Category Archives: The Bay

Introducing the 2017 Slow Food Summer Lecture Series

 

Slow Food San Francisco introduces its first-ever Summer Lecture Series, to promote and highlight the keystone issues that create a society that produces food that is good, clean and fair for all.

This year’s series will focus on fish, farms, and wine, and we will offer a varied program for our community!

The efforts of this year’s event go to promote the Winemmem Wintu Tribe’s Salmon Restoration Project, and their honorable mission to bring native California Salmon back to the Bay Area.

July edition here.

Guest Post: The Garden at AT&T Park

A note from Sally Rogers, Chair of Slow Food San Francisco: Slow Food San Francisco spent some time touring the Garden at AT&T Park in the last couple weeks. We love what they’re doing there! Like Slow Food, they believe it’s important for individuals to begin learning about the benefits of healthy eating at an early age – and they’re teaching Bay Area kids about that every day! Check out more about their impact and programs below.

It’s been a cold and wet winter, but the Garden at AT&T Park has not let the rain slow down its efforts to provide nutrition and food education for children in the Bay Area community. Each week, students from public schools, after-school programs, and community organizations that include Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco, YMCA of San Francisco, Hamilton Family Center, and the Junior Giants visit the Garden for hands-on lessons in gardening, cooking, and nutrition.

We believe it’s important for individuals to begin learning about the benefits of healthy eating at an early age, and many of the kids who visit us live in low-income areas where access to fresh fruits and vegetables is limited. In 2016, more than 1,000 children participated in the Garden at AT&T Park’s education program, and 2017 is already off to a great start. Groups such as Sutro Elementary, Mission Community Beacon, Paul Revere Elementary, and Community Grows have visited the Garden and made delicious meals using ingredients that they harvested themselves.

Photo credit: SF Giants
Bon Appétit Management Company Chef Shennen Brady leading a sorrel tasting with the Junior Giants.

 

Photo credit: SF Giants
Young chef practicing his knife safety skills while making rainbow fruit kebabs.

Our field trips usually open with a discussion about where food comes from or the importance of eating locally sourced food. Students often hear about the challenges within our food system, but they aren’t always presented with achievable solutions. That’s what we hope to empower them with.

The Garden at AT&T Park is a partnership between the San Francisco Giants and Bon Appétit Management Company. In addition to its role as an outdoor classroom, the Garden inspires fans of all ages to learn about sustainability, urban farming, and healthy eating through the two bistros located within the garden—Hearth Table and Garden Table. During baseball games, fruits and vegetables are harvested at peak ripeness and serve as an inspiration for dishes served. Anyone with a regular ticket has access to the garden, which opens two hours before the first pitch.

To stay up to date with what’s going in the Garden at AT&T Park, follow us on social media (@GiantsGarden Instagram and Twitter) or visit our website at www.bamco.com/garden. If you’re interested in learning more about our education program, contact Garden at AT&T Park Program Manager Allison Campbell.

Here Piggy Piggy . . .

Mangalitsa, Ossabaw . . . .sounds like some exotic bird species. Really they’re pig varieties that were recently raised in a breed-feed trial done by Live Culture Company.  Started by the former Executive Director of Slow Food Nation, Anya Fernald, in 2008, Live Culture Company is a consulting company that supports the development of viable, thriving food businesses that produce artisan, sustainable and quality food.

In this latest project a total of 65 Mangalitsa, Ossabaw, Berkshire, and Mangalitsa/Berkshire crosses were fattened up at Shasta Valley Farms in Gazelle, California on varying combinations of apples, tritcale, almonds, and acorns. The goal was to see which breed-feed combination would make the best-tasting meat raised on that piece of land. The idea of infusing flavor into live meat takes me back Les Blank’s 1979 film Garlic Is As Good As Ten Mothers, where Alice Waters, founder of Chez Panisse restaurant, is shown feeding heads of garlic to a sow, only so she could pass her garlic milk onto her suckling piglets — a testament to the old adage, “You are what you eat.”

Forty of the pigs were slaughtered and those in the know were given the opportunity to purchase shares, each of which included smoked bacon, loin chops, and a heap of sausages. Shares were picked up at a day-long event held at Blue Bottle Coffee Company’s roastery in Oakland, where additional pig parts were sold to the public – heads, back fat, lard, trotters, not to mention the better-than-butter lardo (salt-cured lard). Frozen lardo can be sliced thin and eaten on slices of baguette —a sublime melt-in-your-mouth experience that leaves you wanting more. Fresh grilled sausage sandwiches and samples of the lardo made this a tasty event in a piggy sort of way.

So who won the breed-feed trial? “Our general conclusions were that the age of the animals and the size of the animals had as much to do with their value as the breed,” says project coordinator, David Gumbiner.“  We also found that the Crosses (Berk/Manga) were the best, because they retained a lot of the positive characteristics of the heritage fat, but grew faster and more reliably, like the Berkshires. Also, they were deemed excellent for charcuterie.”

Pork fans from all over came to get a share of the best pig that money can’t buy. “The response to this event was overwhelming,” says Gumbiner.  “There’s a huge interest in farm-direct pork. People want to know where their meat is coming from.” Avid home cooks and hobbyist sausage makers alike could not pass up this opportunity and walked away with pounds of fat back slung over their shoulders, as visions of salami danced in their heads.

Food Access? There’s a Map for That

No eggs, no meat, no public transportation. D.C. is struggling with all of these issues after yet another snow storm. Conditions are bad, don’t get me wrong, but I wonder how many counties across America struggle without public transportation or adequate access to healthy food even on the sunniest of days.

The data is out there and now The United States Department of Agriculture has created an interactive Food Environment Atlas, mapping those data points including local foods, food insecurity, proximity to grocery stores, food prices, as well as providing information on the general socioeconomic makeup of the community. (http://maps.ers.usda.gov/FoodAtlas/)

I poked around on the atlas, looking at the information it had for my home county back in Ohio. Not surprisingly, Licking County has .804 fast food restaurants for every thousand people. Compare that to .16 grocery stores for every thousand people. Here in Alameda County (my current home) things are a bit better; .25 grocery stores for every thousand people and .765 fast food joints for every thousand people. You can even find the number of people eligible for free lunch programs or participating in the breakfast programs associated with the School Lunch programs, yeah, a lot of people rely on them. For example, monthly participants in the free Breakfast programs for San Francisco total 1,175,999 people. It can tell you the ratio of cost comparing fruits to sugary snacks, low-fat milk to soda pop, etc. It includes information on taxes on various food items. It has percentages of farms with sales directly to consumers. It tells you a lot.

But keep in mind, there are some things the interactive map can’t tell you. It can’t tell you why exercise rates are the way they are. It does not detail how many parks are available or how safe they are. It doesn’t tell you about changes over time or the number of activists working tirelessly to improve these numbers. Statistics are always just a snapshot. Data collection is an important starting point to identify problems and design policy reform. But working on these issues, and convincing others that they are worth restructuring the way we think, behave, produce, and consume will require us to create an equally sensitive and thorough map of qualitative issues. We have to be able to describe the relationship between farmer’s markets and diabetes rates, between Farm to School programs and the large numbers of people who rely nationally administered meals through the Child Nutrition Act. We have to pay attention to how communities benefit when they can produce for themselves, not just in the data points, but in community relationships and  a sense of well being. We have to understand how stigma is created around government assistance in certain programs and not in others (social security is treated as an inalienable right while nutritional assistance programs, despite the name upgrade, are still seen as markers of dependency).

So, check out the map. Then get the stories. Change will require we are familiar with both the data and the narrative. In the end, I defend Slow Food’s goals because it seeks to preserve meaning, the meaning we create when we cook, when we produce, when we share, when we know. I feel Slow Food seeks what Wendell Berry describes as pleasure based not on ignorance but knowledge. And therefore, my challenge is crafted not just with numbers and ratios, but with stories and recipes.