Daily menus, open kitchens, and women chefs may seem commonplace in today’s restaurants, but 40 years ago they were downright radical. Coming out of the social upheavals of the 1960s, California chefs, farmers, and food artisans of the 1970s bucked tradition in the kitchen and the fields, stirring a culinary revolution that has reverberated around the world.
Joyce Goldstein, one such pioneer, assembles this complex history in her new book, Inside the California Food Revolution: Thirty Years That Changed Our Culinary Consciousness (University of California Press), weaving together nearly 200 interviews with farm-to-table visionaries such as CUESA founder Sibella Kraus, Warren Weber of Star Route Farms, Steve Sullivan of Acme Bread, and Sue Conley and Peggy Smith of Cowgirl Creamery. Read more
“Operating on a month-to-month lease means you never know what will happen tomorrow or the next day,” says Caitlyn Galloway of Little City Gardens, a ¾-acre commercial farm in San Francisco’s Outer Mission district. “It makes smart investments in our business, like longer-term tools and infrastructure, much riskier.” Read more
Jim Leap, an organic farmer in Aromas, California, had his first introduction to fracking a year ago when a bunch of large trucks showed up at his property and workers started putting out data loggers. When he asked what was they were doing, he was told that they were mapping earthquake faults. Read more
We’ve all heard the old adage “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but is there much truth to it? And will any apple do? Not really. According to Jo Robinson, author of the new book Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimal Health, the most common modern apple varieties are nutritionally inferior to their wild-growing ancestors. Read more
“In [Western] medicine, we believe that one hormone can fix a problem as complicated as obesity, one neurotransmitter can fix something as complicated as depression, or one DNA strand can heal a cancer,” said Daphne Miller, MD, before a packed audience at the Ferry Building recently. Read more
For more than 35 years, Deborah Madison has been an ardent vegetable evangelist, starting from her early days cooking at Chez Panisse and then founding Greens Restaurant. Among her numerous books, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is a trusted essential for many home cooks. She is also a strong advocate for farmers markets, seasonal cooking, and heritage seeds. Read more
“We’ve had so many people come up to us and say, ‘I heard you’re closing,’” says Terry Sawyer, co-owner of Hog Island Oyster Co. “There’s just a lot of misunderstanding about what’s going on.”
Despite the rumors, Hog Island is alive and kicking, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. With more than 100 employees, a thriving Tomales Bay oyster farm, two restaurants and a café, and additional projects in the works, Terry and his partner John Finger have turned what was once a modest dream into a Bay Area institution.
But despite the farm’s success, Terry is worried about the oyster’s future, as are many farmers, marine biologists, ecologists, and bivalve lovers. Read more
At the farmers market, you can meet the farmer who grew your carrots, talk to them about their growing practices, and feel confident that your food dollars are going directly to the farm. But the path coffee travels from farm to cup is much more mysterious. How can you feel good about the businesses you’re supporting with your coffee dollars and ensure that farmers thousands of miles away are receiving their fair share? Read more
Out the rubble of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, a vision for a grand public market on the waterfront was born. A dedicated group of food lovers and city planners formed the San Francisco Public Market Collaborative to realize this vision, and on September 12, 1992, they organized the one-time Ferry Plaza Harvest Market across the Embarcadero from the Ferry Building. Read more
This month, as the nation grapples with the worst drought in decades, the USDA added more than 218 counties to its list of natural disaster areas, bringing the total to 1,584—more than half of all US counties. Farmers in the Midwest and Great Plains have been the hardest hit, but the drought is a growing reality for farmers across the country, including California. While the Secretary of Agriculture won’t comment on the drought’s link to climate change, it’s at the forefront of everyone’s mind, and as global warming unfolds, knowledge of dryland agriculture will become increasingly valuable.
David Little of Little Organic Farm has had to adapt to water scarcity in Marin and Sonoma Counties, where most farmers and ranchers rely on their own reservoirs, wells, and springs, making them particularly vulnerable in years with light rainfall. Through a technique known as dry farming, Little’s potatoes and squash receive no irrigation, getting all of their water from the soil. Read more