May Dinner Pics

•May 14, 2010 • 3 Comments

Here are some photos from our last dinner. If you’d like to find out about the next one, sign up at forageSF.com

Photos by Robin Jolin: robinjolin.com

Alternative currency and the local food economy

•April 27, 2010 • 23 Comments

I met yesterday with a man named Tim from a place called the Hub, an org that I might be getting involved in. They basically create a space where like minded-folks, entrepeneurs that are working toward social and environmental goals can get a workspace and collaborate. Pretty cool stuff.

Somewhere in our discussion the idea of alternative currency came up. Tim had just been working in England to establish the Brixton pound, a local alternative currency. Apparently they had 40000 pounds in circulation when he left to work for the hub.

Apparently there are alternative currency movements happening all over the world, some in our own city (there is something called “Bernal Bucks” that is gaining traction in that neighborhood). It’s such an interesting idea. We all talk a lot about supporting small business, and keeping dollars local, but if you create a currency that is totally local, you can see the real effect of your purchases, with the growth of your local economy.

My immediate thought was to create/use a local currency at the SF Underground Market. How great would it be if we only accepted SF Bucks (or perhaps some more catchy currency name), and the vendors would be able to spend that money to buy ingredients from local farmers to make the products that then would be sold at the next market. And it wouldn’t need to be just the market, or farmers that took it, but also local restaurants, cafes, maybe giving a percentage discount if you used it… I have to admit that this idea has its fair share of inherent problems.  We would need a much larger pool to really create a currency that could be used. Get more businesses involved etc.  But it would be really amazing to take this idea of local community support to the next level/keep more money local/give more incentive for chefs/producers to buy locally….ideas?  Anyone want to take this on? I’ll help.

On hunting

•April 25, 2010 • 2 Comments

Friday I did something I’ve been wanting to do since I started forageSF, I went hunting….well, seeing as I didn’t have a gun, or a hunting license, I suppose hunting wasnt exactly what I did. To be more exact, I went on a hike with some people who were hunting.  Just so you don’t get excited, just to be let down, we didn’t get anything. We actually didn’t even see any in season animals until we were riding home in the car (one of my blood thirst comrades was close to jumping out of the moving car).  In a lot of ways it was hunting though. It was hunting in the way that I felt when I was in the forest.

I talk a lot about the way knowledge of wild food changes the way you experience nature. That it gives you a new connection with your environment, and an awareness that a simple walk in the woods doesn’t necessarily attain. Its was the same way on friday, but magnified.

We woke up at 3:30am to drive to Napa ( a friendly vineyard owner had given us permission to hunt on her land). As soon as we entered the woods, it was in a different way than I’ve even done so before. I could hear everything. The rustle of a  salamander crawling across our path at 10 ft pounded my eardrums.  I walked with a quietness and awareness that I’ve really never felt before. Even though I wasn’t going to shoot anything (hunting license issues), I still felt it.  That higher awareness of “getting your eyes on” that we talk about with mushroom hunting.  A focusing of the senses, hearing and seeing with an awareness that many of us never experience.

I of course don’t miss the irony that this awareness comes at the cost of killing something. That the connection to my environment is attained through death. This doesn’t bother me though. We are animals, and animals survive off other life forms. Be it a carrot, an apple, or a pig. One doesn’t have more or less value over the other, and the “nothing with a face” argument has always struck me as strange.

I will hunt again. I will hunt because I like to eat meat. Because I feel like hunted meat is one of the most honest meat to eat, but also to feel the awareness again. The fine tuned sense of place that comes with hunting.

More posts….first on the market

•April 22, 2010 • 4 Comments

So Ive decided to post more on this a here internet web machine. These wont be polished, I wont go back and add the ‘ in wont for example. But more quick snippits of whats going on in the forageSF world.

1. So. The 4th Underground Market is done. It was a great time, even though I have felt better (not feeling so great that day). It was the first time Ive used a legitimate events space for anything Ive ever done. Its always been warehouses of friends, peoples backyards etc..but with people waiting so long to get into the march market, I figured I owed it to all of you to pony up some cash for a bigger space. It was MUCH bigger, although people still ended up waiting.

There are all these little things that come along with using a real space that I would have never imagined (maybe if Id actually read the policies beforehand I would have figured it out, but reading policies is not my strong suit). For example, $300 charge for trash sorting! $300! I agree that trash should be sorted, but I guess I though people would do it themselves.

Overall it was a great time in a great space. We had 70 (70!) vendors this time, which may have been a few too many for the space, but I think everyone had a good time. I think its great that so many people are interested in showing up for these kinds of events. Supporting the local/alternative economy, rather than throwing their money into the wind (read: corporations), never to be seen again, they choose instead to give it to their neighbors, and in doing so, get to help them succeed. Good times.

Pics From Our Last Wild Kitchen Dinner

•April 2, 2010 • 5 Comments

Photos by Robin Jolin    robinjolin.com

and the third market is done!

•March 17, 2010 • 2 Comments

The SF Underground Market has turned 3 (in months, not years).  It began with me and 7 other vendors selling wild mushrooms, jams, pies and corned beef sandwiches in a mission neighborhood home.  The first market had about 200 people attending. By the third, amazingly, it has grown into a warehouse sized behemoth of 47 vendors selling everything from salami to ginger beer to pickled grapes to wild boar, with over 1,200 people lining up outside to get in.

At this market I made salt and sugar cured pork belly buns. People really seemed to like them, which was nice to see, although I need to figure out how to make them faster (some people waited for 20 minutes for a bun). That’s what’s cool about the market; there is this great public that shows up willing to wait a bit longer for something. Almost all the vendors at this market sold out of what they brought; the hot vendors seemed to be the most popular.

The SF Underground Market is a pretty straightforward idea. It was created as venue for all those of us who make stuff. Maybe its jam, maybe its pulled pork sandwiches, maybe its. It’s a space for those of us without the resources to jump through the increasing maze of regulatory hoops that have been imposed on food producers in this great city.  I’ve given a lot on thought to why so many people come to these markets. Not that I’m complaining, any organizer loves to see people lining up for their event, but people throw food events all the time without this kind of draw.

I think people love the idea of coming out to support people like them.  People who love to make food, have been making it for years, but have never, for whatever reason, been able to make that leap to selling it.  The vendors at my market don’t have business licenses or commercial kitchens.  Many of them are 9-5’ers who have had an interest in starting a small business for years, but need a jumpstart to get it going.  Anyone can be a vendor at the SF Underground Market, all you need is a skill and focus.

If you want to be a vendor at the next market, go to http://foragesf.com/market/vendors/faq/

March SF Underground Market pics

•March 10, 2010 • 7 Comments