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Wilsonville High School sophomore Keaton Whittaker discusses the importance of his favorite food

I love ice cream. I'd eat ice cream every day if I could, but I know that's not physically or economically sustainable. A big bowl of ice cream is my favorite way to unwind from a long week, and going out to get ice cream with friends has become sort of tradition of mine.

Given my enthusiasm about ice cream, I'm very selective about the brand. For a while I was content with store bought ice cream and Tillamook dairy products. That was until I discovered my two favorite local ice cream companies: Jr. Scoop Ice Cream from Wood Middle School, and Salt & Straw Ice Cream in downtown Portland. Keaton Whittaker

Jr. Scoop is an up-and-coming ice cream business started six years ago by Jordan Scoggins, the wellness teacher at Wood Middle School. The business is conducted primarily by sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders who help design unique flavors, work to distribute ice cream orders to monthly subscribers, and market the ice cream around town. Some of these middle schoolers were ambitious enough to earn food handlers licenses so that they could bring an ice cream cart around to local events to give the public a sample taste of their creamy concoctions.

One of the most popular flavors produced by Jr. Scoop is called "Dirt." Dirt ice cream is much more enticing then the name implies because it is made with Ghirardelli milk chocolate, crumbled brownies, and a salted caramel swirl. In my house, Dirt doesn't last long because we devour Dirt directly out of the carton.

Jr. Scoop is an amazing operation in Wilsonville, and if I ever crave ice cream at home I just have to hope that there's some Jr. Scoop left in our freezer. But when I decide that I want to go out to get ice cream with friends, my hands-down favorite ice cream parlor is Salt & Straw in Portland. With crazy and whimsical flavors like "Pear & Blue Cheese" or "Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper," it has the potential to be a little overwhelming, but for the most part it's a wild tasting experience. It's easy to shy away from such bold and adventurous flavors, but once you have a taste you can't stop coming back for more.

Just like Jr. Scoop, Salt & Straw also has a rotation of monthly flavors. For example, their May flavors included a "Rhubarb Crumble with Toast Anise" and an adventurous "Green Apply & Wasabi Flowers Sorbet." (Speaking from experience, the wasabi flower sorbet is surprisingly delectable).

My other favorite part of Salt & Straw is the trip up to Portland. Some might say that ice cream isn't worth a 30-minute car ride, but they're wrong. It's about more than just the ice cream. It's about exploring Portland, being with friends, and seeing new sights. Maybe it's the feeling of independence that comes with driving up to Portland, or maybe it's just my amazing friends, but I have a lot of great memories connected to trips to Salt & Straw.

Although the Portland weather has been fairly chilly this spring, I hope summer skies will bring with them scoops of ice cream, either from Jr. Scoop, Salt & Straw, or any other ice cream parlor of your choosing.

Keaton Whittaker is a senior at Wilsonville High School.

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