Home Archive by category 'Eat Good Food' (Page 3)

Archive for the ‘Eat Good Food’ Category


Can You Come Up with the Name for Our New Private Label Products?

We thank our lucky stars often that we’re located in San Francisco, where the bounty and diversity of tasty Cali produce is so accessible to us. One of our city’s other advantages is the wealth of creative thinkers here, which is why we’re turning to all of you for our latest conundrum:

What should we name our new line of Bi-Rite private label products??

What should we name our private label line?

This line will include tasty items like:

  • The beef and pork from livestock we’re raising on our farm
  • Pickled veggies we’re making with the help of farmers and preservers in our Gleaning Project 
  • Honey we harvest from our rooftop and Sonoma hives
  • Tomato sauce we make and jar with the late summer harvest so you can taste the sweetness of local growers into the winter

What ties all of these together is that we’re doing them the old fashioned way. Unlike most private label lines, which are almost a case study in outsourcing, our goal is to learn through the process of making each of these foods, and to have an intimacy with all steps and people involved. We want to constantly dig deeper for greater transparency and less waste…and share what we’re learning!

Send us an email by Sunday, July 1st to give us your best shot at a name for this line–the winner will get a sampler box of pickles, preserves and sauces from our Gleaning Project (and see their suggested name printed on Bi-Rite jars for years to come)!


Simon

Diggin’ Deeper: Pigs and Garlic (but not together!) on our Farm

Only in the Bay Area does summer start with cold fog and drizzle.  Luckily the weather has been perfect since May and most of the crops on our farm in Sonoma have taken advantage.  The tomato plants are already 2 ½ feet tall, and the summer squash is starting to produce a lot of fruit.  As the farm grows, we continue to diversify the operation to improve the quality of the land and offer a more complete learning experience for our staff and community members who are involved.

As an extension of our Food Waste Challenge, and furthering our goal of learning what goes into making the food we sell, we’re raising pigs on our farm for the first time! 

Every morning, our produce staff collects a 50 gallon bag of veggie scraps from the Market.  We also have a slop bucket to collect dairy products and bread at expiration–all ingredients for  the perfect pig slop.  Every time anyone drives up to Sonoma, they bring a few buckets of these scraps that would otherwise go into the compost. We’re excited to limit the amount of waste at the store and in turn raise beautiful and healthy animals. The pigs are tended to on a daily basis, and love when Farmer Riley sprays them down with the hose and assists them in building their mud baths.  Since this is our first time raising pigs, we’re not quite sure when they’ll hit that perfect weight to harvest them, but our eight little piggies are growing fast–feeding the pigs is the new favorite activity at the farm!

A picture of patience: our garlic heads drying

Garlic is a crop that takes a lot of help from Bi-Rite staff to harvest and process, but is worth it so we can have something growing in the fields in the middle of the winter when most crops struggle.  It’s usually planted in late Fall and not harvested until 8-9 months later.  In order to plant a garlic crop, all of the bulbs have to be broken into individual cloves and planted 4-6 inches into the ground.  The crop usually needs weeding at least a couple times throughout the season.  When it comes time to harvest, we carefully dig up each bulb and hang them in large bunches to dry out.  When the moisture’s almost gone, the greens and roots are cut off, and the dirty outer layer peeled off each head.

This year I decided to grow our biggest crop of garlic yet, yielding plenty to share with our guests!  We planted the garlic cloves in mid-October and harvested them the 2nd week of June.  Unfortunately, the soil that we planted the garlic in was lacking in nutrients and didn’t produce large heads of garlic, but these lil suckers have large, easy-to-peel cloves, and are extra flavorful!  This was a learning experience for Riley and I, and continues to shine the light on the importance of crop rotation and adding amendments to the soil, whether through cover crops or compost.    We’re cleaning up the garlic right now and it should be in the produce department by July 1st.

One thing we’ve learned is that pigs don’t like eating garlic (or onions, or citrus)…simpler flavors for these guys!

Riley keeping the dirt happy

 


Kiko’s Food News, 4.20.12

I’ll be trolling the food-scape of Korea and Japan for the next few Fridays, so I hope this longer-than-usual digest will sustain you on food news until my return…

Is it a sign that the challenges of our food system have hit a breaking point when academics deem their study worthy of a degree? (full story, NY Times)

An economist applies his strategic approach to eking out the best of what restaurants have to offer; his tips include “beware the beautiful, laughing women “, “order what sounds least appetizing on the menu” and “prefer Pakistani to Indian and prefer Thai to Vietnamese”: (full story, The Atlantic)

Two new studies challenge our beliefs about food deserts, finding that such neighborhoods actually have more grocery stores and restaurants than others (did they look at the quality of fresh food available in these stores?); they also found no relationship between the type of food sold in a neighborhood and obesity among its children: (full story, NY Times)

At least New York City’s authorities believe certain areas are in desperate need of fresh produce; since 2008 they’ve authorized 1,000 new permits for street vendors who sell only raw fruits and veggies as part of their Green Cart initiative: (full story, NY Times)

A growing “domestic fair trade” movement formally recognizes and rewards farms working to address social justice, and is pushing forward a new “Food Justice Certified” label for farms (such as Swanton Berry Farm in Santa Cruz, whose Chandler Strawberries are so tasty right now!): (full story, Civil Eats)

On the heels of the decision last month by the FDA to allow continued use of the chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) in food packaging, here’s a look at how exposure to BPA and other chemicals through food-contact plastics impacts our health: (full story, Washington Post)

Demand for chicken legs and thigh cuts is climbing as diners tire of white meat, TV cooking shows tout dark meat’s richer flavor, growing exports to foreign markets favor chicken on the bone, and rising US immigrant populations have a preference for dark meat: (full story, Wall Steet Journal)

I’m keeping my eyes on four new SF food businesses by the Flour + Water team–Central Kitchen (which will have a weatherproof back patio with hydroponic heating), Salumeria, Parlour bakery/café and Trick Dog bar–and found this diagram of how the block will be laid out helpful: (full story, Mission Local)

As a sucker for a dinner party, I have yet to try one of the online dinner party planning sites; the newest one acts as an organizer for a gathering–a place to list the menu, invite guests, and offset costs by adding a “chip-in” price: (full story, Tasting Table)

 


Inspiration, Sweetness & Harvest: 18 Reasons’ Summer Farm Tour Series

Yeehaw: 18 Reasons is hitting the road this summer! Rosie and I are excited to introduce our Farm Tour Series. Once a month in June, July and August will we get the chance to meet some of the inspiring farmers we work with at Bi-Rite.

In the first tour with our trusty tour guide Simon Richard (Bi-Rite’s head farmer & produce buyer), we’ll visit two incredibly inspirational farms, Mariquita Farm and Catalan Farm, who each grow and sell an endless variety of gorgeous veggies and fruits throughout the year.  In the second tour we’ll visit Yerena and Tomatero Farms, lip-smacking berry farms that send the message home that organic and local tastes so much better! In the last, but certainly not least August tour we’ll head north to Sonoma and visit Bi-Rite Family Farm and Oak Hill Farm. Lunch is provided by Bi-Rite Market and is included in the ticket price for each tour. We will facilitate carpooling to each farm and will reimburse drivers for the gas that they use.

Ticket price includes lunch, reimbursement for gas for those who drive and the opportunity to meet the amazing farmers that are changing our world.

The Farm Series: Early Summer Inspiration
Saturday, June 30, 9AM-5PM, Ticketed
$40 member price/ $50 general admission
Tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/236886

The Farm Series: Mid-Summer Sweetness
Saturday, July 21, 9AM-5PM, Ticketed
$40 member price/ $50 general admission
Tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/236889

The Farm Series: Late Summer Harvest
Saturday, August 25, 9AM-5PM, Ticketed
$40 member price/ $50 general admission
Tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/236890


Potato, Parsnip and Celery Root Soup: SF Mom takes on Eat Good Food Recipe

San Francisco local Heather Knape moderates our 18 Reasons Food Lit Book Club and writes a blog called Eating Dirt about growing, cooking and eating food with her family. We invited her to try a recipe from Eat Good Food to see how cooking it would fit into her lifestyle as a busy mom and how it went over with the kids! She shared her experience with us:

Spring has sprung, sort of. The snap peas my kids and I planted last year are flowering on the deck, early asparagus is in the market and citrus is reaching its peak for the year. But the time for a dinner celebrating the commencement of bountiful growth hasn’t quite arrived – lamb is good, yet the price of asparagus is still high and there is no rhubarb in sight. About the only harbinger of Spring I can reliably find in good supply is green garlic- though that in itself is a much awaited treat.

Sam’s Potato, Parsnip and Celery Root Soup is an especially good recipe for this anticipatory time of year. It straddles the seasons deliciously, relying on winter holdovers of potato and parsnip as a base, with the brightness of celery root and green garlic to highlight the season. In addition to providing a great opportunity to talk to kids about how garlic matures from a stalk to a bulb, it gives those of us living where greens grow year round a gustatory glimpse into the warming of local soil, like crocus pushing up through the snow in colder climates.

Served with salad this soup makes a great dinner. To entice younger eaters in my house I float tiny meatballs on top; they eat it up. A thermosful also makes a great take-away lunch, both for parents and first graders. Good with homemade croutons, carrot sticks, an apple and a spoon packed alongside.

Potato, Parsnip and Celery Root Soup (adapted from Eat Good Food, p122):
1 T unsalted butter
1 T extra virgin olive oil
2 large leeks, white and light green parts thinly sliced
salt
2 large waxy potatoes, peeled and diced (yukon gold are good)
2 medium parsnips, peeled and diced (or rutabagas or turnips)
1 medium celery root, peeled and diced
2 stalks green garlic, chopped
1 t ground mustard
4 large sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup dry white wine (leave this out if you want to send it to school)
4 cups chicken or veggie broth (homemade or storemade)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup cream
1 T lemon juice
1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat.

2. Add the leeks, 1/2 cup water and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook for 6-8 minutes. The leeks will become translucent, be careful not to let them brown or burn. Add the potatoes, parsnip, celery root and garlic. Cover the pot and let it cook gently for 10 minutes or so, then add the mustard, thyme and bay leaf for a couple more minutes.

3. Add the wine now if you are using it, then cook until it has evaporated.

4. Add the broth, cover the pot partially and increase the heat to medium high. Bring just to a boil, then lower the heat to keep it simmering gently. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour, until the vegetables are starting to break down.

5. To finish, remove and discard the thyme and bay leaf. Then puree the soup, either with an immersion blender, or by letting it cool and then blending it in small batches. Stir in the cream and lemon juice and season to taste with salt. Serve with chives and homemade croutons on top. To make the croutons, cut bread into cubes, then sauté in butter and sprinkle with salt.


Teaching the Eat Good Food Pantry at 18 Reasons

I was out to dinner with a few Bi-Rite friends the other night and the discussion turned to our pantries. We debated which products we stock at home, how we use them, and most importantly, why we choose to purchase particular brands and products over others. We all concluded that we have what some might consider “dream pantries,” filled with multiple oils and vinegars, several types of soy sauce, mustards and salts, and more grains than you’d find in the kitchen at Café Gratitude! I loved hearing which products my coworkers select, and at the end of our debate we concluded that while we might have over-the-top supplies, you don’t need much to have a complete, well-functioning pantry.

I’m thrilled to be leading a two-part pantry stocking class this April, as I’ve tasted through hundreds-maybe thousands-of pantry items while working at Bi-Rite. This lesson will guide you through the basics of building a functioning pantry, plus you’ll learn the back story of WHY I choose the particular products for Bi-Rite and my own pantry and HOW to apply them in flavorful, quick meals. While there are countless resources and lists on creating a well-stocked pantry, in this class you’ll have the unique opportunity to TASTE through the pantry items that I’m highlighting, allowing you to pick your own favorites and determine which items you’re missing from your own stock.

Come to this class if you want to enhance your current pantry with sustainable ingredients, learn about our favorite items on the shelves at Bi-Rite, or strengthen your week-night cooking skills. Regardless of whether you have an empty cabinet or a dream pantry, you’ll learn important skills to keep your stock exciting, delicious, and functional!

Class dates: Mondays April 2nd & 30th, 6:30-9PM
Registration–don’t wait, the class will sell out! www.brownpapertickets.com/event/230709

Eat Good Food teaches us how to select jackpot pantry items, like this page on good quality canned fish!

 


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

 


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!


Kiko’s Food News: 2.24.12

This NY Times article argues that the revival of craft manufacturing isn’t just a fad for hipsters–it’s a refinement of the excesses of our industrial era plus a return to specialization, which is inherent to capitalism: (full story)

I enjoyed reading 7×7’s profile on the CEO of Bon Appétit Management; they operate cafeterias that through 136.5 million meals a year bring the local-sustainable movement to more than 400 venues nationwide: (full story)

Organic food companies are cheering because their potential markets just doubled: the U.S. and the European Union are announcing that they will soon treat each other’s organic standards as equivalent: (full story)

California has introduced a cottage food bill, the California Homemade Food Act, AB 1616; similar to the “cottage food laws” in 31 other US states, it would allow for the sale of non-potentially hazardous foods prepared in a home kitchen: (full story)

Price increases across the North American food industry have turned off shoppers and led to weak sales for some packaged food makers; Kraft, among others, has introduced smaller package sizes with lower price tags to appeal to consumers with limited budgets: (full story)

Check out this Korean artist’s use of funky design to create containers that keep eggs, veggies and other food fresher (and possibly better tasting!) without refrigeration: (full story)


Simon

Diggin’ Deeper: Learning from the Legends and Bringing it Home

At the Eco-Farm Conference

Farmers don’t get much time to relax from their hard work and reflect on the fruits of their labor.  Once the New Year kicks in, seed catalogs start piling up and planning begins for another long growing season.  However, every year in the beginning of February, farmers and other folks in the organic farming world get together to share and celebrate at the Eco-farm Conference in Pacific Grove, CA.

As Bi-Rite’s produce buyers, Matt and I spent a few days at the conference, which takes place at Asilomar, a gorgeous conference center on the edge of Monterey Bay. The sessions offer young farmers a chance to learn new farming techniques from successful farmers who have been making it happen  for over 30 years.  This is also a great place to network with all of the dedicated farmers and distribution companies who keep this organic movement alive.  We’re lucky to be part of this movement that’s led by some of the legendary growers that put it on the map in the late 70’s and continue share their love, passion, and integrity.

Throughout the year, Matt and I are so busy keeping all of the fresh produce coming into Bi-Rite that we don’t get many opportunities to have longer conversations with the farmers we partner with.  There’s nothing I love more than running into Andrew from Full Belly, picking his brain about all the crops they’re growing, and hearing about the farming techniques that make their farm one of the most successful in the  Bay Area!

Down On the Farm

At Tomatero with Chris and Adriana (Matt & I learned so much walking around with them!)

Matt and I took the opportunity to break away from the conference, heading over to Watsonville for a farm tour with one of our favorite organic farms in the Bay Area.  Tomatero Organic Farm started on 4 acres in 2004, which has grown to over 100 acres from Watsonville to Hollister.  Throughout the year, Tomatero grows amazing tomatoes, basil, chard, kale, lettuce, strawberries and a lot more.  Farmers Chris and Adriana have done a wonderful job growing high quality produce and maintaining awesome quality as the farm expands. They currently sell their produce at farmers markets throughout the Bay Area, and will start delivering to Bi-Rite in early spring.  In March they’ll be delivering their first CSA boxes to San Francisco. Their dry-farm Early Girl tomatoes and Seascape strawberries are so tasty!

One of the keys to becoming a successful farmer is being able to extend the growing season.  Tomatero has seventeen acres of farm land covered by a large hoop house, which will allow them to get their summer crops into the soil a lot earlier.

The farm shed and hoop house Riley's built on our Sonoma Farm

Up in Sonoma

So now that we’ve learned from conversations at the conference and visits to other farms, how do we apply that to our own work? We’re very excited to start our 5th season of growing food in Sonoma.   The fields are really wet right now, so we can’t work the soil; this is the perfect time of to take care of projects that will help us take the farm to the next level.  Farmer Riley has just finished work on a nice farm shed and greenhouse–now it’s time to plant some flats of onions and get this growing season started!