Special events & announcements
Food from the Heart ~ today!
Today, February 8, the Ferry Building's fifth annual Food from the Heart festival kicks off with a benefit for Slow Food from 5:00 to 8:00 pm. The public is invited to stroll the candlelit Grand Nave where the merchants and restaurateurs of the Marketplace will offer seasonal hors d'oeuvres and Slow Food will pour wine from several wine bars. CUESA will set up an informational table. Click here to learn more >
Speaker Pelosi, have a heart!
At noon on February 13, the day before Valentine's Day, the California Food & Justice Coalition will be calling on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to have a heart and support a Fair and Healthy Food and Farm Bill. We need a Farm Bill that invests our tax dollars into creating a sustainable, healthy, community-driven and just food system. Take a brown bag lunch and join the festivities at the Civic Center Farmers' Market. Click here to learn more>
Agriculture in a Warmer World ~ February 28
What will happen to local farms as the effects of climate change become more pronounced, and what will it mean for Bay Area consumers? How will climate change impact food supply, food distribution, and food security around the world? Join CUESA on Thursday, February 28, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm as two researchers present their perspectives on these questions. Click here for more information >
Saturday, February 9 ~ Market to Table
10:30 am ~ Farmhouse cooks
Eric Tucker of Millennium Restaurant and David Little of Little Organic Farm will speak about their relationship as chef and farmer. Then, Eric will join David in preparing some of David's own recipes from the farm, using the many varieties of potatoes that he grows in Marin County.
11:15 am ~ Seasonal cooking demonstration & book signing
Eric Tucker of Millennium and author of The Artful Vegan and the Millennium Cookbook will prepare two dishes, one with a Valentine's theme in honor of the Food from the Heart festival happening at the Ferry Building.
Saturday, February 16 ~ Market to Table
10:30 am ~ Meet the farmer
Kristie Knoll of Knoll Farms
11:00 am ~ Seasonal cooking demonstration
Erica Holland-Toll of Lark Creek Inn
Every January, the CUESA staff looks forward to heading down to the Ecological Farming Conference in Pacific Grove. The 2008 meeting of farmers, activists, researchers, educators and others, put on by the Ecological Farming Association, was as inspiring and informative as ever. We came home with our heads full of new information to ponder.
Said CUESA staff member Christine Farren of the event, “Yes, there were grim forecasts about the state of food, but these were mixed with lots of hopeful optimism about what is working, and why organic and sustainable agriculture matter and are making a difference. With the poor report on the planet and the promise of change through a better food system came a very strong sense of urgency. Those of us in this movement have an imperative to stay focused, stay motivated, and continue to educate and impassion the public.”
Here are brief summaries of a few of the many sessions we attended:
A bright future for our farms and our food?
There is now plenty of scientific proof that ecological farming is viable and productive, and that conventional farming is dangerous to the land and our health. Fred Kirschenmann of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University spoke about two presumptions upon which industrial agriculture is based: that there are unlimited resources to fund and fuel growth and that there are unlimited sinks to absorb the waste from this process. As we know, neither of these presumptions is true, and any food system predicated upon them will eventually collapse. Dr. Kirschenman calls for a paradigm shift in agriculture. But to move on from the industrial norm will require drastic change. It is human nature to resist change, especially when we feel we will be asked to give up something. In order to achieve the needed changes, he asserts, we must imagine a future that is even better than the present.
Is there a pollination crisis?
Colony Collapse Disorder has entered the popular lexicon this year with countless news stories about the mysterious disappearance of honeybees. Researchers Eric Mussen from UC Davis and Mace Vaughan from the Xerces Society gave their perspectives on whether or not honeybee decline has led to a pollination crisis for the more than 30% of our food crops that require insects to transfer their pollen. Dr. Mussen gave some history on vanishing bees and pointed out that this phenomenon might not be as novel as the media has made it seem. He also addressed the various hypotheses that have been put forth as to why colonies are collapsing, and spoke about what he believes is the main cause of collapse: malnutrition. Mace Vaughan talked about the thousands of pollinators that are native to the United States, and the factors that have led to their decline. He also talked about how farms can encourage native bees by setting aside uncultivated land. Both researchers warned about the possibility of a future crisis, but said that they don’t believe we are in a serious pollination predicament yet.
Is environmental protection at odds with food safety?
After the spinach E. coli outbreaks of 2006, a conflict between environmental protection and food safety arose. There’s no decisive information about the best agriculture practices to avoid E. coli contamination in leafy greens, but many of the proposed solutions and buyer regulations are expensive, impractical and contrary to environmental values. A survey of Monterey County farmers by the Resource Conservation Distict revealed that "buyers, auditors or others had suggested to [farmers] to either discourage and/or eliminate the presence of non-crop vegetation, waterbodies, and wildlife around fields. In many cases growers had lost points on their food safety audits, the basis for which their crop is approved and purchased, due to the presence of non-crop vegetation, waterbodies, and wildlife near their crops." When environmental practices are pitted against food safety, what are ecological farms to do? And does removing wildlife make food more, or less, safe?
The roots of food quality
The number of studies on nutrition in produce has exploded! There is a real interest especially in the nutrition of organic vs. conventional produce. These studies are extremely hard to do because no farm is typical--each is unique. Alyson Mitchell, a researcher at UC Davis, talked about a recent study that measured plant compounds like flavonoids and carotenoids (linked to numerous human health benefits) in tomatoes. A three-year study showed that flavonoids were 10 to 30 percent higher in organic tomatoes than in conventional ones, though the levels varied greatly from year to year. Researchers hypothesize that pest pressure, which is higher in organic systems, increases these compounds in plants because plants use them as a natural defense. A test on commercial tomato sauces showed no difference in conventional vs. organic (possibly due to the decrease in nutrients associated with heating, storing, and reheating tomatoes).
Some other interesting tidbits from the conference:
We currently operate on a “yoyo” economy: you’re on your own. We could operate on a “wait” economy: we’re all in this together.
Out of 80,000 farmers in California, only about 400 are African American.
–Will Scott, President of the African American Farmers of California
Two out of three Americans recognize the organic symbol and see it as an added value that they’d like to purchase.
–Bill Wolf, Wolf, DiMatteo and Associates
US cattle produce 10 times more excrement than US humans.
–Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation
74% of Americans don’t know GMO foods are sold at the supermarket.
One of our major illusions is that we can come up with a prescription for sustainability. Jared Diamond observed that civilizations that correctly assess the situation, anticipate changes, and get a head start are the ones that survive. This is what sustainability is.
“You are not a consumer, you are a creator.”
–Cesar Chavez, as quoted by Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety
We never treat things we care about with competition or efficiency. Why do we operate our food system this way? We need to manage our food system based on the values of empathy and love.
“Progress” is an incomplete sentence. Progress towards what?
CDs of all the sessions at the 2008 Ecological Farming Conference can be ordered through the Ecological Farming Association's website: www.eco-farm.org/efc_08/
This is the most up-to-date information about which sellers will and won't be attending the market as of Friday, when we send this letter. If there are no changes to a seller's status, they will not be listed. To find out which farmers regularly attend each market, click here. Please understand that there are often last-minute changes--it's the nature of farming!
> Saint Benoit Yogurt was featured in Fine Cooking Magazine! Click here to download a PDF of the article.
> La Cocina, the San Francisco based non-profit community kitchen for food entrepreneurs, is celebrating their first year anniversary at the Saturday Market! They invite you to stop by and join them in their celebration. There will be discounts, special offers and tastings on exciting new products. You can find them on the south side of the Ferry building between Fatted Calf and Prather Ranch.
Saturday, February 9
In/returning: Juniper Ridge, Bruins Farms, Bernard Ranches, June Taylor Company, Niman Ranch, Fatted Calf
Out: Short Night Farm
Tuesday, February 12
Seasonality synopsis for February
Returning this month:
Hot house tomatoes
Nettles, leafy greens, chicories, crucifers, carrots, tulips, Narcisscus, mushrooms, Meyer lemons, fresh herbs, leeks, grapefruit, kumquats, fennel, leeks, eggs, beef, goat, lamb, and pork
Winding down/limited supply:
Mandarins, pomelos, winter squash, kiwi, persimmons
Recipes for February
Wild Nettle & Green Garlic Soup with Smoked Almonds & Olio Nuovo from James Ormsby, formerly of Jack Falstaff & Plump Jack Café
Asparagus Frittata from Jessica Prentice of Three Stone Hearth and author of Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection
Winter Chicory Salad from Patrick Clark of Sutro’s Restaurant at the Cliff House
Sautéed White Beans with Greens from Heidi Swanson, author of Supernatural Cooking