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Since 1958, Oregon has had a cool program honoring families who have operated their farms or ranches for over 100 years. The Century Farm & Ranch Program seeks to recognize the spirit of the agrarian ideal that led many settlers to come to the state in the first place. Now, more than 1,075 families have been awarded the Century Farm or Century Ranch status.
Baker County Tourism CC BY-ND
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We would be seriously remiss to discuss Oregon's food scene without mentioning craft beer. Before the craft beer industry exploded to its current dizzyingly diverse and dynamic state, Oregon was an oasis of groundbreaking small breweries in a sea of multi-national crappy pilsner. Breweries like Rogue Ales (est. 1988), Deschutes (est. 1988), and Widmer (est. 1984) paved the way for other independently-owned breweries, some of which are actually pretty decent places to eat, too (some are … way better at brewing).
Doug Kerr CC BY-SA
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Let's give the Central and Eastern hunks of the state a little love, shall we? Cattle ranching produces more commodities annually in Oregon than all of those hazelnuts and pears combined. In 1984, a group of Oregon ranchers came together to form Oregon Country Beef as a way to market their beef, plus to set standards for land stewardship and human handling practices.
Loren Kerns CC BY
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Ahh, the long-loved vacation tradition of taking in a factory tour. The Tillamook Cheese factory in – where else? – Tillamook offers a self-guided tour where you can peek at milk from cows in the Tillamook cooperative being processed into cheese. Since this free tour is a popular stop for families heading out the Oregon Coast through scenic Tillamook County, it can get beyond packed on the weekends. No worries! You can't swing a cat in Oregon without bumping into Tillamook Cheese, whether it's at the grocery store or on top of a Burgerville Tillamook Cheeseburger (it's an upgrade from the standard cheeseburger at this regional fast food chain).
Heather Harvey CC BY-SA
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Salmon is a big deal in Oregon, in both culinary and ecological terms. One of the best places to learn about salmon in a short visit its the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River, where they put in a "fish ladder", or a structure that lets migrating fish safely pass around the dam so they can continue their life cycle. At the visitors center, spy into a series of windows where you can see the fish navigating the fish ladder. Plus they have an informative display of various salmon species both there and down the road at the Bonneville Hatchery, where they raise chinook and coho salmon to release in the river. Oregon's salmon population has rebounded with better management, and the economic boon of recreational and commercial fishing played no small part in this. But since wild salmon nourishes so many other forms of wildlife, too, the biodiversity and natural beauty of Oregon's rivers and coastal areas are dependent on the continuing health of salmon.
Northwest Power and Conservation Council CC BY
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In the damp and forested Western areas of the state, mushrooming is plentiful and rewarding. Just ask the Oregon Mycological Society (their newsletter is called MushRumors), members of other mushrooming clubs, or enthusiasts who own tattered copies of All That The Rain Promises and More. The beachy tourist hot spot Lincoln City hosts an annual Wild Mushroom Cook-Off in November, where chefs serve up samples of their dishes to judges and the public. Meanwhile, festivals in Eugene and Yachats bring the mushrooms (plus fellowship and education) to the people.
Dietrich Ayala CC BY