slow food


What it means to think about food

I recently heard an interview of an author who's written a book called "where locavores get it wrong...".  His basic thesis is that for someone who is concerned with the carbon footprint of their food, local is often not the right choice. It often is of course, but sometimes it makes more sense to import snap peas from Uganda than it does to walk down to the farmers market.  I guess this is true. I imagine the man did his research, as he was being interviewed on a show I trust, so I'm going to  take it as a given that he's not lying. So that begs the question...why eat local?  If we can get snap peas year round from disparate corners of the globe, always snappy and fresh (or at least fresh-ish), and at the same time reduce our carbon footprint, why all this talk of eating local? The answer that I've come to (full disclosure, Michael Pollan was also on the show, and he had a similar idea to the one I'm about to espouse, but I swear I thought it before he said it on the show) is that local food is about more than food. Wild food is about more than food.  People love wild foods, they're clearly delicious, often more nutritious (and I believe if the author had done his research on foraged foods he would have found they are much more carbon efficient, but put that aside for a second), but I'm not sure that's the main reason people love them. To me wild food is almost more about the connection to the place I live. I've lived in San Francisco for two years now (just had my anniversary), and I feel more a part of this place that almost anywhere else on earth.  I've explored more of the Bay than I have in VT, and I grew up there. I meet people every day that are interested in what I'm doing, and want to be involved. I know that a week after the first rains I'm going to mushroom forage, I know who I'm going with, I know what I will (or should) find. I'm honestly looking forward to going up to Mendecino next week to collect acorns, and making plans for the best way to get to the wild onions before the landscapers get them next spring. I feel a part of this place, and that has all sprung from my interest in the foods of this place.  I throw dinners that have become some of the most memorable meals of my life. I know chefs all over the city, and always know if I have a question about the food business I can ask Ian at Far West Fungi.  The people I call friends are the people who are actively working towards changing the way America eats. Creative people who, through their creativity, inspire people to see the world in a different way.

Local food is about much more it's carbon footprint. That's important of course, but what the local food movement is really about goes beyond the eating. It goes to a connection with the place you live, and the people that make that place important. When you buy a mushroom from a forager (or a farmer), you support that person, their community, expand your own community, and get to know the place you call home just a little bit better.


forageSF and the Eat Real Fest

ForageSF is teaming up with the Eat Real festival to organize a series of guided forages, a wild food dinner with Radio Afrika to benefit La Cucina, as well as a foraging identification/canning exchange in Jack London square. There will be two sets of walks, one sometime in early August that will end in a dinner focused on wild foraged food.  Walk around the city learning what plants are edible, then get to eat a delicious meal made with those very same plants. The second set will be on Friday August 28th.  We’ll all go out, forage around for a couple hours, then meet in Jack London square to identify/exchange/can what we found.  I’ll also be giving a talk on forageSF, and wild food in general.  Should be a good time.  This is all still in planning, but check out in a couple weeks for more info.



ForageSF had its first public appearance on jan 6. At YBCA I was a panelist for the Slow Food/OPEN restaurant event.  It was a cool experience.  Getting to sit around a table made out of compost with 11 other people who do things that I find incredibly interesting. Met some good people, saw some people I already knew.  The structure of the event was that a table of 12 panelists sat around the aforementioned compost table.   People from the SFbay food community, Slow Food, Forage Oakland, Chez Panisse, etc.  The table was made of compost (really cool idea, people came up through the meal and put compost into seed planters that were given out with the meal), and the concept was that people from the public (who were all sitting at tables around the perimeter of the room), would come up and talk to us if they had questions about what we did.  I personally think people were a bit confused by the format. What OPEN was trying to do was reorganize the traditional panel (microphones, discussion topics), into a more organic situation.  People coming together to talk about food in a common environment of interest. I thought it was great.


forage forage

So foragesf had one of its first community forages saturday!  There were only three of us, Iso (me), Shelia Hernandez, and one new forager, Moe Beitiks, who's pictured below holding some fresh mushrooms. We went up to china camp, this great park in the north bay.  It used to be an old chinese shrimping village until they were forced out by racist laws in the 1800's, allowed to return, and are currently being forced out again by global warming.  Got the last bit of fact from this old chinese women who runs a store in the village.  A cool little place with about 3 budweisers and some instant coffee.  We were hoping to find a boatload (get it....shrimp....boat)[gallery] of chanterelles, but for some reason only found boletes and some yet unidentified fungus.  Seemed like someone had already been there, although we were pretty early.

I'm in the midst of planning a foragesf fundraiser. music, food, drinks, mostly wild, mostly homemade, with Asiya of Forage Oakland. Thinking 18 reasons, Bi-Rites new art space on Guerrero seems like a good spot, but need to go down and talk to them.  I'm still learning how to use this here internet machine website wordpress, so all the pics I've taken are rather haphazardly placed.  Until next time.


moe w/shrooms

p.s.  pics above include will Schrom, from a previous hunt.