Pledge threatens a time-honored tradition

Dee Anne Everson sent a letter to my boss Wednesday asking if the Mail Tribune wanted to join United Way of Jackson County in a six-month Healthy Snack Pledge partnership with Jackson County Public Health.

Bob Hunter saw Everson's plea to 60 local businesses and organizations as story fodder and kicked that sucker over to me.

I saw Everson's invite as a threat to Doughnut Wednesdays — a time-honored Mail Tribune tradition.

"What are you trying to do? Kill us?" I whined to Everson.

I don't know what motivates the folks at United Way. But here's how it works at 111 N. Fir St., at least for the 10 years I've been here. Payday is every other Wednesday. On the weeks we don't get a check, Hunter hits a doughnut shop on his way in to the newsroom.

The big box of fried death-wheels he plops next to the coffee pot are sort of an edible promissory note.

Often, in the afternoons, we gorge on celebratory cakes, cookies and pies. Seems like every week someone is having a birthday. When we have to work really late, such as on election nights, the bribe is invariably pizza.

It's not like there hasn't been the occasional offering of fruit and veggie trays. But, near as I can tell, the newsroom operates on adrenaline fueled by deadlines — and fat, sugar and caffeine.

I like to do my part to keep things humming and frequently waddle in bearing homemade coffeecakes, lemon bars and chocolates. (Never mind that these are my favorite treats, too. I'm a giver, I tell you. A giver.)

But things have been changing lately. It seems several of my cohorts have been cleaning up their intake acts. They're not so quick to line up for a slab of six-layer chocolate cake. Doughnuts sit in the box longer. Even the omnipresent smell of burning coffee has diminished.

Come to think of it, so have some waistlines. Hmm ... Could there be a connection?

I took a couple days off last week and soothed my soul in a staycation at my riverside cottage.

I tended to the roses, sat by the Rogue and got caught up with old friends. But most of my time was spent playing in the kitchen. I love to cook. I love to bake even more. It just flat makes me happy.

My fridge was loaded with eggs and milk from a local farm. I had two dozen eggs and enough "extra" quarts of cow and goat milk to feed a family of eight. It was time to get cracking. But since I am only one woman, I shared the fruits of my labors with friends. "Look! Cheese! Custard! Ice cream! Cinnamon rolls! Cake! Cookies! Bread!"

All organic. All delicious. But not exactly figure friendly.

Even an inveterate Sweetie Pie such as me was craving greens by the end of this bakefest.

I'd planted my little red wagon with herbs and a few veggies, but they were still little sprouts. Luckily, I'd also joined Runnymede Farm's CSA (Community Supported Agriculture.) Each week I'll pick up a basket of fresh-from-the-fields goodness.

Friday evening I stopped by for my first box of produce. Like a kid with a Christmas gift, I slipped open the top and pulled out fresh onions, garlic, peas, lettuce, broccoli, kale and strawberries.

Later that night, I made chicken soup with some of the veggies. And slow-roasted the kale with a little sea salt, pepper and olive oil.

This morning I had some of the freshly hulled strawberries on the last of my homemade farmers cheese. Lunch will be a tomato sandwich on toasted bread.

Full disclosure forces me to confess there was also another carton of eggs in my CSA box. And I still have an extra quart of milk in the fridge. So, yes, there was homemade ice cream after dinner Saturday. No doubt.

Today I'll make Everson some meringues with the leftover egg whites. I'll drop them by her office Monday. In case she is missing a sweet treat. Because it's all about balance. Or so they keep telling me.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email

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