Monday, April 25, 2011

{Giveaway} Local Portland Lulu Wraps: A Sustainable Alternative to Single Use Bags

Giveaway entries accepted through midnight, Sunday, May 8th, 2011.

We're doing a little something different at Sustainable Food for Thought today:
an introduction to a sweet friend of mine, a giveaway from her local Portland company, Lulu Wraps, and a peek at her springtime lunch menu, highlighting some of Oregon's finest produce.

The trouble? Ever-growing numbers of paper goods and plastic bags and price tags dangling off disposable products.

The fix? Finding reusable solutions and fostering a mindset that treasures the gifts we've been given.

Portland sisters Deb & Annie Abele share a passion for thoughtful living, sustainable food, and keen eye for design. Deb and I met several years ago as co-workers at a Portland landscape architecture firm. When we recently met for lunch, and I learned about her new endeavors, and I asked her to share a bit about Lulu Wraps and her company's elegant solution to disposable plastic bags, gift wrap, and grocery sacks.

Annie {L} & Deb {R}

What inspired you to launch Lulu Wraps?
Where do you source your fabrics and materials, and how do Lulu Wraps contribute to Sustainable Living in the Pacific Northwest?

My sister, Annie Abele, and I had been looking for a new, creative and planet-friendly business venture. We had long been fascinated by examples of fabric wraps from around the world.
Because we're sisters and were diy from childhood, maybe a gift from our Oregon pioneer ancestors, we both love making things, sewing and otherwise. Our families save and treasure the same worn pieces of gift wrap, slightly smaller with every use, and making the leap to designing fabric gift wrap that is a endlessly reusable was natural to us.

From the original gift wrap concept, we've added lunch wraps, both more washable and collapsible than a lunch box. And of course, more sustainable than a paper or plastic sack. The cloth lunch wrap can neatly gather up sandwiches, fruit, bento boxes, take-out cartons, or whatever. Once empty, you can fold them and slip them into a pocket. When open, they make a nice clean placemat. They can be washed if need be, and used over and over again.
We live on the same NE Portland block now, with gardens connected through a gate, but Annie has lived in Portland, Providence, Indiana, Holland, Michigan and San Francisco, and I've lived in Portland, Ithaca and San Francisco. She's a graphic designer and I'm a garden designer. We continuously cook, read, garden and sew, along with other creative endeavors.

The wraps are all limited editions. Most of them are very simple, just hemmed. We sometimes use contrast linings, and the lunch wraps have water-resistant linings. Our own embroidered and hand-printed wraps are in the works.

Our fabrics come from a variety of sources, including vintage saris bought from India over the internet, fashion fabrics in wide variety, organic cottons and hemps, and locally sourced recycled water-resistant polyester lining.

Our wraps are just coming out in local stores now; at the moment, they are available exclusively on our website.

{ Lulu Wrap Giveaway }

Giveaway #1: Red Wolf

Giveaway #2: Sylvie

Visitors to Sustainable Food for Thought are invited to leave a comment below to be entered in the giveaway for one of t
wo 26" x 26" cotton lunch wraps lined with recycled water-resistant nylon. Both come with easy tying instructions and a matching cotton napkin.

Two winners will be chosen via and will receive a limited edition Lulu Wrap shipped directly to their home. Entries accepted through Sunday, May 8th, 2011.

Winners to be chosen and announced on the site on Monday, May 9th.

If you'd like to be notified directly if you're the winner, please include your email address in your comment {i.e., sustainablefoodforthought (at) gmail (dot) com}

No extra steps: no Facebook Likes or Twitter Follows. Though if you'd like to take a peek at the Lulu Wraps "How to Use" page, you're welcome to leave a second entry stating how you would use your own Lulu Wrap to replace disposable products in your daily life.

A Packable Springtime Lunch from Deb
In honor of both our rainy Portland spring, and Sustainable Food For Thought, we've come up with a (nearly) all local lunch, with photos and recipes. Nearly all the vegetables are from our bounteous, wonderful CSA - Pumpkin Ridge Gardens, in North Plains. The greens were so ridiculously plentiful this week, and our hens are laying to beat the band, so the focus of the lunch was easy!
The menu:
Egg salad sandwich
Spring rolls with chutney sauce
Slice of cake (because it's Toby's birthday today!)

~ Egg Salad Sandwich ~

  • Two chopped hard boiled eggs (from our back yard flock),
  • several radishes, coarsely chopped up,
  • Hot peppers preserved in vinegar from the end of last summer (just use a pepper or two, cut up),
  • a heaping tablespoon of chopped It's Linda's bread and butter pickles from Lopez Island,
  • dijon, brown or yellow mustard,
  • Salish alder smoked sea salt (from Woodinville, Washington),
  • Plenty of black pepper,
  • Two slices of Grand Central's Como bread.
  • Stir eggs, vegetables and seasoning together, spread on the bread. You won't need any mayo - it's moist, spicy and slightly sweet.
~ Spring Rolls with Chutney Sauce ~

For three spring rolls:
  • Six or so large leaves of any sturdy greens (we used turnip greens),
  • One carrot, julienned,
  • Half of a cucumber, julienned (this did come from the store),
  • Several hot peppers, preserved in vinegar from last summer and kept in refrigerator (sliver the peppers),
  • six or more radish thinnings,
  • green onions or onion thinnings,
  • (add/substitute any available spring vegetables that strike your fancy),
  • Salish alder smoked sea salt,
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste,
  • Lay washed large leaves overlapping somewhat on work surface in groups of three or so.
  • Scatter vegetables across the mid section of each group of leaves,
  • Pressing the ribs a bit to flatten, roll snugly.
  • Repeat for all three.

For the dipping sauce:
  • Two or three tablespoons of Ginger Peach chutney (I make this most summers - use any peach chutney recipe and add lots of slivered fresh ginger.)
  • Juice of half a lime
  • (chili flakes or hot sauce if you like)
  • Stir to blend.


Many thanks to Deb and Annie and all the best to them as they continue crafting beautiful, sustainable alternatives to disposable packaging.

Again, to enter the reusable fabric wrap giveaway, leave a comment below and include your email address. I'm sure the gals at Lulu Wrap would love to hear from readers around the country!


Lastly, through the month of May, Sustainable Food for Thought readers may use the coupon code "NWLUNCH" at the Lulu Wraps checkout to receive free shipping and 25% off on their order.

[Full disclosure: There is no business transaction associated with this Sustainable Food for Thought post; we're just Portland gals who like supporting other Portland gals. It's all about sharing resources and spreading inspiration... Enjoy!]

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Spring 2011 Portland Handcrafted Food Swap: May 7th at Abby's Table

Announcing our Springtime 2011 Portland Hand Crafted Food Swap!
Hosted by Sustainable Food for Thought at Abby's Table in SE Portland

Congratulations, friends! In the wake of our December, 2010 PDX Food Swap, Cooking Up a Story released a mini documentary about our event, and that coverage along with mentions in the Huffington Post, New York Times, food magazines, blogs, and other news sources has continued to inspire the swelling interest in Food Swaps around the country (check out the ever-growing list at Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking).

To RSVP for our May 7th Swap, read below and send us an email. There are only 45 swapping spaces open, so reply early to claim your spot...

Invite Friends & Spread the Word:
@pdxswappers | #pdxfoodswap | PDX Swappers Facebook Page

After putting up, whipping up, drying, canning, soaking, mixing, stacking, sorting, and setting aside, come celebrate by bringing your favorite creations to swap with fellow Portland foodies.

A Food Swap is part silent auction/part village marketplace/part fun-loving open house where your homemade creations (breads, preserves, special concoctions, canned goods, etc.) become your own personal currency for use in swapping with other participants. What better way to diversify your pantry and rub shoulders with friend and neighbors?

When: Saturday, May 7th, 2011, 7pm-9pm

Where: Abby's Table, 609 SE Ankeny Street, Portland, OR 97214

Bring an assortment of your homemade edible specialties to exchange for other handcrafted delights. Sustainable Food For Thought will provide swapping cards, name tags, and organization for the event. You will be given the opportunity to offer trades in a silent-auction type format, and you will be free to choose which trades to accept for your products. Bring as much or as little as you like; there are no caps or minimums.

Pacific Northwesterners {aka the Willamette Valley, the Portland Metro Area, and our Neighbors to the North}. Please note, we are unable to provide childcare for this event.

Swap participants will be given free entry; a donation jar will be available to help cover the cost of supplies.


a) RSVP to
Please provide your name, contact info, and potential items you plan to trade. Due to limited space, we are capping the number of swappers at 45 and will keep a waiting list after that, so register early!

b) On Saturday the 7th, please bring your hand crafted goods + a contribution to the appetizer potluck.

c) Simple as that! We’re so excited to meet one another and celebrate the bounty of the seasons and the fruits of our labor~

{A Very Kind Thank-You}
To the following inspirations and collaborators:

Kate Payne at The Hip Girls Guide to Homemaking

Hip Girls Guide to Homemaking | @hipgirls | Facebook
Check out the directory of fabulous swaps popping up around the world, grown from the original inspiration of #BKSwappers in Brooklyn, NY!

Abby's Table
Abby's Table | @AbbysTable | Facebook

{Looking Forward to Seeing You There!}
If you have additional questions, please be in touch with Emily or Bethany

Mini PDX Food Swap Documentary }

Want to receive updates on future swaps?
Like the PDX Swappers Facebook Page

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.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...