Local Food for the Local Eater: Medford Food Co-op Opens The Café
It takes a village to raise a café and that’s exactly what’s taken place at the Medford Food Co-op with the opening of their new venue, The Café.
“It’s be a very eclectic mix of different flavors, culturally, all from scratch and we’re featuring as much local and organic foods as possible,” says chef and café manager, Christopher Bradbeer. Seven days a week customers can enjoy sandwiches, wraps and weekly specials or hot soup and salad from the deli bar and relax in the bright, 30-seat café, or simply grab something on the run, as all of the items will be available to-go. A 20-25 seat patio will be available in the spring.
Though the variety of local market produce decreases after the summer peak the restaurant will aim to cast local winter and fall abundant crops in recipes. “We’ll try to dial in our menus to focus on what’s available in the inner Rogue Valley when it’s at the peak of the season,” Bradbeer says.
The Café is featuring meals that use fresh, organic products such as Rumiano cheeses from Crescent City, grass-fed beef from Cascade Farms in Klamath Falls and artisan breads from local bakeries, Rise Up in Applegate and Apple Cellars in Medford. Whistling Duck in Grants Pass, Blue Fox Farms in Applegate Valley and Fry Family Farm in Talent are some of the local produce farms that the co-op works with. Products are considered “local” if they are available within a 100 mile range and “regional” within 250 miles, according to Bradbeer.
“Based on feedback from owner surveys, they’re invested in the co-op because they have a strong desire to support local farmers and food producers as well as have access to healthy foods,” says Halle Riddlebarger, marketing manager. From the 3400 households invested in the co-op to the over one hundred food and product suppliers, the growth from storefront to eatery is proof there’s a strong call from the health conscious community for a place to buy and dine on local, fresh and organic food while supporting a community owned establishment. “It’s a sustainable and growing business that provides economic, environmental and social benefits for the Rogue Valley.”
With his background as a chef, Bradbeer is creating all the menus and the recipes and doing much of the production cooking. “The price range is $9 – $13 for an individual meal,” he says, with larger size family meals and to-go items priced accordingly. “We also have a deli case with more to-go options and will be developing a catering menu as we progress.”
The Co-op’s future plans include nutrition and health education and expanding availability to the public. “We want to make local, organic food readily available to all residents of the Rogue Valley, and build a strong community donation/grant program to encourage and promote businesses and organizations with compatible goals and ends,” says Riddlebarger. Shares in the business are available to anyone and cost $100.
They received the Sustainability Star Award by the National Co+op Grocers for working to avoid food waste and for the weekly support of items, including produce, eggs and dairy, to the Main Ingredient Community Restaurant operated by the Medford Gospel Mission. The Co-op pro-actively works to reduce waste, support local food missions and contribute funds and in-kind donations to local non-profits including CASA of Jackson County, ACCESS, and the Rogue Valley Pollinator Project. “To help define our overall footprint we started a program to measure and improve our environmental impact on the community,” Riddlebarger shares. “Last year alone, we eliminated 2,210 pounds of paper through reduction measures; recycled 15,000 pounds of debris; composted 17,500 pounds of food waste; and donated 29,750 pounds of wholesome, nutritious food.”
The Café at The Medford Food Co-op
8 am – 8 pm, daily
945 S. Riverside Avenue, Medford