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Marcy Coburn: A New Leader in The Town Local Food Built

Marcy Coburn might just have landed her dream job. After two years at the helm of Oakland, California’s Food Craft Institute (FCI), and a year running its affiliated sustainable food event, the Eat Real Festival, Coburn will begin next month as the executive director of Center for Urban Education About Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA), the educational nonprofit organization that runs San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

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Dispatch from the Eat Real Festival in Oakland, CA

There are plenty of end-of-summer activities to take part in this time of year, trying to squeeze in that last stay-cation before fall descends. But for two years now, those of us here in the Bay area whose lives revolve around food more than, say, Burning Man, find salvation, and company, in the back-to-back food festival fun of SF Street Food and Eat Real. This year I caught up with Susan Coss, Director of Eat Real 2010, who filled me in on some of the reasons this food event continues to charm us all. Read more

Why We Harvest: An Urban Fruit Gleaning Manifesto

Imagine gathering several friends for morning, midday, evening or weekend foraged city bicycle rides through your neighborhood. Rough maps are drawn, noting the forage-ables that can be found at each location and ‘cold calls’ are made to your neighbors asking if you can sample a fruit from their backyard tree. You have the courage to introduce yourself (despite the pervasiveness and acceptance of urban anomie) and they reward your neighborliness with a sample of Santa Rosa plums, for example. Later, when you find yourself with a surplus of Persian mulberries, you, in turn, deliver a small basket to said neighbor. With time and in this fashion, a community of people who care for and know one another is built, and rather than being the exception, this could be the norm.

This is not idealistic, rather it is necessary, pragmatic, and creative — especially in times when much of the world is suffering from lack of access to healthful and satisfying fresh food. Forage Oakland is a project that works to construct a new model, and is one of many neighborhood projects that will eventually create a network of local resources that address the need and desire for neighborhoods to be more self-sustaining in meeting their food needs. At its core, it works to address how we eat everyday, and how everyone can benefit from viewing their neighborhood as a veritable edible map, considering what is cultivated in any given neighborhood and why, and what histories influence those choices. The gleaning of unharvested fruits; the meeting of new neighbors; the joy of the season’s first hachiya persimmon (straight from your neighbor’s backyard, no less); the gathering and redistribution of fruits that would otherwise be wasted — can be powerful and can work to create a new paradigm around how we presently think about food in our collective consciousness. Read more

Tickets Still Available: Come Eat Paella with Us and Support a Good Cause! (Menu Inside)

Civil Eats is thrilled to partner with Camino Restaurant in Oakland, California for our fundraiser on Monday night, part of the Eat Real Festival‘s Keeping It Real dinners. We hope to raise a bit of cash so to help keep our wheels turning over here — until now we haven’t recouped funds through advertising (and want to keep it that way) and have yet to get any steady funding, and in these economic times we’ve kept afloat simply with a strong will to inform you, our dear readers, about the issues facing our food system. Its all about the love, but we gotta eat!

Please, if you are in the Bay Area, come and join us at our fundraiser dinner on Monday evening, and enjoy great food and meet your loyal editors. We will talk shop and inform you about what we’re working on, and it will be an all around smashing time. Promise! And if you are not in the Bay Area, could you pass this along to your friends who are? We appreciate it!

In addition to delicious paella made in the Camino fireplace, and beautiful, local, organic summer produce and cheeses from Andante Dairy and Harley Farms, there will be organic and biodynamic wines. We wouldn’t think of serving real food supporters anything less delicious. Here is the menu as it is looking right now: Read more

Yes, We Canned

Canning is hot and sticky (sometimes salty) work. Your fingers go pruny, you get sugar rushes (if you’re making jam) and salt dehydration (if you’re canning savory). Like everything that’s hot, sticky, exhausting, and a little risky, it’s way more fun with friends. Canning has historically been a community venture, with folks pitching in when the fruit and vegetables are abundant. But times have changed, Americans have been taught to be afraid of their own canned foods, “botulsim”, “contamination”, “microorganisms” are the words that come to mind when you mention home canning to most people instead of evoking the joyous sticky deliciousness of homemade jam. Read more

Change the Food Agenda, by Eating Dinner at OPEN

OPENrestaurant, an ongoing series of conceptual art/dinners put on by Chez Panisse employees Jerome Waag, Stacie Pierce, and Sam White, had its third installment at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on January 6. The happening, which melds performance and dinner party, inadvertently weighed in on an argument that’s been circulating in food politics circles for a while. Read more

La Cocina, A Delicious Economic Renewal

The ingredients for green collar economic renewal via food-based businesses have been stewing for a few years in the Mission at La Cocina. Entering its fifth year of operation in 2009, La Cocina was founded to provide kitchen space and assistance to food entrepreneurs – many of them low-income and all of them women – helping them in starting new businesses or grow their home-based businesses into stable ventures. Read more