business

thoughts

Menus and Offices

Big day today. I just signed a lease on my first office.  Never thought I'd be so excited to have one, but there is something to be said for moving out of cafes, and into a space that is yours. Things tend to get lost when you dont have a central place.  Also signing the lease on my apartment in the Haight tonight! Spending most of the rest of the day planning my menu for the next wild kitchen in April.  Just looked at the weather, and its supposed to be a nice month, but it will also have cold nights (as always in SF), so Im going for a mix of hearty warming dishes, and light spring fare. Iso

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What I learned today

One day a week I try to do nothing but learn new things. It's a nice break from answering emails, foraging, thinking of new projects, and all the other random things that fill my days. It's supposed to be on Wednesday, but seeing as how I spent all yesterday staring into the bottomless snakepit of bureaucracy known as the DMV, this weeks learning day is a thursday. This is what I learned.... Cooks Illustrated:

- Several common foods, when cooked, impart a umami, (or 5th taste) to foods. This effect is reached by their high levels of glutamate.

-some common foods are

-mushrooms

-tomato

-salted pork

-Anchovies contain a chemical known as inosinate

-inosinate, when added to glutamate rich foods (like a beef stew with tomato), increases the glutamate flavor by as much as 15 fold

Saveur:

-Pork is cured in one of two ways, wet or dry cured

-Dry cured pork

-rubbed with salt, then aged from 24-50 days

-the salt acts through osmosis to draw the moisture out of the low salinity enviroment of the meat, towards its high salinity exterior

-the meat loses between 18-36% of its weight during this step

-the meat is then rinsed off, and left to age in an environment between 40-50 degrees farenheit

-during this step, the remaining salt works its way into the meat, breaking down the proteins to create , amino acids such as glutamate, giving the finished product the flavors we find in cured meats such as prosciutto

-eating cured me raw it is a fairly recent development which came about with more standardized pig breeding practices, which help to ensure freedom from disease in the meat.

-Wet cured meat

-this process came into fashion with the invention of refrigeration

-refrigeration allows meat to hold that is not fully cured

-the meat is either brined (soaked in salt water), or injected with a brine solution to give it the flavor of dry cured

-this method is cheaper and faster, but with mediocre results

LLC or Corporation:

-Sole proprietorship

-must file a schedule C, as well as a 1040

-taxes are "passed through" to the owner

-"passing through" is the term used when income from a business is taxed at the personal rate of the owner. This is contrasted with corporate tax, which is much lower, but can only be claimed with corporate status

-LLC

-Created specifically to give small business owners the benefits of incorporation

-Owners still pay "pass through" taxes

-Gives the owners the limited liability benefits of a corporation without the restrictions of a C or S corp

-these liability benefits protect the owner of an LLC from lawsuits arising from debt or injury incurred when carrying out corporate business

-Can form with one or more owners

-Must still file schedule C, as well as 1040 personal income form

-To create, must file "articles of organization" with state

-Should also file LLC operating agreement

-this form governs how profits are distributed throughout the LLC

Corporation:

-Separate legal entity from its owners

-Pays its own taxes, which are separate from the owners/shareholders of the corp.

-two types

-C corp

-basic corporation

-S corp

-historically this is what a small business owner would create to gain the benefits of incorporation, but it as fallen out of favor with the invention of the LLC

-Corporation can be created with one or more owners

-Corporate taxes are significantly lower than personal taxes

-15% up to $50,000

-25% up to $75,000

-Files form 1120 with IRS

-Incorporation brings with it a good deal of responsibility as far as record keeping, so a small organization is often better suited to an LLC

Q: Does the name of the corporation have to be the same as the business?

Limited Liability-

-Corporations and LLC's offer a good deal of liability protection for their owners. Protecting them from lawsuits and debt. There are a few exceptions

-Unpaid taxes

-Unlawful or intentionally fraudulent actions

-Lawyers call this "piercing the corporate veil"

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Why we shouldn't hate on myfarm

Myfarm is done.  I first heard about this fleetingly a couple weeks ago, but no one really knew what happened. Just that they were gone, something about internal problems. Went to their website. nothing. Tried searching around the interwebs, but to no avail.   A couple days ago I got forwarded this blog post with the attached message "let me know if you need any help" from one Fred Bove. Very nice gesture to be sure. As someone who has also recently started a new kind of vegetable delivery service, I have some thoughts on the demise of myfarm, and the surprisingly vitriolic words that are being thrown around concerning this once greatly esteemed business.

Myfarm was started by a couple who had a really great idea. The idea was to put farms in peoples backyards, and with the food grown, feed the city.  To get this idea going, and see if people were interested, they put up 50 flyers around the city. immediately they were deluged with response. The chronicle wrote about them. The NY times wrote about them. They got more response, and ultimately collapsed under the pressure. I volunteered with myfarm a couple times when they were first starting out, but haven't spoken to Trevor in a while, but from what I can tell, they just grew too fast.

1. When I started forageSF, I thought that the best thing that could happen was to have 100 people sign up immediately. I would be able to support myself foraging ( and maybe even start a bit of a savings account). When that didn't happen, I was really disappointed. A couple people signed up, but as I jealously watched myfarm get bigger, my business grew very slowly.  I see now that was the best thing that could have happened. The amount I have learned in the time since the first CSF box went out is amazing. What people want (surprisingly, its less variety of foods rather than more), logistics (how to collect and distribute very perishable food in a two window), customer service (how to not piss people off). These lessons have all been learned without my business eating itself because I've had the luxury of moving relatively slowly . If, as I desired, had 100 people sign up the first month, I probably wouldn't have been been doing what Im doing at this point.

2. I think people had an unreasonable expectation of myfarm (from what the post conveys).  Myfarm was a really good idea. A revolutionary idea, to feed people from urban production. Rather than the cities being vacuums for rural production, we would sustain ourselves, and have nice backyard gardens to boot.  It was such a good idea in fact that people signed up immediatly....I can't think anymore about this at the moment, but I feel for Trevor. He tried to do something really interesting, and put a great idea out into the world, he tried to do something totally unique, so give him a break.

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on design

I've spent a lot of time lately thinking about design.  Website design, logo design, package design, business design.  So much is wrapped up in the design of a product label, so much time agonizing over logo color and package size. So many places to buy bags of different sizes and weights, and so many things to consider...recycleable vs. compostable vs. matte colored (apparently matte colored packaging is neither recyclable or compostable).  What all this really boils down to though is image. What kind of image do I want?  Do I want the slick hipster- pictures of little birds on wires with pastel colors, the hippie - tons of multicolored mushrooms and bubbly font, the minimalist - brown card stock with black block lettering?  Even as I write this I feel a hint of unneeded vanity in my search.  We have this feeling that all these decisions just spring naturally, but the fact of the matter is that they are often arrived at through months of careful deliberation.  Not that its a bad process, its always fun to create something unique. Think about that next time you decide which chocolate to buy (high package design indeed). Think about why you choose a certain one, and why. Is it the taste, or the shiny package, that temps your fancy?  Think about the designers, sitting around a table at some cafe, macbooks at the ready, flicking though color templates, deciding which red is the right red for the 1/2 inch (or should it be 1/3 inch) border that surrounds the vermillion blue (or was aqua better) hand drawn (or at least made to look hand drawn) leaf logo.  There is so much that goes on in business behind the scenes. We all try our best to make it seem effortless, because people are attracted to this confidence, but its a lot of sweat to make anything new, although that's also what makes it fun and inspiring.   Making all these decisions, and knowing that each small success came your work.  It's exciting to think that you are putting something completely unique out into the world.  That what started as a random idea one night while lying in bed has blossomed into a concrete object in the world.  Something people think and talk about.  It's almost like having a child, but so much better, because you have all the freedom of design.  It's amazing really, to think that everything that exists in the world was at one point just an idea in someone's head. p.s. if anyone has any great ideas for forageSF logos etc.., I'm all ears.