Showing posts with label food buying clubs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food buying clubs. Show all posts

Thursday, May 30, 2013

What Life Looks Like This Spring...

Hugs and a happy, happy springtime to you, wherever in the world you are! It's been many sunrises and sunsets since I've shared updates in this here's a quick peek into recent months:

Oregon sunshine and lunch in the field...

These days, life escapes the computer.

On-the-ground, in-the-kitchen, are only sometimes snapped.

Mental scribbles for future posts get sticky-noted to the sidewalls of my brain...and they grow a little old, a little dusty, then the adhesive gives out and the imaginary yellow squares flutter away...

So it is, home from the great world beyond.

Learning how to settle again.

Learning how to grow a new life, in more ways than one


After five months spent sharing life and meals and kitchen duties with my family in the rural countryside (waking to views of agricultural fields spread wide beneath Mount Hood), Ted and I found a home back in our favorite Portland neighborhood (Montavilla!), and just a week and a half ago, we regained possession of our first permanent address in 18 months.

Home, sweet home.

This also means: first permanent kitchen in a year and a half!

We're unpacking bins and boxes. Pulling out the cookware that hasn't seen daylight since Thanksgiving of 2011...

I'm reassembling staples: flours, beans, those little bulk bags of ground cumin and turmeric and paprika... (Of course I was giddy when Marissa from Food in Jars invited me to pin on her new Herb & Spice Storage board; I've got serious kitchen nesting to do and I need all the inspiration I can get.)

I'm all ears, following developments of the Montavilla Food Co-op and getting ready to jump back into the Montavilla Food Buying Club.

Lindsay (from the lovely and I have been working on a new series of PDX Food Swaps and hope to have a new site and set of resources rolled out soon...

Vestal Community Garden Plot

I'm grateful to be once again tending my Vestal Community Garden plot.

Many thanks to my friend Allison for taking the helm during 2012 and returning the plot to me with even better soil and even bigger herbs! Just last month, kiddos from the school came out and harvested volunteer raspberries that hopped the path and sprung up in my territory... The little patch of land keeps giving and giving.

Pregnant with Baby Oregonian!

New home, new kitchen, new little life squirming and dancing in my belly.
 Same garden, same city, same love for all things local and nourishing.
Balancing online and offline living...

If you're in Portland, come say hello at the next Food Swap...or maaaybe the next Food Group? Who knows? With a new living room, I may just be able to open my doors and invite you over to my place sometime soon :)


A note: My cousin Charlotte at Champoeg Creamery is hosting a terrific Farm Camp this summer for 6-12 year olds who are ready to spend a week learning about the honest-to-goodness roots of real food.

If your kiddos are interested in milking cows, making cheese and ice cream, learning about raising turkeys and chickens and gathering eggs, getting their hands dirty planting plants in Oregon soil, quizzing bees, and learning to brush, saddle, lead, and ride horses, then visit Charlotte's blog for details:

**As of 5/28/2013, there are only three spots left for the July 15-18 session.**

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Back to the Start: Graphic Art in the Food Revolution

As a landscape architect, I value the usefulness of wordless graphics to convey a message.

The complexities of our modern food systems boggle the mind, and reading story after essay after published journal article sometimes overwhelms and leaves me grasping for straightforward explanations to share with friends and family.

This simple animation reminds us all of the need for reinvention and revolution in the standards of practice for food and farming.


From YouTube: Coldplay's haunting classic 'The Scientist' is performed by country music legend Willie Nelson for the soundtrack of the short film entitled, "Back to the Start." The film, by film-maker Johnny Kelly, depicts the life of a farmer as he slowly turns his family farm into an industrial animal factory before seeing the errors of his ways and opting for a more sustainable future. Both the film and the soundtrack were commissioned by Chipotle to emphasize the importance of developing a sustainable food system.
Thanks to Kate, at Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking, for pointing me toward this clip! And a sincere thank you to the farmers, companies, co-ops, and individuals dedicated to returning back to the start.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April Food Group Recap: Buying in Bulk

Our Sustainable Food for Thought comrades met together for April's Food Group, and Emily led a helpful overview on Buying in Bulk, focusing in particular on Azure Standard, a bulk buying resource based out of Dufur, Oregon.

For those friends who weren't able to join in person, please find tidbits and thoughts from the evening shared below:

{Welcome & Announcements}

Our second PDX Food Swap is on the horizon (details here)
May's Food Group: Herbal Tea Workshop (details here ~ postponed)
Next Azure Standard Drop (to be determined ~ be in touch if you're interested in participating)

{Topic for the Night}

As with many methods of household and kitchen management, bulk buying offers a broad spectrum of options. Before becoming overwhelmed at the possibilities (and disenchanted with the effort), or dismissing the idea that it's also quite possible to start (and stay?) small, we spent the evening discussing our experiences and sharing ideas.

[For those not familiar with Azure Standard, Emily History and Mission of the company.]


Is Azure Standard Right for You?

What are your household's needs? Cost savings? Online shopping? Access to natural foods?

What are you looking for in a bulk buying experience? A way to eliminate going to the grocery store altogether? A source for staples to be supplemented by trips to the market? A source for a few particular items?

How frequently do you anticipate ordering?

Different households carry different needs and different rhythms of food purchase and preparation. There is no one-size fits all approach. Listening for others' experiences proves a good starting point, but only you can decide what may integrate well with your family's lifestyle.

Setting up an Azure Account and Navigating the Website

Anyone can visit the site, but only once you've created a login can you view prices, place orders, and save favorite items. Many people shared their experiences with the website: it can occasionally be tedious (especially when "browsing" randomly or sorting through sale items). Generally, though, it's worth the effort, and often times getting your hands on a hard copy of the catalogs can be a helpful time saver (especially when you're just getting to familiarize yourself with what they carry).

What to Buy and What to Avoid

Based entirely on first hand experience and preference and the chimed-in notes from the group:

Azure's a great resource for buying:
  • Dried beans and legumes
  • Grains
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Dried fruit
  • Natural sweeteners such as molasses and Rapadura
  • Organic produce*
  • Mozzerella
  • Raw cheeses
  • Glass storage jars**
  • Homeopathic remedies
(*hit or miss, depending on the season; **beware the woes of separately-ordered-lids!)

Less preferred items:
  • Canned beans
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Pasta
  • Most bread products
  • Ricotta, Parmesan and cottage cheese
  • Packaged/processed foods
  • Organic produce*
  • Condiments
  • Dishwasher detergent
(*hit or miss, depending on the season)

Rule of thumb for the greatest cost savings: Buy staples and avoid packaged/processed foods.

General Tips
  • Know what you like to cook and what your family eats
  • Make a list before browsing Azure's website
  • Don't buy it if you won't eat it
  • Comparison shop
Storage Tips

The biggest food spoilage culprits: temperature, humidity, and oxygen.
  • Nuts, seeds, and cut grains can go rancid quickly. If you buy these in bulk, divide them into smaller portions and keep them in your freezer.
  • If you use large quantities of a certain whole grain, bean or legume, keep a smaller supply in accessible glass jars on your shelf and store the rest in food grade waterproof buckets.
  • Azure sells Gamma Seal lids that fit five gallon buckets to convert them into waterproof/airtight food storage containers. (These buckets and lids are also available locally at the Portland Preparedness Center on NE Glisan & 72nd)

{Other Bulk Buying Resources}

Search for Food Buying Clubs and Co-ops in your area for more opportunities to save on bulk purchases. The Montavilla Food Buying Club is an excellent resource, as is the Portland Eastside Buying Club (see below) spearheaded by Chris Musser of Lost Arts Kitchen. Bulk purchases can save you money and give you access to such high quality goods as pastured butter, natural maple syrup, wild caught Alaskan salmon, grass fed beef, and group orders from Frontier and Hummingbird Wholesale.

Simply in Harmony, Hillsboro, OR
This drop is a distributor for Azure, which means customers place their order with the coordinator, she places one large order with Azure, pays for it, sorts it, then calls customers to pick up their orders at their convenience. Customers pay her directly at pick up. Open to new members:

Farm to Family, Beaverton, OR
Azure Standard and Noris Creamery deliveries. Frontier and OGC coming soon. New members welcome:

North Portland Food Buying Club

Know Thy Food

Portland Eastside Buying Club
Azure Standard drop, monthly. Bulk meat and retail cut buying club: Deck Family Farm. Chicken from Deo Volente Farm. Produce during growing season: Thompson Farms, Hanson Farm. Whole Oregon albacore tuna in late summer/early fall. Open to new members.

Additional Recommendations from Food Group members:

Harmony Jack Farms, Scio, OR

Barefoot Farm & Flowers,
Clatskanie, Oregon

Full of Life Farm, St. Paul, OR
Owned and operated by Bernard Smith, brother of Charlotte Smith of Champoeg Creamery

Pure Life Farm, Molalla, OR
Run by Bethany's friend, Brenda, of The Wellfed Homestead

{Final Thoughts}

Bulk buying may not be the best choice for you right now. (What?!) And if that's the case, then give yourself a pat on the back for recognizing that fact and making a sane choice for your family.

Sustainable living isn't about keeping up with appearances or copying someone else, it's about finding what honestly works with your checkbook, kitchen sink, dining table, and family dynamic. It's about nurturing your loved ones and serving your neighbors with a grateful and generous heart, and stewarding resources in the way in which you are deeply called.

If bulk buying is something you're looking forward to testing out, or if it's something you've been practicing for many years with great success, please continue to share your thoughts and be encouraged by others' stories.

To give you a peek into a future post about my Food Life Calendar, you can check the image below and see that in my home, for example, bulk buying falls into the "Quarterly" category.

I'd love to know your best stories of buying in bulk and any favorite area resources. Please feel free to share here, or bring your experience to contribute to our next Food Group.

As always, it's a pleasure to learn alongside you dear friends.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sweets from Trees: Naturally Harvested Organic Maple Syrup

In the Northwest, mouthwatering berries {and sunshine!} haven't yet emerged to cheer our plates and hearts, and February's glut of Valentine's chocolate is kindly in the past...but take heart ~ now's just the time for sweetness that comes from humble trees.

"The season of sugar-making came when the first crow appeared. This happened about the beginning or middle of March, while there was yet snow on the ground. This period of the season was looked forward to with great interest, and, as among the Minnesota Ojibwa today, became a holiday for everybody. Each female head of a household had her own sugar hut, built in a locality abounding in maple trees which might or might not have been convenient to her camp, but which was the place always resorted to by her, and claimed by right of decent through her mother's family and totem."
~ A European American's observation from 1896
As referenced in Jessica Prentice's delightful book, Full Moon Feast.
See her Sap Moon chapter for 13 traditional, unrefined sources of sweetness.


I took a vicarious field trip last weekend, when a good friend living in Boston told me over the phone about her adventures "sugaring" in Vermont. She recently drove north for a regional festival where small farms, producing anywhere from handfuls to hundreds of gallons, displayed their wares and offered delicious samples of maply-goodness.

Her stories reminded me that those small scale production operations can be a true labor of love.

The trees are tapped

They bleed their sap

And a diligent farmer must tend a boiling vat,
until the water evaporates to leave a golden syrup

For any of you in the Portland area interested in cooking with this high quality sweetener, Chris at Lost Arts Kitchen has made arrangements for sourcing "Certified organic maple syrup from Michigan and Wisconsin. Amish made, using horse power for collection and wood fire for the evaporation process."

The syrup will be available for pickup in NE Portland in early April; orders & payment due by the end of the month.

In the meantime, you may also enjoy this post that speaks to seasonal eating and sweetener choices: A Celebration Every Day: Sap Moon

Hope to see you at April's Food Group, where we'll be chatting about bulk buying (like...stocking up on syrup when it's in season?) and exchanging kitchen stories from the past month...


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

April's Food Group: Azure Standard and Buying in Bulk

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase "buying in bulk"? Perhaps you think of the bins at your local grocery store. Maybe the packs of GA-zillions of rolls of toilet paper from Costco come to mind. Or perhaps, the packages of ramen noodles leftover from Y2K. Well, toss your old ramen and your pre-conceived notions about bulk buying out the window because we are hosting a practical and resourceful Food Group devoted to buying in bulk!

Our discussion will center around Azure Standard, as it is our main source for buying and splitting bulk pantry staples, but we will cover a variety of local bulk buying opportunities for your benefit. Since becoming a drop point for Azure Standard in October, many of you have expressed interest in participating but don't know where to begin. We are passionate about like-minded people pulling resources together to help one another save money on healthy food. With this in mind, we decided to devote an entire Food Group to the how's, why's and where's of buying in bulk.

{Allison and Bethany with some Azure goodies, hot off the semi truck}

Discussion will include:

  • Setting up an Azure account
  • Navigating the Azure website
  • Tips on what to buy and how to store it
  • Seasonal planning and budgeting for buying in bulk
  • Resources for a variety of group buying opportunities
Whether you are interested in buying in bulk but don't know where to start, or you have years of experience to contribute and are looking for a few new resources, we'd love to have you join April's Food Group.

Wednesday, April 6th, 7:00 p.m.
Emily's Home, 78th and Burnside, PDX

Food Group is FREE, so bring a snack, bring a friend and join us for an evening of conversation and food camaraderie!

~Emily and Bethany

Friday, October 8, 2010

First Azure Standard Drop!

Food Group's first Azure Standard drop was successful! Six food group members placed orders and Bethany and Allison helped unload the semi truck on delivery day.

We are hoping to place orders once a month depending on interest since drop minimums must add up to $550. If you are interested in joining our drop site, please email me for details and requirements.

It was pretty fun having a semi truck come down our little street with a delivery just for us!

Here's to having great food delivered to your doorstep!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Local Food: Equity in Actions & Truth

Last weekend, Ted and I attended a Community Food Forum. A small online notice caught my eye a while back. I posted it to the Sustainable Food for Thought Facebook page (mostly as a more-reliable-than-a-bookmark reminder to myself) and was grateful to be able to participate in the Saturday morning event.

Individuals from local non-profits and churches, the Montavilla, Lents, Cully, and Parkrose Farmers Markets, the Multnomah County Chair's office, and the community at large filed in to the meeting held at a neighborhood church just a handful of blocks from our home. The discussion revolved around equity of access to healthy food for for east Portlanders, in particular, our disenfranchised and low income neighbors in Montavilla.

As Ted and I have been seeking to engage and build camaraderie with the under resourced members of our community, the event's conversations were timely.

Kyle Curtis, the Associate Manager of the Montavilla Farmer's Market, opened the morning asking, "How can we make healthy food more accessible and affordable in east Portland?"

We were asked to consider:

What kind of food system do we want, and how can we encourage it through policies, programs, and partnerships?

How do we ensure equity in the new food systems we create?

Can small farmers make a decent wage selling affordably priced food to low-income customers without subsidies?
And he shared with us a number of telling maps from the Portland Plan from the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, showing recent inventories of neighborhood access to grocery stores, community gardens, Oregon Food Bank food assistance programs, fast food establishments, and changes in food stamp usage over the past few years.

Karol Collymore of county chair Jeff Cogen's office shared about the health disparities related to the way we currently offer the "least of what we have" (i.e., packaged, processed, nutrient-void foods from corner markets, gas stations, and the like) to many or our resource-isolated areas. She raised questions of of how to incentivise healthy business development in neighborhoods where current economic viability is questionable. She spoke of New Seasons' practice of locating grocery stores in areas of high college education rates and the trouble of under resourced areas remaining so in the face of improvements in more affluent areas of town. She shared about the Multnomah Food Initiative and gave avenues to educate ourselves and become a part of the dialog.

Did you know that if you spot a vacant plot of land within the urban areas, there are mechanisms in place to work with the county to do a tax and title search and then transform that space into a spot for growing healthy food? Check out Groundwork Portland and Janus Youth Programs' urban agriculture projects.
Kyle Curtis relayed to us that the recent Montavilla Food Co-op survey taken over this past summer had a very small percentage of respondents from non-white, low-income zip codes, despite the high rates of those populations within geographic proximity to the Montavilla Farmers Market, local food buying clubs, and other neighborhood food initiatives. Clearly, there is much to be improved in the way our food system engages and supports families of diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds...

Did you know that there is a 2-3 year waiting list for the Vestal Elementary School community garden here at NE 82nd and Couch? It's discouraging to see the sky-high numbers of fast food and chain restaurants up and down 82nd and the surrounding thoroughfares...and to see the high prices at the farmers markets that can be luxuriously justified to me, but sincerely unapproachable by my dear neighbors here at Stepping Stone Apartments.

Many members of the local community shared their experiences over the past few years here in the Montavilla area. Progress is being made. Positive changes are happening. Areas for work and improvement are being identified and addressed.

Encouraging, yes.

But also a strong reminder that care and concern require hands and feet.
At the conclusion of the event, we were given additional ways to be involved. I'm happy to share them here as well, in hopes that word will continue to go out...

Volunteer at local markets - Montavilla, Cully, Lents, Parkrose (or one in your own back yard!)

Attend the various upcoming Multnomah Food Initiative Workshops (10/19 Healthy Eating, 10/28 Local Food, 11/1 Social Equity, 11/3 Economic Vitality)

Consider applying for a seat on the Portland-Multnomah Food Policy Council

Participate in local food buying clubs: Lents Grocery Co-op, Lents Food Buying Club, Lents Grocery Buying Club, Montavilla Buying Club, Portland Eastside Buying Club (or, added plug, our Sustainable Food For Thought group!)

Connect with Friends of Family Farmers

And I would add a few more ideas to the list...

~Share a meal, in your home, with your neighbors. Learn about their stories and their needs and desires. Learn about the foods that they enjoy most! Seek out opportunities to share resources that are meaningful and practical to them in their particular circumstances.
~Check with your local CSA or farm stand and ask if they have sponsorship opportunities for reduced cost subscriptions to be made available to low income participants.
~Grow a garden and share your bounty with people up and down your street.
~Eat with gratefulness, and share your best.

As Ted and I have chosen to change our habits of purchasing and consuming, and as we've conscientiously used our dollars to vote for changes in the food system, it still comes as a deeply troubling reality that so very many of our fellow Portlanders are without a voice, without the luxury of dollars to vote, and without the access to foods that promote health and nourishment.

We've not come to answers yet. Only to continued questions and invitations to conversation. I am challenged to put my blessings to revel in the goodness and bounty of the seasons and to participate in restoring the Creator's hope and vitality to the neighborhood in which we live.

Leviticus 23:22 When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the LORD your God.

Deuteronomy 14:28-29
At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year's produce and store it in your towns, so that the...the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.

Proverbs 21:13 If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.

Luke 14:13-14 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

1 John 3:17-18
If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

Join me as we learn to carry the truth and live out the calling?


Friday, August 6, 2010

Food Group Resources

Thanks so much to those of you who were able to join us for last Wednesday's Food Group. I really enjoyed catching up with so many of you, and swapping ideas. For those of you who couldn't make it, you were missed...
I mentioned that I'd pass along the following info. Hope it's helpful to some of you~

The Montavilla Food Buying Club has some great deals available right now (Yahoo Group:
- Organic Peaches $22 per 20lb. box (ordering info here) - orders due by August 10th for pickup in NE Portland on Friday the 13th
- Organic pickling cucumbers $.85/lb. (ordering info here) - weekly orders for August due by 10am Wednesday for pickup the following Sunday
The book I mentioned: Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning (read a review of it on Culinate)

Mark your calendars now ~ next Food Group is Wednesday, September 1st, 6:30-8:30pm. To receive email updates with details on locations, etc., for future Food Group meetings, please join our Google group.

Enjoy the sunshine,


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...