The Makah Ozette Potato Presidium – Spring 2012

Photo by Yunhee Kim for Sunset Magazine

Makah Ozette potatoes with bacon cream. (Photo by Yunhee Kim for Sunset Magazine)

In the 1980’s an unknown fingerling potato was recognized to be a staple in the diet of Pacific Coast Native Americans of the Makah Nation. The Makah occupy the region around Neah Bay, Washington, that is the most northwesterly point in the United States. Tribal lore reported that this potato had been used by these people for about 200 years. The Makah had named this potato the Ozette after one of their five villages located around Neah Bay.  More about the Ozette and how it became part of the Ark of Taste can be found here. The presidium is focused on increasing seed production to bring more seed to market. Here is where those efforts stand currently:

  • After flooding annihilated the seed crop of 2010, our partner Pure Potato had to start again with the three year process of producing an abundant crop of certified seed potato. A project they had just completed. We are grateful they are willing to do it again.
  • The Certified Generation program starts with PreNuclear minitubers. These are first grown in “test tube” then planted in the green house.  The resulting crop of mini tubers is planted the next year for reproduction in the field and then classified as Nuclear.  The following years they are classified as Generation 1, 2, etc. as long as they remain within the disease parameters specified by the Department of Agriculture.
  • This Spring Pure Potato will plant 32 pounds of PreNuclear Makah Ozette minitubers in the field. This should yield approximately 30 one hundred pound sacks of Nuclear seed potato. In the spring of 2013 they will plant 16 sacks per acre that will yield 200 sacks per acre.
Makah Ozette Potato

Makah Ozette Potato

The question for Pure Potato is; how much to plant and how much to sell in 2013? We need potential growers to tell us of their intentions and to get on the list for notification of availability by emailing marlys@purepotato.com.

Next year, 2013, depending on the yield, there may be a limited supply of Nuclear Generation Makah Ozette seed potatoes for sale at $2.00 per pound. The plan is to keep reproducing this variety and increase the volume to meet the needs of all those interested in growing it.

This spring there is some seed available from Potato Garden (800.314.1955, cdrockey@potatogarden.com).

Gerry Warren
Presidium Coordinator
cgw@speakeasy.net, 206.818.5366

Resources:

For the history and back story of this potato go to the Makah Ozette Presidia page at Slow Food USA or here for more.

Makah Ozette Potato brochure [PDF]

Pure Potato
marlys@purepotato.com
360.354.6555
9020 Jackman Rd
Lynden, WA 98264

Potato Garden
cdrockey@potatogarden.com
800.314.1955
12101 2135 Rd
Austin, CO 81410

Washington’s Wonderful Wild Chinook Dinner

On May 13, Slow Food Seattle, Ray’s Boathouse, Washington Trollers Association and Makah Tribal Nation hosted a reception and dinner  celebrating the first of the season’s Washington troll caught Chinook salmon.  The delicious and sustainable multi-course salmon dinner featured wine pairings carefully chosen by Kristen and James Michael of the Chinook Winery in Prosser, Washington. Chef Peter Birk complimented the meal with a seasonal selection of locally farmed, seasonal produce.

Chef Birk kicked off the evening with a warm welcome followed by introductory remarks from Slow Food Seattle’s Co-Chair, Lucy Norris.  The mission of Slow Food comes down to a very simple idea:  food should be good, clean and fair.  To bring this point home, guests enjoyed the evening learning and tasting how and why Washington troll caught Chinook is a fine example of good, clean and fair food.

Following the first course of grav lox, Slow Food Seattle board member and Sustainable Seafood Consultant, Amy Grondin led a discussion and Q&A with fishermen from the Makah Tribe and Washington Trollers Association. Fishing season for troll caught Chinook opened May 1st on the Washington coast.  In addition to catching salmon, fishermen are also stewards of this finned resource. We learned how fishermen are working with scientists to assure that Washington has healthy populations of wild salmon for decades to come. From habitat restoration to participating in wild salmon management with the Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, sustainability is taken seriously by the fleet.

Physical and sensory characteristics revealed what the salmon ate and where the fish traveled through spawning.  Having fed almost exclusively on krill, the roasted Chinook had a lighter flesh and nuttier taste, while the grilled Chinook, which ate mostly very small forage fish, was a deep red hue with rich, silky fattiness.  There were other differences noted to where the fish was caught: originating from both Fraser and Columbia River tributaries.

At the end of the evening, Amy made an announcement that a deal had been negotiated with Seattle area Whole Foods Markets.  For the first time, select local markets are now carrying Washington troll caught Chinook in their stores until the end of the 2009 season.  We applaud Amy’s tireless efforts to advocate for sustainable salmon habitats as well as the fishing and coastal communities who depend on fishing for livelihoods.

A Word about the Slow Food Ark of Taste

Washington Marbled Chinook Salmon was added to the Slow Food Ark of Taste in 2006.  The Ark of Taste is an international program that seeks, first and foremost, to save an economic, social and cultural heritage of a diverse variety of animal breeds, seafood, fruit and vegetables, cured meats, cheeses, cereals, pastas, cakes and confectionery.

The mission of the Slow Food Ark of Taste is to preserve traditional tastes and to celebrate them, by introducing them to the Slow Food membership and then to the world.

All of the foods on the Ark of Taste are heritage products that have real economic viability and commercial potential for the communities that grow, produce or harvest them.