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Getting Local Food, Locally Part II: Chipotle

20 Jun

Chipotle is a chain of Mexican Style fast food restaurants in the United States – and they don’t buy their pork from factory farms. That is only the start! While they are not 100% organic or sustainable yet, they have a fantastic “Food With Integrity” philosophy which includes “unprocessed, seasonal, family-farmed, sustainable, nutritious, naturally raised, added hormone free, organic, and artisanal” foods.

There is a great Nightline Segment from 6/16/09 all about this Chipotle philosophy with a cameo from Joel of Polyface Farms.

The craziest thing about all this is that I have not yet been to this restaurant! Fortunately, we have two in San Francisco. We sent an email to Chipotle asking about their produce and rice as this is not discussed on their website as much as their meat and beans. They sent us a great response!

“We have currently committed to buying 35 percent of one bulk produce item for all of our restaurants, when seasonally available, from local farmers. We’re looking to build on this program for the future. Last year, when we began the program, we sourced 25 percent of one bulk produce item used in each store from a local farm. This year we have upped our goals to 35 percent so we are making some progress.

We need a lot of ingredients. Unfortunately these better suppliers are more of a niche than a mainstream. Our plan is just to start small, just as we did with our naturally-raised meats, and to grow the program from there as supply increases to meet demand.

With our program, our produce is generally coming from within 200 miles or less of our restaurants. This might also be on a seasonal basis. As you might be able to imagine, it would be quite a challenge to buy certain items, such as romaine lettuce in Minneapolis, in the middle of the winter.

Unfortunately, I cannot give you specifics for rice, lettuce or tomatoes as different restaurant are focusing on different things that will work better for that region. However, we are really focused on making a difference. As part of our Food with Integrity initiative, we are trying to operate our restaurants in a manner which is better for the environment, better for the animals, and better for the farmers who raise the animals and grow the produce. We also happen to think fresh food tastes better. In this way, we hope it is also better for our customers.”


Have you heard of the Right Livelihood Awards?

8 Dec

This morning I was listening to‘s War and Peace Report and heard that the founder and host, Amy Goodman, was broadcasting from Sweden as she is being given a Right Livelihood Award.

What a fabulous idea.

Learn more here:


19 Feb

 The TerraCycle story…

…is a tale of ultimate Eco-Capitalism. The company’s flagship product, TerraCycle Plant Food™, is an all-natural, all-organic, ‘goof-proof’ liquid plant food made from waste (worm poop) and packaged in waste (reused soda bottles)!

Check out this AWESOME company here:

SPOTLIGHT: Rothbury Festival

16 Feb

ROTHBURY is dedicated to throwing a HUGE party… with a purpose. This July 4th weekend, ROTHBURY emerges as a new American celebration where music and cause join together to stir ideas, to awaken possibilities, and to empower through knowledge. And yeah, to have the time of our lives.

Our theme is Finding Energy Independence. ROTHBURY is guided by a bold environmental sustainability mission. Dedicated to running as close to a zero-waste event as possible, we have implemented the following initiatives, and continue to add to this list…
A Sustainable Camping Festival Celebrating Music, Art and Action | July 3-6, 2008 | Rothbury, MI

Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market.

11 Nov

Today we went to the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market. I have avoided this market for more than 2 years. The reasons are as follows: 1) I used to work in the Ferry Building.. and market days were chaotic! 2) the food is not what one might call  inexpensive 3) did I mention that market days are chaotic? So are lines for the bathroom. However, today I felt like properly checking the market out. One of the disadvantages of working during the market is that you never really have time to explore.

Here’s a list of what we bought:

  • at least 3 kinds of hot chili peppers
  • pea sprout pesto
  • almond maple spread
  • mixed, sprouted beans
  • pumpkin quark cheese
  • organic butter
  • fennel
  • purple radishes
  • almond butter
  • almond chocolate coffee brittle
  • a mossy turtle with a plant growing out of it!
  • serrano chili seasoning

Things I saw, did not buy, but will buy in the future:

  • organic, brown rice
  • jerusalem artichokes
  • various organic dried beans

So, as you can see, many of these things are not easily found at your average shop. I intend to make the FPFM an occasional supplement to my existing market diet. We also stopped by Mistral Rotisserie Provencale for lunch. One of the things I quite like about the restaurants and shops at the Ferry Building is that they are very much dedicated to using and selling local and organic food. The prices might be a bit high, and the atmosphere a bit upscale, but their hearts are in a good place. I actually know the owners of Mistral a bit and they are great people. And they make an absolutely kick-ass Morrocan Lamb Stew (Tagine).

So, in general, I give this farmers’ market a thumbs up. At least when it comes to variety and quality. However I find the customers rather rude. People are bumping into eachother all the time and, frankly, there’s less diversity. And more tourists. Also, I wouldn’t really call the atmosphere ‘relaxed’. Sorry Ms. Plaza, I’m not giving up Heart of the City Farmers’ Market any time soon.

Life on the Hill: Part 1

3 Nov

I keep meaning to write about my new neighborhood. Each day it seems there are new and interesting discoveries to add to the list of things I want to discuss. So I’ve decided to start with a little history…

Two weeks ago, I moved to Telegraph Hill. Most people (locals included) think I am talking about Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley even though I’ve specified that I’m living in San Francisco. But most SF residents don’t visit this neighborhood. There’s no way to get around the steep streets leading up from North Beach, or the hundreds of steps up Filbert Street from the Historic Waterfront Disctrict. Coit Tower sits at the very top of the hill, and looks over.. pretty much everything. And there’s Julius’ Castle too, a rather nice restaurant with a rather amazing view. Otherwise the area is strictly residential, with a shop and laundromat or two. Hardly the hustle and bustle just a few blocks away in North Beach.

One of the most interesting things about Telegraph Hill, in my opinion, is the eastern cliff face. At the bottom of this side of the hill was the Telegraph Hill Cemetery, where non-catholic sailors were buried over a century ago. The cliff face is evidence of the ballast quary that was once here. I am not sure how much of the hill was removed during that time but the rock is now covered in a thick blanket of blackberry, ivy, fennel and a number of other plants I’ve yet to identify. The various parts of the hill have concentrations of different bushes and trees. A little more to the southeast and there is a clump of strange, straight-branched pines, trees engulfed in ivy and even a few agave.

I saw a mouse on the steps a couple of days ago and I’ve seen some very strange bugs (I took a photo of one of them, it came out terribly blurry!) and had a face off with a fuchsia-headed humming bird and just today a blue jay landed in one of my planters as I was tending to my ivy.  I’ve become familiar with the favorite landing spots of the growing cherry-headed conure flock and noticed how quiet the hill gets when there’s a hawk circling above.

I could go on forever about Telegraph Hill. I’ve lived in San Francisco for 4 years and I feel that for the first time I can honestly say that this neighborhood has made me love San Francisco. And this environment has forced me to be more mindful of my surroundings. I suppose that’s the reason I’m writing about it. Living here, I cannot afford to keep my eyes closed. I just might miss something wonderful.

More to come in future posts. I’ve added some recent Telegraph Hill photos to the flickr stream, including the one of the blurry bug!

And if you’re interested in San Francisco history, check out

Local Food Spotlight: Cowgirl Creamery

10 Oct

Cowgirl Creamery is located north of the Golden Gate Bridge in Point Reyes Station, CA. They make some of the best cheese I’ve ever eaten and have won a number of awards around the United States and in Canada. Their cheese is made with organic, GMO free, vegetarian rennet and organic Straus Family Creamery milk.

My recommendation: try the Mt. Tam cheese!