The roots of Blue Bus lay on the farm and within the raw ingredients used to create their jars of fermented magic. Colin, co-owner, of Blue Bus heads the growing operation in the hills above the Columbia Gorge on a farm owned by Ben Zimmerman. It is mostly a one-man operation, as he grows an array of various veggies that are eventually bound for the fermentation tanks. Colin grows food to provide fresh ingredients for their product, not only because that is what secures the consistency of taste, but also because he sees the larger importance of growing locally and creating a sustainable end product. To really get down to the nitty-gritty though, the truth is that Colin has a hunger for being outside, and working on the farm provides a way to connect to that important value of living with the seasons.
Colin’s favorite crop on their farm is the chilies that are grown for their cultured chili paste. As the summer heats up, the peppers evolve from green to red through all the shades in between - purple, yellow, to orange. The cultured chili paste is then built from harvest to jar in the Blue Bus kitchen. It resembles a Thai chili paste that you would find in many Southeastern Asian restaurants' tables, but has an extra kick from that Pacific Northwest growing process. One jar of this splendid concoction can add pep to any daily meal.
The journey from farm to table is the real deal with Blue Bus Foods. The hands that grow the food make the food, because this is an important aspect in who they are as a small business. When you pick up a jar of kraut or chili paste or the many products in between, know that you are eating something grown under the sun and in the soil of the Columbia Gorge. There is something almost spiritual about eating when it comes to homegrown fermented foods.
You can find chili paste at the Blue Bus Shop, the Hood River Farmers' Market or select local grocers.