04 August 2016

New Vendor Profile: Umi Organic at King Farmers Market

If you’re still buying those sodium-laden, dried ramen noodle packages from the grocery store, we recommend putting them back on the shelf and opting for fresh, local ramen noodles made right here in Portland instead.

Umi Organic is a women-owned business that makes fresh organic ramen noodles using freshly-milled barley flour from the Willamette Valley. Their noodles are certified organic by Oregon Tilth and are naturally vegan, including only six ingredients – organic wheat, organic barley, water, salt, organic wheat gluten, and kansui (a combination of mineral salts that gives ramen noodles their springy resilience). And boy, are they delicious!

You can find Umi Organic noodles at our King Farmers Market on Sundays and other select locations.

noodle pile

Photo by Shawn Linehan

Established in 2015, Umi Organic was created after CEO Lola Milholland took a ramen noodle-making workshop and decided to start her own ramen noodle business to fill Portland’s need for take-home, flavorful, high quality, fresh ramen noodles.

According to Milholland, selling their noodles at farmers markets has provided them with the unique opportunity to build relationships with their customers.

“We’re a young company and getting real-time feedback is helping shape what we do and who we become,” she said. “The people who come to the market are honestly interested in who we are, what we’re doing, and what makes our noodles special. That intimacy of conversation can’t be beat.”

20160503_Umi_Katherine_Deumling_1059

Photo by Shawn Linehan, recipe by Katherine Deumling

To help show customers the versatility of their noodles, Umi offers a variety of recipes on their website, from miso-pork noodles to yakisoba to cold noodle salads. You can also ask market staff for recommendations and of course, shop for other ingredients at the market. After all, the best pairing for fresh ramen noodles is, of course, fresh and local veggies.

On Sunday, August 14, Portland Farmers Market and Umi Organic brought a tasty spin on an Olympic event to the King Portland Farmers Market for the whole family. Noodle Luge—or Nagashi Somen—is a popular summer pastime in Japan, especially with kids.

Armed with chopsticks and a bowl, participants lined up along a bamboo flume to catch fresh Umi Organic ramen noodles as they flowed past in a trickle of water. Participants then took the noodles they caught to a salad bar, hosted by PFM, to add Umi Organic sauce and an assortment of fresh, local vegetables from market vendors.

Marketgoers of all ages joined in the challenge and enjoyed its delicious reward. To learn more about the art of the Noodle Luge and to see footage of the event, click here.

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