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Earth Day 2012: Announcing Bi-Rite’s Food Waste Challenge

“One half of the food prepared in the US and Europe never gets eaten.”–Dive!, the movie

We as a society might waste this much food, but we’re also coming up with good ideas about how not to. Here are just a few ways we’ve already talked about combating the problem:

  • Getting involved with one of the organizations that have cropped up in the past couple of years to solve our country’s waste issues. Halfsies offers restaurant-goers a choice that provides a healthier portion size, reduces food waste, and supports the fight against hunger; Food Shift works with consumers, businesses and communities  to build awareness and close the gaps in food delivery and consumption; and Marin Organic hosts a gleaning program which gathers excess produce from farms and delivers it to public schools, to name a few.

It’s this last point that brings me to the matter at hand today….I’m pleased to announce Bi-Rite’s first Earth Day Food Waste Challenge! Yes, the name could be sexier. But the idea couldn’t, because the point of this challenge is for us all to practice how we as individuals can put a dent in the amount of food that goes to waste. For an issue as complicated and overwhelming as our waste-disposal system and the challenge of feeding everyone who’s hungry, I’m empowered by the ability each of us have to waste less in our own day-to-day.  So how will the challenge work, you ask?

1. We want to hear from you, our community, about what foods you find yourself throwing out most often. First that comes to mind for me is herbs; I’m always challenged to finish the whole bunch (although the “Any Greens Pesto” recipe from Eat Good Food makes it easy!). Tell us in a comment here which foods you can never seem to use up before they go bad.

2. We’ll take the answers we hear most from you, and make those our target foods for our Food Waste Challenge, which will take place at Bi-Rite Market the week leading up to Earth Day (Sunday, April 22nd).

3. During that week, we’ll give you recipe cards for each of the target foods. Each card will have a few different recipes that make use of its featured ingredient. We’ll invite you to email us a photo of any dish you cook from it–I’ll post each photo sent in on our blog.

4. We’ll donate 10% of proceeds from sales of the target foods that week (up to $1,000) to Three Squares,  an organization that works throughout the Bay Area to provide nutrition education and improved access to healthy food in low-income communities. They’re teaching people how to shop for ingredients and cook smartly, and this will help them towards the 600 classes they teach every year!

So without further ado, let’s kick this thing off! Please reply to this post with a comment on what foods you find yourself throwing out most often, so we can help you find creative ways to use them up next month!

I can never resist a good retro poster

 


Raph

Our New Ligurian Style Olive Oil: Another Delicious Product of Befriending Olive Growers!

We’re very fortunate to have the relationships we have with the producers whose food we sell.  It’s even better when you can share your experiences with these producers among friends, guests, and co-workers.  This is what creating community through food is all about.

I’d like to highlight a couple of ongoing projects we have with our olive oil producers, starting with Yvonne Hall from Terra Savia.  Yvonne’s orchard is located in the hills of Sonoma and Mendocino Counties.  She makes a very strong effort to conserve and protect the wildlife and their habitat.  All wildlife is free to roam her land and she uses an irrigation system assisted by wind and solar.  A percentage of Terra Savia’s revenue supports wildlife rescue centers in Mendocino and Sonoma Counties.

Tuscan or Ligurian: So many choices in life!

Did I mention that her team makes incredible olive oil?  They’re responsible for producing our most popular olive oil year in and year out, the Bi-Rite Tuscan Style Olive Oil.  The Tuscan olive varieties used to make this oil include Frantoio, Leccino, Maurino, Moraiolo, and Pendolino.  It has a wonderfully floral aroma.  It’s very fruity, with mild notes of herbs and light touches of spice at the finish.  It’s mellower than our 2010 harvest yet it’s still a perfect every day olive oil.  Olive oil at priced at $19.99 for 1 liter isn’t supposed to taste this good!

Our latest project with Joe Bozzano and his father Jack is also very exciting.  The Bozzano family has been farming in California for more than four generations.  Producing olives and olive oil is nothing new for this clan.  Back in the good old days, they had a small family farm in Liguria where they produced olives and olive oil for their community.  Fifteen year-old Lino Bozzano brought the tradition with him when he arrived in Stockton many many years ago.  In Stockton, it began with tomatoes.  Later the tomatoes were replaced with cherries, before Joe and his father started growing olives and producing olive oil.  It’s amazing how the Bozzano farm has come full circle.

It’s funny because the 2012 project we just completed with Joe and Jack is a Ligurian-style olive oil.  It’s made in a small batch production with 100% organic Taggiasca Olives at their ranch in Stockton, CA.  The Taggiasca olive is the most common cultivar in Liguria.  This oil is mild and delicate, similar to a French olive oil.  Despite the fact that it’s mild and delicate, it’s a very fun oil.  It has notes of fresh almonds and ripe fruit on the palate to go along with its sweet buttery finish.  It pairs perfectly with fish and vegetable dishes.  It’s also wonderful to use when making mayonnaise and pesto, which is a Ligurian specialty.  It’s priced at $17.99 per 500 ml bottle, half the cost of most French olive oils.  Enjoy!


Mother’s Day Menu + Wine Suggestions

Available Saturday May 12th and Sunday May 13th

Printable Mother’s Day Menu

From the Kitchen

Quiche Lorraine (six-inch) $10.99/each Serves 2
With Gruyere and House-made Bacon

Poached Prawns$24.99/lb
With Eddy’s cocktail sauce

Herbed Potato Salad$5.99/lb
Baby potatoes, fine herbes, Dijon vinaigrette

Roasted Beet, Feta and Shaved Red Onion Salad $7.99/lb
Red beets, Bulgarian feta, lemon vinaigrette

Seasonal Fruit Salad $5.99/lb
includes Berries, Pineapple, Cantaloupe, Mango

Grilled Asparagus with Shaved Manchego and Marcona Almonds $10.99/lb

Fresh Dungeness Crab Meat $34.99/lb

Printable Mother’s Day Menu

For a perfect toast for Mom, try one of Trac’s suggestions:

Celine & Laurent Tripoz Fleur d’Aligoté 2008 $19.99 – Fleur is French for flowers and what better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than with a “bouquet” of sparkling Aligoté, a white grape from Burgundy. This sparkling is delicious, with fresh butter aromatics along with lily and ham notes. It has flavors of lemon-curd and great bubble structures. A fresh and vibrant wine, Fleur de’Aligoté will make your mom sparkle with joy!

Maison Lillet Lillet Rosé $19.99 – For the first time in 50 years, we have a new Lillet and it’s pink! Lightly sweet and herbacious, Lillet Rosé is fabulous mixed with sparkling water or on the rocks.


Kiko’s Food News 3.9.12

Food can’t escape politics, as some members of the Park Slope Food Co-Op are calling for a boycott of Israeli-made foods, butting heads with the anti-boycott “More Hummus Please” group of pro-Israel members: (full story)

“I’d turn vegan for you”, “I think we’d grow a great organic garden together”, and other fool-proof lines for hitting on a foodie: (full story)

Wal-Mart has announced plans to open 13 smaller-format “Neighborhood Market” stores in California this year and next; averaging 42,000 square feet, these will compete with existing stores already fighting for market share. Wal-Mart has the resources to drive local shops out of business by temporarily undercutting prices, which can result in a net job loss for communities and has caused widespread opposition to their stores across California: (full story)

A new study shows that higher levels of vitamin D–not calcium–are tied to fewer stress fractures in young women; the participants who got lots of vitamin D through their diet and supplements were half as likely to suffer a stress fracture as those who didn’t get much: (full story)

Actor Wendell Pierce of HBO’s “Treme” & “The Wire” has opened Sterling Express, the first in a convenience store chain that will sell fresh produce and salads in addition to the usual chips and sodas; he’ll soon open a grocery store called Sterling Farms, the first of several in New Orleans’s low-income neighborhoods, where supermarkets are scarce: (full story)

A Food Safety News investigation revealed that one-third of America’s honey supply is probably smuggled in from China and could be tainted with the antibiotic Chloramphenicol used by Chinese beekeepers to stave off a bacterial infection that threatened to cripple the country’s honey industry in the late 90s; the drug is outlawed in the U.S.: (full story)


Simon

Si’s March Produce Outlook

The sunny weather has felt nice, but we still need some rain to get us out of this drought!  The dry weather has allowed local farmers to work their soil and get some crops into the ground a bit early.  Every year, the amazing farmers in the Bay Area surprise me with how early they start harvesting  spring crops.  The lack of rain and really cold winter nights give a lot of the crops the opportunity to grow faster

Veggie Time

Full Belly Farm in Yolo County is fully taking advantage of these sunny days and harvesting their big three spring crops!  Green garlic in early March always gets the local cooks fired up and ready to start substituting the cured garlic heads available throughout the rest of the year with some milder-flavored green garlic.  This is always one of the first local spring veggies in the Bay Area.  Spring onions have also been beautiful this year and are the perfect alternative to green onions coming from larger farms in So Cal and Mexico.  Last but not least, Asparagus is just starting to pop!  For the next couple months we will be celebrating the season with Full Belly’s extra flavorful grass.  This is also the beginning of Full Belly’s fresh-cut flower season–the tulips have been big and bright.

We love to offer unique specialty crops during this time of year.  Most of these veggies are hard to find anywhere but in your backyard garden or at a farmers market, and couple of them only grow in the wild.  Ramps are a wild harvested allium with a very strong and distinct flavor; as they don’t grow on the west coast, the ones we buy are from the mid-west and usually starting growing as the snow is melting off.  Fiddlehead Ferns are the furled frond of a young fern, wild picked in Oregon in late March through April.  Fiddleheads have antioxidant activity, are a source of Omega 3 and Omega 6, and are high in iron and fiber.  They should always be washed and cooked before eating.  We also have tender Fava Greens that are so yummy just added to a spring lettuce salad or sautéed with some green garlic.

Tomatero and Happy Boy Farm are up to their eyes in cooking greens, and this might be the sweetest they’ve tasted all season.  The Lacinato and Red Russian Kales from Tomatero  are great eaten raw; when you’re cooking them, use the stems which are so tender and sweet.  Right now Happy Boy has gorgeous Rainbow Chard, Rapini Greens (such as Broccoli Raab, a member of the brassica family wiith large leaves and small florets.)  Due to its pungent flavor and versatility it’s used in both Italian and Chinese cuisine.

I can’t forget to mention that Hass Avocado season has started in California, and the oils and flavor get better each week.  Our produce crew carries avocados case by case up the stairs to our office, where they ripen next to the computer server–nothing worse than going to the market to get avos for a sandwich or guacamole and finding they’re hard as a rock!

The drought is happening all the way to Baja and the growers down there are having bumper crops of summer crops like bell pepper and summer squash.  This has led to historical lows in the prices of some of the organic Mexican crops that get shipped to the Bay Area.  We did just start with our first California organic slicer tomato from Wilgenburg Greenhouses in Dinuba, CA.  The flavor is not like mid-summer fruit but we are headed in the right direction.

Citrus, Citrus and Mo’ Citrus

We’ve official entered into the last phase of California citrus season, which lucky for us includes some of the tastiest pieces of citrus all year.  Pixie Tangerines from the mountains of Ojai taste like candy and have no seeds.  This fruit spend a long time ripening on the tree, and the high altitude growing conditions produce ridiculous flavor.  Other varieties to look for are Gold Nugget Tangerines, Murcott Mandarins, Shasta Gold Tangerines and the new kid on the block the Sumo Citrus. Since all apples and pears are coming out of storage, these late season varieties are the freshest fruit available.

We are already getting asked for Rhubarb and this is partly because we have strawberries before Spring has really sprung.  Conventional rhubarb is out there but we’ll wait for the nice organic Rhubarb from Washington in the end of April. No reason to rush into rhubarb until the strawberries are better quality!

 

 

 


Linh

St. Patrick’s Day Menu 2012

Available Wednesday March 14th through Saturday March 17th

Printable Menu: St. Patrick’s Day 2012 (pdf)

From our Deli

Mustard and Dill Baked Salmon Filet $9.99 / each

Irish Grass-Fed Lamb Stew $9.99 / lb

Our Own Ready-to-Serve Five Dot Ranch Corned Beef Brisket $14.99 / lb

Beef and Guinness Pie $7.99 /each

Colcannon Mashed Potatoes with Cabbage and Leeks $5.99 / lb

Traditional Boiled Vegetables $4.99 / lb

 

From our Butcher

House-cured Five Dot Corned Beef Brisket $ 7.99 / lb

 

From our Bakeshop

Irish Soda Bread $ 5.99 / each

Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheesecake $12.99/ each


Community Jam: Calling our Guests to Support INNA’s Growth

We like to geek out on a lot of things here at Bi-Rite, and one of them is enlisting the support of one group in our community for another. I want to share with you an opportunity for our guests (and entire Bi-Rite community) to pitch in on a campaign to ensure that one of our producers, INNA Jam, is able to make delicious jams for years to come.

One of my favorite producers to work with as a grocery buyer here is Dafna Kory, who founded INNA Jam. She and I met two years ago, right when I started at Bi-Rite, and I knew immediately that her jams would be a success in our store, as she works along many of the same principles that we do. She sources all of her organic fruit from within 100 miles of her home base in Berkeley, she creates only single varietal jams in order to celebrate the unique flavors of rare fruit, and she delivers them in person (often on bike). You’ll often see her in front of Bi-Rite sampling her jams to our guests, or volunteering at 18 Reasons, or teaching jamming classes around the Mission.

INNA Jam has grown tremendously in the past two years, and Dafna has finally made the huge leap to move into her own kitchen! As you can imagine, this is an exciting, daunting, and expensive venture, and Dafna is asking for support through a kickstarter campaign. Check out Dafna’s informative video about the campaign–I’m sure you’ll be convinced to contribute towards her kitchen!

I’d like to call on our guests to help fund her cause, which I feel so strongly benefits our community: if she raises her goal of $25,000, Dafna will be able to work with more local farmers, provide more jobs in the food industry, and produce more of her incredible jams (I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was bummed that her apricot jam lasted only a few weeks this year!).

The crazy thing is that this project will only be funded if at least $25,000 is pledged by Tuesday Mar 20, 6:00pm EDT. As of me writing this, she’s raised $11,257–almost halfway there. Please join us in pushing her over the hump!


Simon

Taste Like Candy

Starring...Mollie & the Pixies!

Extra-sweet Pixie tangerines are pale orange in color, moderately juicy, and always seedless.  They were developed at UC Riverside in 1927, the result of the open-pollination of Kincy mandarins.  The Pixie has been around since the mid-60s, when they were released by the breeders.  They are a late season citrus variety, ripening in March (whereas others, like the Satsuma, ripen in December).

Due to their small size and late ripening, they’ve never been a big hit on the commercial scene.  However, a group of growers in the mountains of Ojai (a few hours’ drive south of us) discovered the fruit and have been working together to cooperatively distribute them throughout California.  Over the past seven years the Pixie has been a staff and guest favorite here at Bi-Rite–kids seem to like them too!

Just when you thought citrus season couldn’t get any more exciting, Pixies have arrived on our shelves–come in and ask for a taste!


Kiko’s Food News: 3.2.12

A New York federal court dismissed the lawsuit against agribusiness giant Monsanto brought by thousands of certified organic farmers, ruining their hopes that the suit would protect them against infringing on the company’s crop patents in the future: (full story)

I’ve added a new book to my “to-read” list: Tracie McMillan’s The American Way of Eating exposes US food distribution the way Pollan exposed our agricultural system by chronicling her work as a laborer in California’s farm fields, a produce clerk at Walmart, and in the kitchen at Applebee’s: (full story)

A study on fruit and veggie consumption in six low-income, primarily minority neighborhoods in Chicago found that convenience was key among those who eat more produce, and the price of the produce didn’t matter; this furthers the argument that Americans aren’t skipping healthy food because of its cost, but rather because cooking with fresh produce takes a little effort: (full story)

Fresh Direct, NYC’s grocery delivery success story, has grown from a small start-up to almost 2,000 employees and is relocating headquarters to the Bronx to stay within the five boroughs; Mayor Bloomberg makes an argument for how keeping the business local achieves the city’s “number one priority” of job creation, and will benefit NY residents for decades to come: (full story)

Starting this week, raw meat sold at grocery stores must carry a nutrition label with info including calories, protein level, cholesterol, saturated fat, sodium and more: (full story)

A Food Safety News investigation revealed that one-third of America’s honey supply is probably smuggled in from China and could be tainted with the antibiotic Chloramphenicol used by Chinese beekeepers to stave off a bacterial infection that threatened to cripple the country’s honey industry in the late 90s; the drug is outlawed in the U.S.:(full story)