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Food & Farm Update – Fall 2009

28 Nov


Oddly enough, the Marvel Stripe tomatoes keep appearing even though I have stopped watering the plant and it is half dead. A couple weeks ago I collected all of the green tomatoes from the plant and have been pickling them – but I will talk about that a bit later. The herbs are still doing just fine in the shady spot that they are in and I have been using my most of our food scraps to start on the compost for next spring. I also discovered that some plants that I originally thought were some sort of beans (not because they had any pods, but because they were growing where I planted a bunch of beans) turned out to be sunchokes! Hurray for unexpected edible things!


I’ve had some success and some failure over the past few months. first, I had another unexpected find a few weeks ago – but this time it was at the farmers’ market.  As I was stopping by the Massa Organics booth to pick up some rice,  I noticed the farmer was there! I had not met him before and we chatted a bit. I found out that he was there because once or twice a year (litterly, two days a year – once in fall & once in spring) they have Peking duck to sell.  As an organic farmer, ducks have become an important part of his pest and weed control. So, I bought one. I had never cooked duck before and knew full well that I might totally destroy it but it seemed too good to pass up. A couple weeks later I had a small dinner party and cooked it up and it turned out great. Thanks to Australian chefs Corrine Evatt and Mary-Jane Craig!

I also took a class on making kimchee and sauerkraut. The kimchee turned out great and I even managed to trade some for a beer at my favorite local bar! The sauerkraut that I made a few months back turned out well, but this one somehow went all haywire. It may have been because of the juniper berries that were added (a flavor I am not accustomed to in sauerkraut) or there’s some new and special kind of mold or bacteria, but it had a weird, almost detergent-like flavor and left a very dry taste behind – like a really dry red wine. It smelled strange too. Since I was a bit too uncertain, I decided to compost it. It’s a pity as I was really looking forward to eating that kraut as it had a variety of interesting ingredients that I never would have thought to use. The pickled green tomatoes are working out very well! I am not sure what I will use them with yet. with all of this pickling that I am doing, I had better figure something out! I find fermentation interesting and exciting but the reality is that we never ate anything other than dill pickles when I was growing up.  So, I’m not entirely sure what so do with all this pickled food. Suggestions are welcome!


Market Photo Diary

3 Oct

I am trying something new. Last week I took a photograph of everything that I had purchased at the farmers’ market. I thought it would be an interesting experiment to do this each week.  Though I forgot to upload the photos last week – and had to take two photos because I forgot to empty all of my bags!

This week – October 3rd, 2009 – Includes a quart of yogurt, grapefruit, raw almonds, sesame glazed walnuts, red wheat berries, new york special apples, huge multicolored radishes, fresh basil, chicken of the woods mushrooms, fresh sweet peas, liverwurst, fresh horse radish, raw milk cheddar and goat sage cheese.

Last Week – September 27th, 2009 – Includes a cabbage, pomegranates, cucumbers, eggplant, heirloom tomatoes, dry farmed early girl tomatoes, dozen brown eggs, mixed nuts and pecans, mixed bag of stone fruit, 3 kinds of onions and 3 kinds of potatoes

Spotlight: Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market: A Photo Story

9 May

Though the farmers’ market I usually shop at is the Heart of the City, I stop by the Ferry Plaza a few times a year. This is not so much for the produce, as I find that the fruit and vegetables at the Heart of the City are quite fabulous and much less expensive, but for the items that are harder to find, The Ferry Plaza Market is great!

Since today was such a lovely San Francisco day, I decided to head out early to see if I could get to some of the market goodies that tend to vanish before 10am, beat the lunch crowd and take some photos.

I am also starting to keep a list of the farms that I learn about and how far they are from San Francisco. To see a map of North California farms that travel to or sell in San Francisco markets click here: Northern California Farms Chico, California

Massa Organics

Massa Organics

I have been a fan of Massa Organics since I first encountered them. They are one of the few grain producers in the area (currently brown rice and red wheat berries) and their almonds are wonderful too! You can even follow them on twitter now @MassaOrganics and get updates direct from the tractor. Which, if you are an agro-nerd like me, will make you giddy. But maybe that is just me. ..

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Eaten by the Chronophage

22 Nov

It’s been months since I’ve written anything of any interest, and much has happened: Slow Food Nation, an unexpected move, the presidential election and the Green Fest. All of which I will touch on at some point in this post. It’s been a tumultuous 3 months and I now feel that I am finally settling down a bit and after some periods of stress and worry, disappointment and disillusionment, I am now feeling hopeful and more inspired. Thank goodness.

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Summer Observations

25 Aug

This is most definitely the best time of year for produce at the farmers’ market. Just about everything that is available at any time of year in the Bay Area is in season. My favorite things available right now are the fresh beans (black-eyed peas, cranberry and edamame) the wonderful berries (blueberry, strawberry, blackberry and raspberry,) fresh mission figs and dry farmed heirloom and early bird tomatoes. There are plenty of squash varieties too and lots of interesting melons. I love keeping track of when certain things are in season. Blueberries, edamame and figs tend to have a relatively small window of availability and I look forward to the different seasons of produce.

This is also the time of year for tourists. The city is full of visitors right now and, as I live in one of the most visited parts of San Francisco, I run into them frequently. It is interesting to see the different kinds of tourists, where the are from and how they respond to the small mountain of steps they must walk up or down when visiting Coit Tower. The gardens on Telegraph Hill are in full bloom right now, and continental Europeans walk up and down the hundreds of steps with ease, while British and American tourists voice there disbelief at the thought of anyone actually living here. How do people go shopping? Do they have to CARRY everything up and down these steps? How much further is it? What do you do if you need to run and get some milk?

Sometimes I feel like a bit of an oddity as I turn towards the building I live in and away from the people-filled steps as they watch me carrying groceries or household items. My cat is fond of following us up and down the steps as well and sometimes I catch her posing for photographs with the tourists. It’s terribly adorable and I often get the urge to tell people that she is my cat. She walks around like she owns the place.

Now, back to the food! Below are the recipes that I have made today, using the wonderful local ingredients that we picked up today.

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What Is This Herb? – Revisited

12 Aug

Some time ago I wrote about a strange herb that I acquired at the farmers’ market. I was told that it was called water mint, but all the photographs and information I found online could not confirm that. Thanks to a blog post over at Pinoy Cook, I think I have discovered what this plant actually is: Water Spinach!

Now to start searching for recipes!

Some interesting historical information about the water spinach here.

The Case for Reducing Soy Consumption

8 Jun

As mentioned in my first post on this blog “You are what you eat.. a Vegan Food Activist” I discuss the fact that I stay away from processed food as much as possible. Frankly, this has become even more important to me since then with the top reasons being health: knowing what’s in the food and that is it fresh and full of nutrients, social and economic justice: knowing that everyone involved is getting paid a decent wage and being treated fairly as well as putting money into the local economy, and environmental justice: knowing where the food came from and knowing its impact on the environment.

With this in mind, it can make life difficult when not eating meat. Most people automatically assume that eating soy-based meat substitute products is par for the course and when I tell them that I generally don’t eat those products, they have trouble imagining what I could possibly be eating for a protein. First, I tell them that there are many wonderful proteins available in beans, nuts and grains. Second, though I do occasionally eat organic tofu and soy sauce, I tend to avoid soy products as a rule.

As someone who, first and foremost, avoids processed food, this automatically cuts out soy that is somehow made to look and taste like sausage. I used to be quite impressed with how the companies were doing this. How could you possibly make soy look and taste like sausage? Well.. exactly! The more ingredients on the list, the more manufacturers involved, the more people involved in the process, the more likely it is that the ingredients came from a large variety of sources and locations, and the less information we have available to us for an informed decision.

When walking through a grocery store, take a look at the ingredients of the products you pick up. Especially with foods like crackers and breads; how many of them have some sort of soy product listed? Sure, soy has proven to be one of the most versatile and nutritious plants on the planet and because of this the demand has skyrocketed. We are vegetarians and vegans (or trying to have a more healthful diet), but we still want our meat and dairy. And our soap, cosmetics, plastics, inks, solvents, clothing, alcohol, oil, biodiesel, flour, livestock feed and many other products.

Our desire for soy and beef and exotic woods are the primary causes for the depletion of one of the world’s greatest sources of biodiversity and oxygen: The Amazon Rainforest. Yes, people are cutting down the amazon for soy production.

Keep that in mind the next time you reach for that soyburger.

More information:…amazon_rainforest_shrinking.html