Lisa Clark was a freshman at the University of Oregon when she found herself overcome with digestive problems. More than one gastroenterologist diagnosed her with IBS — Irritable Bowel Syndrome — but after doing her own dietary experimentation, she found that cutting gluten and dairy from her diet improved her digestion, energy level and even her skin. She lost 60 pounds.
Clark found that she had a gluten intolerance, meaning her body had difficulty digesting the substance found in wheat and other grains that gives bread its elasticity. She’s not alone. Diagnoses of gluten intolerance, and the more-extreme celiac disease, have been consistently rising. A 2003 study suggested as many as one in 133 Americans have the disease. Or, as Clark puts it, “Now everyone and their mom is gluten-free.”
After college, Clark moved to Portland and found work as a baker at Papa Haydn’s Southeast location.
“I learned a ton about production, but I couldn’t eat anything that I was making,” Clark says. “I was doing research on vegan and gluten-free baking, but when I first started, it was all based on potato flours, bean flours. I just thought, this stuff’s terrible, I’m going to do it another way.”
Her business, Petunia’s Pies & Pastries, sells vegan, gluten-free pastries (though Clark isn’t vegan: she skips dairy, but eats meat). After two years selling baked goods at area farmer’s markets and Last Thursday events on Northeast Alberta Street, today she’s scouting locations for a brick-and-mortar shop in the Pearl District or Northwest Portland.”
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