and see what I could find out about the debates and tactics under discussion in the cruise industry.
March 2006. Conservation International’s Center for Environmental Leadership in Business publishes “From Ship to Shore: Sustainable Stewardship in Cruise Destinations.”
The report was produced by CI as part of its work through the Ocean Conservation and Tourism Alliance (OCTA), an initiative between CI and the International Council of Cruise Lines working to protect biodiversity in main cruise destinations while promoting industry practices that minimize environmental impacts.
“Although cruise tourism has the potential to overwhelm fragile destinations if not managed effectively, the industry is also a great potential ally for conservation, because many cruise passengers are attracted by the opportunity to experience new places and cultures,” stated Russell Mittermeier, president of CI, in the From Ship to Shore Foreword.
The report features stakeholder examples of tangible steps taken to ensure a sustainable future for cruise tourism while maintaining a destination’s natural and cultural integrity. It also offers recommendations on best practices for the cruise lines, governments, civil society and shore excursion operators.
For example, this latter group is encouraged to “form partnerships with local communities and indigenous people in order to include cultural elements in their shore excursions and implement operating procedures to minimize negative impact on the local environment and cultures.”
Feb. 2008. Geotourism was recognized as a new travel trend at the American Association of Port Authorities Annual Conference.
May 2008. Allies within the Belize cruise tourism industry signed a declaration of commitment to create sustainable cruise tourism practices. Conservation International hailed the accord between the government of Belize, the private sector, NGOs and cruise lines as the “first such document to address considerations by an established nature tourism destination,” and predicted the accord would become a role model for cruise line destinations worldwide.
June 2008. Conservation International and Cruise Lines International Association signed an agreement to renew the Ocean Conservation and Tourism Alliance to minimize the cruise industry’s environmental footprint and protect biodiversity.
A press release about the agreement stated CI will continue to work with CLIA to develop and implement good practice standards and training tools for shore excursions, support conservation projects in key cruise destinations and raise awareness and support for conservation issues among cruise industry customers, employees and vendors.

Geotourists relish the distinctly different

Written by leehart on January 4th, 2009. Posted in Geotourism, Travel

More than a century ago the great American author noted Mark Twain opined, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.”
Therefore, it is disturbing to note State Department stats showing just 30 percent of Americans possess a valid passport.
Travel and interacting with people in other cultures enriches our lives and I contend that traveling with respect and humility for other cultures helps make it harder to contemplate war. Pay attention when you travel and beyond foreign language, dress, customs and religions, at the heart of it, we are share some core aspirations. People want to live in peace and want to make their world and the world around them more comfortable and safe for their friends and loved ones, especially their children.
A travel industry-wide mindset focused on pleasing everyone and making folks “feel at home” is eroding the distinctive characteristics that drew visitors to a destination or attraction in the first place. As underscored by a Travel Industry Association report, people are beginning to realize that destinations are morphing into homogenous places that offer similar experiences. Characteristics such as unique local customs and cuisines, architecture and culture are the primary draws for those consumers who take the most trips, spend the most money and produces the greatest volume of visits overall.
A pet peeve of mine on this topic is the rise of the all-inclusive resort. Perfect for time-strapped travelers and others who like a more predictable experience, all-inclusives insulate visitors from the authentic natural attractions, small local businesses, villages and towns of the “real people.”
There are other forces at work too, that if left unchecked, will lead to further erosion of the diverse and vibrant cultural fabric of this planet. Many immigrants who came to this country at the turn of the last century hid their languages, cuisine and customs in an attempt to blend in and be an American. In the same way, indigenous people, frequently shed their traditional food production and preparations, traditional attire and cultural customs in order to better assimilate into enviable Western culture.
Therefore I believe it’s important to propel the principles of geotourism, which at its core “represents restorative and reconstructive forms of tourism that enhances a destination’s natural and cultural distinctiveness, as well as provides a high-quality visitor experience.”
I am relieved the TIA study finds that the travel habits of the 55.1 million Americans who could be classified as geotourists are guided in their travel decisions by a high awareness of the world around them and have a seemingly insatiable appetite for unique and culturally authentic travel experiences that protect and preserve the ecological and cultural environment.