On a recent Friday outside San Diego, California, 26 farmers and eight food distributors set up tables at a local ranch. Representatives from dozens of area school districts (plus a few folks from universities, hospitals, restaurants, grocers, senior centers, and preschools) shuffled from booth to booth, tasting growers’ products, shaking hands, and hashing out potential business deals. When asked how he’d done at the end of the day, Colin Bruce, salesman for the award-winning hydroponic farm Go Green Agriculture, pulled a wallet-sized stack of business cards from his pocket and fanned them out. “This is a unique event,” he said. Read more
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Oakland, California is a city in flux. The rental market in San Francisco has finally gone “totally bonkers,” and this once-working-class city across the bay is filling up with young families, artists, tech refugees, and just about everyone else who wants to stay in an urban area, but can no longer afford the city across the bay. And while some praise Oakland’s diversity and “livability,” many are concerned by signs of spill-over gentrification. Read more
Most people take it for granted that all the fruits and vegetables at the farmers’ market are grown by the farmers selling them–and with good reason: Farmers markets foster direct relationships between producers and consumers.
But recent reports of fraud threaten to undermine that foundation of trust. In 2010, an undercover investigation revealed farmers buying wholesale produce from Mexico to sell at Los Angeles farmers’ markets. Last year, LA County boosted enforcement at markets and rooted out 19 vendors selling produce they didn’t grow. Read more
Turning to drink is almost never the answer to one’s problems unless one happens to run a struggling apple orchard, in which case, bottoms up! The drink in question is hard cider—a forgotten American favorite that’s enjoying newfound popularity and helping to revive orchards throughout the country. Read more
At Nopalito, if the local corn runs out, you might as well shut the doors. It’s typical for the restaurant’s two San Francisco locations to go through 200 pounds of California-grown organic masa in a single day. The grain is at the menu’s core, used in everything from tamales, to tortillas, to house-made chips. Read more
When Mark Abbott’s son was in fourth grade, his local elementary school recruited students and their families to participate in a fundraiser for the school. After successfully selling cookie dough and candy to friends and family, Abbott’s son remarked that he had just sold $400 worth of things the family would never eat at home. “It’s too bad we couldn’t try something healthy like apples,” said his son. Read more
Sam Fromartz’s book In Search of the Perfect Loaf: A Home Baker’s Odyssey was recently published by Viking and it’s already causing a stir. Mark Bittman has called it “bread book of the year.” The Washington Post described it as a “brilliant memoir.” Alice Waters and Daniel Leader of Bread Alone have been singing its praises. He travelled through Europe and the US, working next to artisan bakers and perfecting his craft, but in this memoir-cum-travel-cum-baking narrative he weaves in the history of grains, the science of bread making, and the personalities of bakers. Fromartz, who is editor-in-chief of the Food & Environment Reporting Network, sat down to discuss the book with Slow Food USA. Read more
There are two stories about the artisan cheesemaker’s life: The fantasy, filled with bleating goats, calm country days, homemade wine, and an enviable supply of chèvre, and the reality, which looks more like a scientific laboratory with a lot of dishes to wash. As most cheesemakers will tell you, their craft is an incredible alchemy of grass, sunshine, and milk, but it’s no tres leches cakewalk. Read more
Oysters are big business. That might not be immediately apparent on a visit to Hog Island Oyster Company in Northern California’s bucolic Tomales Bay, where the place still has a seafood shack sensibility. The farm was started more than 30 years ago by two marine biologists who borrowed $500 from parents and a boat from neighbors and began cultivating briny bivalves in five-acres of intertidal waters.
As a small seafood business and sustainable farm, Hog Island has weathered its share of hardships, including significant oyster seed shortages and the threat of species extinction, courtesy of environmental challenges.
It has stayed afloat, though. In fact, three decades on, Hog Island has quite the cult following around the country and it has earned respect as a leader in the shellfish industry. These days, founders John Finger and Terry Sawyer preside over a $12 million operation that employs almost 200, farms 160 acres, and harvests over 3.5 million oysters, clams, and mussels every year. Read more
The Umatilla tribes in northeastern Oregon promised to take care of the foods that promised to take care of them: water, fish, game, roots, and berries. Can they keep that promise in a warming world? Read more