What in the heck is this newsletter?

As anyone who lives in the Pacific Northwest knows, this land — and its mild climate — abounds with food. Some of it has nourished humans since before Europeans started measuring time. Some was planted a few generations ago and neglected. Some arrived at my house in the form of a packet I ordered from Adaptive Seeds. This newsletter chronicles my ongoing efforts to eat my way through North Portland but, I hope, maybe says something more universal.

What do you mean by ‘A Place Is a Gift’?

Maybe my introductory essay will help? I guess I have more questions about the meaning of the title than I have answers. What does it mean to live somewhere, to see it as more than a collection of houses and stores and restaurants? What does it mean to live in a culture shaped by unimaginable excess and deprivation? Can I snack on those berries growing in the neighbor’s parking strip?

Who am I?

I’m a food journalist, historian, and relative newcomer to Portland (moved here with my longtime-Portlander husband in 2019), which is also why I embarked on this project—to give my tiny, frequent cooking experiments some broader sense of purpose. I grew up in the Midwest and made it out to the West Coast right after college. After cooking professionally in my 20s, I spent more than a dozen years reviewing restaurants in the Bay Area and Seattle. I wrote features for the San Francisco Chronicle’s food section for five years, as well as Hippie Food, a book tracing the eyebrow-raising history of brown rice, granola, sprouts, and the natural foods movement of the 1970s. I’ve won a few James Beard Awards over the years and have been anthologized in Best American Food Writing three times. You can read some of my past articles at www.jonathankauffman.com.

Email Me

Email me at jk@jonathankauffman.com if you have questions. Or, if you live in the Portland metro area, reach out if your apple trees are dropping fruit, your hazelnuts are going to those asshole squirrels, or your kale beds are producing way more than you can handle. I’ve spent my life scrounging for free food. I’ll share some of what I make with it.

Subscribe to A Place Is a Gift

Stories about eating the neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. Call it gleanercore.


Portland food writer. Author of Hippie Food, a history of the natural-foods movement. More at www.jonathankauffman.com.