As consumers, we all know and try to live the mantra “vote with your fork.” But as citizens, voting with our forks can only get us so far. Standing up for real change in our food system requires getting informed, involved, and activated. As the political season heats up, please join us for Kitchen Table Talks on Tuesday, September 20 to hear how ordinary people made extraordinary improvements in our community and learn the tools of political engagement. It will be the first KTT in the new 18 Reasons location, across the street from Bi-Rite Market.

We encourage participants to take their newly learned skills the following week to a free San Francisco mayoral candidate forum on Monday, September 26, sponsored by the San Francisco Urban Agriculture Alliance, San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance, and Bay Area Water Stewards. There you can engage candidates on their perspectives on issues related to urban agriculture, schoolyard greening, and the City’s management of water resources.

When: Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Where: 18 Reasons, 3674 18th Street (@ Dolores), San Francisco

Food and drink at 6:30 pm; Discussion at 7:00 pm

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Like many social movements, the so-called “good food movement” relies heavily on young people for their vision, energy, and idealism. And yet, when Naomi Starkman, one of the organizers behind the Kitchen Table Talks series, invited six young leaders to speak at a panel called Next Gen Food Activists, she pinpointed just what sets them apart.

“This group is interested in rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty,” said Starkman from a podium at the UC Berkeley Journalism School, which co-hosted the panel. “They’re also one of the most technologically connected generations, using social tools and the internet to organize.”

Indeed, as the discussion illuminated, the young men and women present have succeeded in ways that have seamlessly blended the online and offline worlds. They also represented multiple lenses on the edible world: from food justice to green business, to the “delicious revolution.” Read more

In late January, the U.S. Department of Agriculture deregulated genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa and sugar beets.  These products will now enter the food stream for animals and people.  Who cares about these developments?  Organic farmers certainly care, because of the risk of contamination of their non-GE crops through drift of the GE seeds onto their non-GE land.  Well-informed and true-believing food advocates care.  They do not want to GE food products, on principle and for fear of harm to living creatures.  Stated more broadly and clearly, people want to know—indeed deserve to know—that they eat safe food, not contaminated or toxic in any way. Read more

All across the nation people are converting their front and backyards, vacant lots, and other spaces into thriving and productive food gardens. To help encourage new gardeners along this verdant path, The 350 Garden Challenge will bring thousands together over a a single weekend, May 15-16, to transform 350+ Sonoma County landscapes into bountiful gardens. The goal is to save water, link local food production and carbon savings, grow food and habitat, promote greywater, and encourage lawn to food transformations. The project is inspired in part by the international campaign to find and implement solutions to climate change. Read more

Vegetable expert and bestselling cookbook author Mollie Katzen’s handwritten and illustrated cookbook, The Moosewood Cookbook, (not to mention The Enchanted Broccoli Forest and her cookbooks for children, Pretend Soup and Honest Pretzels) introduced many to the love of cooking. She was inducted into the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame in 2007 and her most recent book, Get Cooking, was recently nominated for an International Association of Culinary Professionals Award. Beloved by many, new to some, Katzen continues her clarion call for taking back our food system one delicious meal at a time. I recently spoke to Mollie about vegetables, the new Good Food Movement, and the radical necessity of cooking. Read more

I can’t believe I missed it: the Meat Industry Hall of Fame’s first-ever induction ceremony occurred in Chicago on October 27. And what a night it was: headlined by the illustrious Bill Kurtis—the former CBS anchor who currently narrates criminal justice shows for the A&E Television Network.

Meat industry luminaries including Don Tyson, Jimmy Dean, and the late Frank Perdue were inducted that evening, along with litigious feedlot owner Paul Engler, who you might remember for suing Oprah Winfrey over mad cow disease and getting spanked in court. By all accounts, it was a truly magical evening, what with Kurtis’ gripping keynote address offering up a 30 minute history of the American meat industry.

Despite the glitz, an undercurrent of worry pervaded the event. See, the meat industry was in the midst of its most horrific year on record, being seemingly besieged by all sides. Robert “Bo” Manly, CFO of pork titan Smithfield Foods put it best: “Anything that breathed lost money.” Read more

Happy New Year and welcome back for more Kitchen Table Talks, the monthly conversation series about the American food system. Many thanks to all of you who participated in our discussions in 2009 and we look forward to a fruitful and inspiring year of exchanging knowledge and ideas and building community with you. We’re excited to kick off 2010 with a conversation on Urban Homesteading on Tuesday, January 19 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at our new location in San Francisco’s Mission district at Viracocha, 998 Valencia St. at 21st St.

As the good food movement grows and urban farming heroes like Growing Power’s Will Allen and Oakland’s own Novella Carpenter pave the way, we will explore the surge towards City self-sufficiency, including growing and preserving your own food; raising chickens and goats; keeping bees and worms; composting, installing greywater and rainwater catchment systems; and a whole host of other DIY activities. Read more

It is often said: You are what you eat, and increasingly in this day and age we come to define ourselves by our food habits.  Are you a vegetarian or a vegan?  Are you a compassionate carnivore or a junk-food junkie?  Are you a locavore?  A raw foodist?  An omnivore?

We choose these labels for ourselves because they in many ways reflect our core values. Read more

The second installment of Kitchen Table Talks was held last Tuesday in San Francisco. The evening featured Jessica Prentice, a professional chef, local foods activist and author and a clip of Edible City, a forthcoming documentary which follows the lives of Bay Area residents who are creating a local food system in their neighborhoods and communities.

Slated for distribution in early 2010, Edible City is a project of East Bay Pictures, a film company committed to making motion pictures that inspire reflection, compassion and imagination. The film, which uses character vignettes, showed Joy Moore, a longtime activist and teacher, discussing gardening and nutrition with the students at Berkeley Technology Academy. To help bring this inspiring film about growing local food systems to a larger audience, East Bay Pictures is seeking funds to finish the film. Read more