Where to find Portland's sustainable food leaders

Megan Stein

Megan Stein is the BEST Awards and Sustainability at Work Program Manager for the City of Portland's Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.

Pride in local food and farms has become so widespread in Portland restaurants that it's both praised in national publications and spoofed by Portlandia. But restaurants aren't the only businesses working to improve the sustainability of our local food system. The caterers and food producers applying in the Sustainable Food Systems category of the 2012 Businesses for an Environmentally Sustainable Tomorrow — or BEST — Awards demonstrate how they're making their own impacts.

The BEST Awards are presented annually by Sustainability at Work, a program of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. The awards recognize companies that exemplify ambitious and creative solutions for sustainability while promoting social, economic and environmental equity for the Portland area.

In late 2009, NatureBake began a project to bake a loaf of bread with ingredients sourced from within 100 miles of their bakery. Debuting in 2010, the Oregon Grains bread has 95 percent of its ingredients sourced from within 100 miles.

As a direct result of NatureBake's relationship with Willamette Seed and Grain, NatureBake has helped farmers convert 500 acres of grass seed land to organic food crop land, and hopes to convert an additional 1,500 acres over the next few years. The direct sale partnership between NaureBake and farmers provides farmers a stable price, reducing their exposure to fluctuating commodity wheat pricing.

The farmers who supply the ingredients for Oregon Grains have a host of sustainable practices that will have a significant long term impact on their land, such as hand weeding, intelligent crop rotations, and selectively applying local organic fertilizers.

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