A Quick List: Food Vocabulary Found in Portland

As a person who has grown up in a “foodie” and eco-friendly city (Portland, OR) I hear terms regarding food frequently, like organic food and locavore. But not everyone has heard these terms before, so I have complied a small list of these terms so more people can understand what they mean. I’ve also included restaurants, markets and other places in Portland where one can find these terms and types of food.

Organic food– food that has been produced without  the use of chemicals like fertilizers and pesticides. Most people are concerned whether or not their vegetables, fruit or meat are organic. Organic food is all over Portland and can be found at places like the Portland Farmers Market.

Fast food – food that can be prepared quickly and is readily available and usually carries a negative connotation in “foodie” cities. Fast food is usually found at take out restaurants (McDonald’s) or in  the form of microwavable meals like Pizza Rolls or chili. Fast food can be found all over Portland, but do we really want to focus on fast food when there are so many restaurants that serve fresh, delicious, local food? No, no we do not.

Slow food – food that must be prepared with care and uses high-quality local ingredients. Slow food is mostly found in the family kitchen. For instance – every summer, when the tomatoes in our backyard are ripe, my mother will make tomato salads. All of the ingredients are from our garden except for the goat cheese, which she buys at farmers markets.

Local food – food that is grown, processed and sold within a certain area. Usually, local food is also seasonal because only certain food can be grown in specific regions. Finding local food is fairly easy if you know where to look. Many cities have CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), where people pay a fee to receive local and organic food from nearby farms during a season. Local food can also be found at farmers markets or at small restaurants that only serve local food. One chain restaurant in the Pacific Northwest (Oregon and  lower region of Washington) is Burgerville – a burgers and fries fast food chain that only serves local and sustainable food.

Locavore – a person who is committed to eating local food only. Usually, the local food can be found within 100 miles of his/her home. These people believe that local food is more likely to be organic and less likely to contain chemicals. They usually find their food in their own gardens, through CSAs and local markets (Portland’s locally grown market is New Seasons Market).

Sustainable Food (also known as “green” food) – food that is produced is a sustainable manner. This includes production that uses nonrenewable resources efficiently and enhances natural resources, like reducing use of water. There are multiple restaurants in Portland that only serve sustainable, local and organic food; the highest rated being Papa G’s Vegan Organic Deli.


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