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Lessons from the Front Line: Building a Local Grain Economy

A couple of weeks ago, a farmer, a baker and a community grains maker gathered at Oliveto in Oakland, CA to give the Kitchen Table Talks audience the low down on local grains.  Doug Mosel of The Mendocino Grain Project, Craig Pondsford of Pondsford’s Place Bakery & Innovation Center and Bob Klein of Community Grains taught us about the industrial grain economy, the local alternatives and the current barriers to expansion.  Read more

Kitchen Table Talks: A Food Activist’s Guide to Growing the Movement

While the expression “vote with your fork” has become a slogan for the modern food movement, many advocates struggle with how to move from conscientious consumerism to engaged citizenship. Harnessing the groundswell of public interest in food to create lasting policy change was the subject of a recent San Francisco Kitchen Table Talks, a monthly conversation about food issues. Read more

Kitchen Table Talks SF: Alternative Business Models

The world is still, after several long years, desperately trying to climb out of the financial abyss brought about during the latest global financial meltdown. Painful “austerity” measures, largely impacting working class people who already suffered the most during the crisis, are proffered by those responsible as the short-term economic fix to what ails nations around the world.

After roughly 150 years, and the countless day-to-day tribulations of billions of people, capitalism is being questioned like never before. Not surprisingly, the Bay Area’s counterculture spirit transforms economic models as well. New, locally minded businesses whose lifeblood includes notions antithetical to the dominant paradigm, including shared prosperity, enabling and/or giving to others, and creating community, are thriving.

Do they offer a more satisfying, rewarding, and ultimately more viable path for long-term success for society at large? On Wednesday, June 29, please join Kitchen Table Talks as we discuss the vision, mechanics, and spirit behind these “Alternative Business Models.” Read more

Kitchen Table Talks Report: Chocolate with Dignity, Part I

As a father, there is perhaps nothing more profound than being mindful, present, and open-minded enough to life’s lessons that my young child incessantly and brusquely thrusts in my face. As a winemaker, little has motivated or reminded me more about our natural propensity to be captivated by our sense of smell and taste, as much as watching my toddler instantly become enraptured with chocolate. In chocolate, at three-years old no less, he likely had already discovered one of the few things that will remain among his favorite pleasures for many decades to come. A remarkable lifetime relationship that will bring virtually uninterrupted pleasure. Anyone think they can compete with that?  Sweet dreams.

But just recently, when he turned four, I thought he was compassionate enough and could emotionally handle the “dark side” of chocolate. Read more

Kitchen Table Talks: What You Need to Know About Genetically Engineered Food (VIDEO)

For its sixth installment, Kitchen Table Talks will begin to dissect the complex issues of genetically engineered foods and equip participants with knowledge and specific actions to protect themselves, our community and the environment. Two of the most laudable champions in the fight to educate and protect the public from the unregulated, untested genetic engineering of food and unchecked interests of industrial agriculture will lead the conversation: UC Berkeley Microbial Ecologist Ignacio Chapela and Center for Food Safety attorney Zelig Golden.  Kitchen Table Talks No. 6 will take place Tuesday, Oct. 27, from 6:30 – 8:30p.m. in a new location, SUB-Mission gallery in the Mission District of San Francisco.

For more than a decade, one of the largest genetic experiments in history has been taking place and all of us have been unwitting, or at least non-consenting, participants.  According to the Center for Food Safety, up to 85 percent of U.S. corn, 91 percent of soybeans and 88 percent of cotton (cottonseed oil is often used in food products), is genetically engineered, which means an estimated 70 percent or more of all processed foods on supermarket shelves–from soda to soup, crackers to condiments–contain genetically engineered ingredients. Thanks to the tireless work of GE-critical farmers, lawyers and activists, progress is being made to shed light on GE food. The New York Times via Greenwire reported last week that the USDA has been ordered to conduct an environmental impact statement for the first time on a GE crop.

Representing the scientific perspective of genetically engineered food at the Oct. 27th Kitchen Table Talks, Dr. Chapela is the lead author of the ground breaking 2001 Nature paper that exposed the presence of genetically engineered DNA in wild Mexican maize and was a featured expert in the documentaries The Future of Food and The World According to Monsanto. Providing a view of the policy landscape and the powerful role of legal action against GE food, Zelig Golden is the Center for Food Safety attorney who was integral to the recent Federal Court victory that ordered the USDA to conduct a rigorous assessment of the environmental and economic impacts of “Roundup Ready” beets in Oregon. Read more

School Food: The Nitty Gritty Details

Kitchen Table Talks announced its fourth installment of its new conversation series about the American food system, School Food: The Nitty Gritty Details, will be held on Tuesday, August 25 at 6 p.m. at Hotel Vitale in San Francisco.

The topic of school food is challenging and complex. Every day, nearly 30 million children benefit from the National School Lunch Program. However, these meals usually consist of unhealthy processed foods and low grade industrial meat. The Child Nutrition Act which governs the National School Lunch program is up for reauthorization this year, so there is still time to have our voices heard and ensure our children have access to healthy, quality food. Join us as we discuss current policies and programs, challenges and what you can do to get real food in our public schools. Guests speakers include, but are not limited to: Colleen Kavanaugh, Executive Director, Campaign for Better Nutrition and Lena Brook, grassroots parent advocate.

Kitchen Table Talks organizers request a $10 donation to go towards administrative costs. However, no one will be turned away for lack of funds. Sustainable, local refreshments will be provided, courtesy of Bi-Rite Market. Space is limited; to reserve your seat, please email ktt@civileats.com or leave a message at 925.785.0713. Please note, this month’s KTT will be held at Hotel Vitale, 8 Mission Street, on the Embarcadero and across from the Ferry Building.

Kitchen Table Talks: What We Can Learn about Community Building from Quesada Gardens in Bayview Hunters Point

Jeffery Betcher was clear — he and his fellow organizers consider themselves community, not food, activists. Betcher, co-founder of the successful Quesada Gardens Initiative in the Bayview Hunters Point Neighborhood of San Francisco, was joined by fellow co-founder and board co-vice chair James Ross as featured presenters at Kitchen Table Talks’ third installment: Community Organizing: Addressing Food Access and Security in Bayview Hunters Point.

For decades, Bayview Hunters Point (BVHP) has been much maligned for regular reports of violence, environmental hazards and poverty. Betcher, a 10-year BVHP resident, believes the neighborhood doesn’t deserve its negative reputation. It has many strengths, including the highest rate of residential property ownership in the entire city, and many of its residents are thriving despite enormous environmental and economic injustices. Read more

What to Eat: A Revolutionary Act, with Jessica Prentice

Kitchen Table Talks announces its second installment of its new conversation series about the American food system. What to Eat: A Revolutionary Act led by local food activist and author Jessica Prentice, will be held on Tuesday, June 23 from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. at the architecture offices of Sagan-Piechota in San Francisco. Prentice, a professional chef, is the co-creator of the Local Foods Wheel and coined the term “locavore,” which was named the 2007 New Oxford American Dictionary Word of the Year. Most recently, she joined four business partners in founding Three Stone Hearth, a Community-Supported Kitchen in Berkeley that uses local, sustainable ingredients to prepare nutrient-dense, traditional foods on a community scale. Read more