Special Events & Announcements
Tantalizing Market Tapas Classes ~ Wednesdays, March 24 - April 21CUESA and Parties That Cook present a series of hands-on cooking classes focusing on seasonal tapas with an international flair. The two-hour classes will take place in our teaching kitchen on three Wednesday nights this spring (March 24, April 7 and April 21). Classes are $75 per person. Recipes include spring lamb skewers with mint-pistachio pesto (pictured); Meyer lemon bars with a shortbread crust; and puree of fava, sweet pea, and mascarpone with garlicky pita chips. Preview all three menus and register.
Diet For a Hot Planet: A Book Talk And Reception With Anna Lappé ~ April 10
Climate change is coming, and our food is implicated. Anna Lappé’s latest book has a simple message: if we are serious about addressing climate change, we have to talk about food. Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do About It voices the dreams, tales, and warnings of the farmers and eaters at the front lines of the battle to keep the planet cool and explores the potential for sustainable agriculture to mitigate climate change. Mei Ling Hui, SF’s Urban Forest Coordinator, will introduce Anna by speaking briefly about the City's sustainable food policies and efforts to address climate change. Come hear more about this important and timely work, and find out how your food choices make a difference. Learn more or buy tickets.
Butchery Class Series ~ March 18, March 25 and April 1
CUESA and Urban Kitchen SF are teaming up to present a three-part butchery series with David "The Butcher" Budworth. The first class — chicken butchery — is almost sold out. Tickets are now on sale for the lamb class on March 25 and the goat class on April 1. All three classes will also be focused on knife skills. Learn more.
California Culinary Academy Farmer Series ~ March 24
Thanks to a recent collaboration with CUESA, the California Culinary Academy (CCA) is hosting a series of farmer lunches and dinners in the student restaurant, Carême 350. The prix fixe meals mark the culmination of each class' culinary education and will feature ingredients grown by a local farmer. The next event, on Wednesday, March 24, includes lunch from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm or dinner from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, and will feature the latest bean variety from Rancho Gordo. Reservations available through Open Table. Read a recent article about the event.
Celebrate Cesar Chavez Day at the Railroad Museum in Sacramento ~ March 27
In conjunction with an exhibition of “The Migrant Project,” a series of photographs of migrant laborers by Rick Nahmias, the California Institute of Rural Studies is hosting a fair food panel and screening of Fair Food: Field to Table. Along with Nahmias, the panel will include Noe Hernandez of Zocalo Restaurant, Paul Cultrera of Sacramento Natural Foods Coop, and Paul Muller of Full Belly Farm. Learn more about the panel here or the photo exhibit here.
Work For CUESA Through JOBS NOW
CUESA is now hiring a part-time Market & Event Assistant and a part-time Administrative Assistant through the special stimulus funding for San Francisco County's Jobs Now! program. To be eligible, applicants must be: a San Francisco resident, have a child under the age of 18, and unemployed or qualify as low income. Learn about the positions on the CUESA website or visit the JOBS NOW site to apply.
Programs At The Market
Saturday, March 13 ~ Market to Table
11:00 am - Seasonal baking demonstration and book signing
Michael Kalanty, Author of How to Bake Bread. Michael will bake with wheat from Eatwell Farm and Eatwell's Nigel Walker will join him in the kitchen to talk about the crop.
11:45 am - State of the Market Talk
CUESA's Director of Operations, Dexter Carmichael, will discuss upcoming seasonal changes in the market and share the highlights of his recent farm visits in southern California.
Tuesday, March 16 ~ Special Tuesday Demo
12:30 - 1:30 pm - Special cooking demonstration and book signing
Daisy Martinez, Author of Daisy: Morning, Noon and Night: Bringing Your Family Together with Everyday Latin Dishes
Saturday, March 20 ~ Asparagus Festival
10 am - 1 pm - The CUESA kitchen team will sell open-faced grilled asparagus sandwiches with fresh goat cheese on Acme bread for a $1 donation. While you're in the kitchen, visit the Asparagus Education Booth to learn all about how this early spring vegetable is grown.
11:00 am - Asparagus cooking demonstration
Peter Rudolph, Madera Restaurant at the Rosewood Sand Hill
11:45 am - Asparagus cooking demonstration
David Bazirgan, Chez Papa Resto
Out to Pasture
At first glance, the recent Access to Pasture ruling from the United Stated Department of Agriculture (USDA) can be boiled down to a few simple ideas: cows (and other ruminant animals) on organic farms should eat grass; the best place to do this is on a pasture, unless the weather doesn’t allow it, in which case their diets should still include a good portion of dried grass. On the other hand, because the ruling is meant to apply to both dairy and livestock producers, the outcome is considerably more complex than it sounds.
The national organic standards have always required that organic dairy and beef animals be provided with “access to pasture.” What that means, exactly, has been up for interpretation. The rule did not specify how often or for how long they had access, nor did it specify what percentage of their food had to come from pasture. Now, ruminant animals on organic farms must be on pasture for least 120 days (although not necessarily continuous) a year. The rest of the time, at least 30 percent of their diet must come from “dry matter” — grass that is dried and fed to cows in the winter — rather than grain-based feed.
Doing the Math
Once home to over 350 dairies, Sonoma and West Marin now have fewer than 50 working dairies. Today, thanks in part to the Access to Pasture ruling, people like Mark Chass say they're cautiously optimistic about the future of small-scale organic dairy production in the area. Chass worked for years as an inspector and organic certifier, but was recently hired on as the organic standards expert at Spring Hill Jersey Cheese, a company that milks it's own herd of cows to produce organic cheese and butter. From what he's seen, Mark says, "West Sonoma County dairies shouldn’t have any problem complying with the new ruling."
Organic milk and cheese producers will, however, have a lot more work to do. At the crux of the challenge is the area’s Mediterranean climate, which allows for several windows of green high-nutrition pasture throughout the year, but requires a distinct strategy for grazing rotation and adequate space for growing dry matter. Fresh grass is almost 90 percent water, so farmers will have to grow enough to constitute the required 30 percent. In addition to planning, this will also mean more paperwork and, in some cases, the need to hire consultants and experts.
“In the summer, the air is dry, the sun is out, and the grass is usually too dry for grazing,” says Chass. During the winter, when it's rainy, dairies have to keep the cows indoors so their manure doesn’t impact the local area’s watershed. Fulfilling the 120-day rule, according to Chass, will mean putting the cows out to pasture for around a month in the fall, and two to three months in the spring. Because it’s a national rule, he adds, “they had to come up with a figure that would work for Sonoma County, Vermont, and everywhere else in between. The result isn’t perfect, but it’s doable.”
Although the ruling is new, it is the product of a decade-long process and a great deal of lobbying by small farmers; most Sonoma and Marin dairy farmers have known this shift was on its way for a while. And because of the need to grow dry matter, while adequately grazing dairy cows, Chass says some farms have had to downsize their herds or increase their pasture sizes. It’s not an ideal time for any small business to be sacrificing quantity for quality, but many hope the ruling will give the $24.6 billion organic milk industry more integrity and small producers a better chance at success.
David Evans of Marin Sun Farms agrees that there is value in the ruling. He says, “I hope that it rebuilds the market for small dairies – a market that got saturated because the rules weren’t good enough.” Sadly, he also points out that a similar scenario is unlikely in the livestock arena because the new ruling includes a loophole that will most likely still allow organic beef cattle to be “finished” or fed grain for four months before slaughter, as well as an exemption to the 30% dry matter rule.* Meat cattle must still technically have “access to pasture,” but most organic advocates agree that the statement is essentially meaningless without a required number of days.
“The majority of the public who are buying organic meat don’t think of the cows spending their last four months standing in a feedlot," says Evans. "Some feedlots are better than others, but all in all it’s the same principle.”
Evans doesn’t think the political will exists at the moment to move the majority of organic beef production away from the feedlot model. This is just one reason he hasn’t moved Marin Sun Farms toward organic certification; he just doesn’t think the rules are stringent enough. Meanwhile, his cows are outside, eating grass all year round. “I understand the difficulty in this because they’re trying to set a one-size–fits-all rule,” he says, “but to me, animals on pasture is just a given."
* The ruling was passed with a 60-day comment period built in for livestock finishing. You still have a few weeks to submit a comment.
This is the most up-to-date information about which sellers will be attending the market as of Friday. If there are no changes to a seller's status, they will not be listed. You'll find a list of which farmers regularly attend each market here. Please understand that there are often last-minute changes—it's the nature of farming!
Saturday, March 6Returning: Apple Farm
Out: Ridgecut Gristmills, Swanton Berry Farm
Tuesday, March 9
Thursday, March 11
Returning: County Line Harvest
Seasonality Synopsis for March
Returning or plentiful this month: Fennel, pea greens, raw olives, English peas, lilacs, fava beans, hyacinth, parrot tulips, rhubarb, spinach, asparagus, avocados, green garlic, spring onions, nettles, broccoli, rapini greens, artichokes, baby turnips, carrots, fresh goat cheeses, goat meat, pastured eggs, plant starts and maybe strawberries
Winding down/limited supply: kiwi, Brussels sprouts, cherimoyas, shallots, some citrus varieties like Cara Cara oranges and satsumas
Farms that will be returning this month (weather willing): Bodega & Yerba Santa Goat Cheese, White Crane Springs Ranch, Madison Growers, The Peach Farm (with lilacs!), Happy Quail Farms
Featured recipes for March
Shaved Fennel and Pistachio Salad from Aïda Mollenkamp, formerly of CHOW
Spring Greens Puree with Homemade Sourdough Crackers from Jessica Prentice, Wise Food Ways
Asparagus Breakfast Pudding with Green Garlic and Fontina from Bibby Gignilliat, Parties that Cook
Radish Green Soup from Sarah Henkin, CUESA's market chef