Paige Common, Creator of Eatin' Alive

Last year, my friend Lily and I trekked to the sustainably-minded music festival Pickathon in Happy Valley, OR. Of the many food carts crisscrossing the festival grounds, Eatin' Alive's generous servings of Thai zucchini noodles and fig bars were just the fuel that we needed for dancing through humid days (having fun is hard work!) And so, when I returned to Portland for temporary work this summer, I was excited to find that the purveyor of raw goodies had a stall at the farmers' market close to my house. Eatin' Alive peddles savory and sweet treats--spicy collard green crisps with a kick of cayenne, peanut butter love bars redolent of your favorite childhood snack-- that are not just good for you, but plain good.

Eatin' Alive took root five years ago when founder Paige, then a preschool teacher, witnessed firsthand just how many kids had food allergies and learning disabilities; issues that oftentimes can be mitigated by healthy nutrition. And so, inspired to incite change in her community, she reached out to several friends of hers with stalls at the farmers' markets. Within a day, she'd applied for her own stand to share the sort of veggie-liscious, wholesome food that she wanted her students to have access to. She sold just two products--kale chips and a dandelion pesto--from a retrofitted bike.

With support from the community, Paige was able to grow her little bike stall into a wholesale food company that currently sells to 24 stores in the Portland area, caters international events, and regularly partners with outdoor organizations and yoga ventures to create nourishing experiences. As Paige shares with me, Eatin' Alive is much more than a purveyor of raw food; it's about "creating a direct, hands-on approach to family nourishment." Recently, Eatin' Alive collaborated with Seed and Thistle to organize a summer foraging class. In October, Paige is working with Love Hive Yoga on a retreat about ways in which we can nurture our bodies. And the crew is at Pickathon this summer again, serving up delectable beet burgers and nutrition tips for those interested in the healing benefits of raw food.

Eatin' Alive has faced some growing pains. Although Paige originally packaged products in reusable Mason jars, selling at New Seasons (a local Portland grocery chain) has meant she's had to switch to plastic. As a wholesale company, she also wrestles with demand for certain seasonal products year-round. She's still refining how to maintain Eatin' Alive's intrinsic spirit of sustainability as the scale of production rises. It's a balance, however, that I am confident that Eatin' Alive can strike. It's a rare organization that can partner nutritional education with good food in a way that is creative, connecting, and collaborative.

As we settle into the last month or so of summer, Eatin' Alive's emphasis on vibrant food is a lovely reminder of the bounty that surrounds us. Bloodred beets and peaches the color of Northern California sunsets; tangles of bright green zucchini noodles and the violet night-hue of halved figs. This is the kind of stuff that feeds our soul and body.

Kate WeinerComment