Do you know where your food comes from?
In the TV show Portlandia, there is a skit about a couple who relentlessly try to find out the details of where their food came from. And were those chickens happy? As ridiculous as this skit is, the idea is not too far off from reality for many Portlanders. Actually, there is a thread of truth to just about ever wacky Portlandia skit, but this one is certainly a beloved favorite.
Many Portlanders truly care about the origin of their foods. Fortunately for us, there are ample sources for local food, making it relatively easy to track where our food comes from when we eat locally sourced foods.
Finding Local Foods at the Portland Farmers Markets
The Farmers Markets of Portland are an excellent option for finding the freshest, most regional food options. Though people often think of produce when they think of a farmers market, most markets offer a whole lot more than simply fruits and vegetables.
At many area markets, you’ll find free-range meats and sustainably caught fish. There is usually at least one baker offering gorgeous loaves of freshly baked bread and tantalizing pastries (we dare you to say no!). You may also find locally made hummus, hot sauces, jams, cooked food vendors and so much more. Perhaps it’s best to go to the market hungry so you can enjoy it all!
In Portland, there are nearly 50 farmers markets with one every day of the week except Mondays, in all parts of town. The Portland Farmers Market has a comprehensive list of all the markets in the region, including the many they operate. Explore them all on the Portland Farmers Market website.
Summertime is the best time to visit the market when everything is in abundance, but many market vendors get creative with the shoulder seasons and offer interesting spring and fall items as well.
Buying Local Produce in Portland
Many grocery stores in our region stock local produce other items. Sometimes these areas of the store are marked as the “Local Produce” section.
Stores like New Seasons and some of the smaller markets like Cherry Spout in North Portland specialize in stocking local foods of all types. These dedicated stores are your best option for finding the freshest, most thoughtfully curated local offerings. Sometimes they will even have a purveyor sampling their specialty, which can be quite a treat!
Even if you know a national brand well, don’t be shy about trying the local version. You just might be surprised what you’ll find by looking for the local food options in Portland.
Farm to Table Dining in Portland
Our proximity to sources of fresh produce long ago gave rise to a farm to table movement in the Portland restaurant scene. It’s not unusual for chefs to visit the same farmers markets you do, and search for what’s freshest to add to that day’s menu. Some of them also work with brokers to source unique local food items, and many have deep relationships with their purveyors who are growing the produce and tending the livestock.
This style of eating is so well established in Portland that you can find farm fresh options at a plethora of restaurants, from fast food places like Laughing Planet, Primal Burger and Dick’s Kitchen to the best high end restaurants and everything in between. Even Burgerville, the McDonalds alternative, prides itself on serving seasonally relevant options sourced locally, like Walla Walla onion rings and marionberry shakes.
THAT is how deeply ingrained in our culture is the concept of eating locally sourced foods!