Chef Calvin Blake holds the huge, deep green, red-veined leaves up to his nose and breathes in their pungent, sassy aroma. “That smells so good—so fresh!” he exclaims, adding the bags of Giant Red Mustard leaves to his cart. “These are going to be great in salads.”
“A meal without wine is like a day without sunshine.”
–Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, The Physiology of Taste (1825)
When most of us think of American wine regions, myself included, we think Napa, Sonoma, Willamette Valley and Walla Walla. But did you know that Pennsylvania makes a great ice wine? Or that you can get a sparkling wine from New Mexico or Missouri?
Rick Nahmias doesn’t equivocate when he talks about our cultural response to farm workers. “There’s something about our society…we don’t value or respect the people who are harvesting our food,” Nahmias told me over the phone recently from his studio in Los Angeles. “It’s not just that they’re sleeping on uncomfortable beds. These are people sleeping on cardboard mats under overpasses for three months at a go, and that’s so we can buy our grapes for 98 cents a pound. What are those grapes worth if that person has had to do that? I can’t see that. It doesn’t add up for me.”
The Commonwealth Club’s special month-long “How We Eat” speaker series continued last Wednesday, August 6, with a panel presented in association with Slow Food Nation. The session—the first of three co-hosted by Slow Food Nation—brought together panelists Kevin Lunny, Owner of Drakes Bay Oyster Company; Jessica Prentice, author of Full Moon Feast and co-owner of Three Stone Hearth Community Supported Kitchen; and Helene York, Director of Bon Appetit Management Company Foundation, for a conversation about “Eating the Right Way.” The discussion, moderated by Slow Food Nation Communications & Policy Director Naomi Starkman, took place in front of a full house at the Commonwealth Club.
Pickling and fermentation were probably invented out of necessity, as pre-industrial societies needed ways to preserve the harvest and provide sustenance through the winter. In more recent times, pickling and fermentation have become ways to create new flavors, enliven a meal, eat locally throughout the year, or improve the nutritional value and digestibility of a set of ingredients. Recent feature articles in the food sections of the San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times point to a new popularity for pickles in restaurants and home kitchens.
Have you been to the grocery store lately? Of course you have. Have you gone into shock at the prices yet? Of course you have. Even if you are like me and don’t spend a lot of time figuring out prices and food budgets, you have been caught off guard. It’s not just the price of that great filet, or wild salmon that has your head spinning. In fact, we expect those things to be higher. I pay just about $10 a pound for my favorite pastrami, and am happy to do it. But it is the staples that have me on pause.
Slow Food Nation is partnering with Whole Foods Market , the world’s leading natural and organic foods supermarket and America’s first certified organic retailer. Whole Foods Market is the lead sponsor of the Taste Pavilions — Slow Food Nation’s grand celebration of good, clean and fair food, featuring 15 individual pavilions showcasing the country’s best cheese, bread, wine, charcuterie, coffee, chocolate, ice cream, pickles and chutneys, honey and preserves, and much more. 1,600 discounted tickets for the Sunday Afternoon Taste Pavilion (Aug. 31, 5 to 9 p.m), are on sale now at all 23 Whole Foods Market stores in Northern California. Whole Foods Market is the only retailer to sell hard-copy tickets for $58, 10 percent off the retail price.
“Real Food Now!” is the rallying cry of a new generation of student leaders on college campuses this fall. In October, thousands of students on hundreds of campuses will participate in a national month of action, challenging their schools to invest in food that is healthy, local, fair, ecologically sound and humane.
If we can make the right choices about where our food comes from, we can change the world. Protecting farmland is the first vital step.
When Ellen Straus, a dairywoman from Marshall, California, gazed out from her family’s farm in the early 1970s, she saw practically the same sight as those who raised livestock there 150 years before would had seen. And it was just about the same view a coastal traveler on this section of Highway One, located about 50 miles north of San Francisco, would see today: rolling hills, ranches, and the sparkling estuarine waters of Tomales Bay.