Friday, December 11, 2009

How it Feels to Be Back

I just returned from a month-long journey in Europe. I have an agriculturally-related blog account written, and was waiting to upload photos to post it. But alas, the charger to the camera seems to have been left somewhere abroad, and I'll have to post it some time later.

Meanwhile, I was surprised to return to such bitter cold and moisture! Although the trip took me to climates known for cold winters (namely, Berlin and Prague), I feel like the coldest I've been in the past month was yesterday! But of course, I'm grateful for whatever rainfall we're lucky enough to get (and wise enough to catch and store!). And I know that many of our most loved fruit trees need this cold in order to bud out next spring, so I can't complain too much...

One thing that struck me in my first days back in the city: It's funny how, on vacation, I was willing to spend any amount of money for foods that I knew nothing about. Really, I just wasnt't worrying or thinking too much about what I was eating when I was eating out. I just knew that I was hungry and didn't want to spend too much time looking around for "the right place" to eat. Of course, I wanted the food to be tasty, and I tried my best to be able to judge that from no prior knowledge of a place. Often, I used my best sheep-like logic: if the place had many customers inside, it might be good. And, being on vacation, I was less concerned with saving money than usual, so I didn't let the fact that I was spending more than I would normally bother me.

My point is that, immediately upon finding myself in the Mission, I was filled with the same feelings of conflict I get every time I am hungry and not in the position to cook at home: what should I eat? What has the best combination of taste, price, portion, and quality ingredients? Is caring about what you eat, as a restaurant-goer, just a form of self-imposed neurosis?

The sad reality is that, even in the incredible diversity of options available in a culinary city like San Francisco, our outside food choices are limited by the same old factors: a lack of well-produced ingredients, the inadequacies of our wallets, and (for people like myself) an overly-busy lifestyle which prioritizes convenience and te ability to fill ones belly over taste and (expensive) quality.

Luckily, I found a compromise in YAMO (18th and Mission). Since I'm no longer vegetarian, I went for the chicken noodle soup. Maybe it was all the spices, but on this cold rainy day the dish was satisfyingly filling, nutritive, and delicious. And less than $6! Just don't ask me where the chicken came from!

In the realm of events/announcements, here's a weekend of food events for ya!
Hiya folks!

Just wanted to let you all know that we're having a holiday JAM SALE to benefit Produce to the People this upcoming weekend, Saturday Dec. 12 from 12-4pm at our favorite local pie shop, Mission Pie (2901 Mission St., the corner of Mission and 25th).

All jam is home made from locally and organically grown fruit and herbs and sweetened much less than store-bought jam with organic, fair trade turbinado and demerara sugar. We re-made some favorites from the last jam sale, like apricot lavender, and have some delicious new varieties like spiced apple, and fig with a touch of home fermented red wine vinegar. All jam is $5 a jar, and all proceeds go to benefit Produce to the People's harvest, garden, and youth programming.

Jam (and all consumables!) make a tasty and low-impact gift, and I can assure you these jams were made with a great deal of love and dedication. Come early for the best selection, last time we sold out much quicker than we expected! And stay late for the delicious pie and all the other sweet and savory treats inside the pie shop!

A big thank you to Mission Pie for generously hosting us again, and to Rainbow Grocery for donating many of the canning jars and sugar that made all this jam possible. Also, YOU can keep the jam alive by donating empty canning jars at the jam sale (or getting in touch with me if you can't make it to the jam sale). And if anyone is interested in volunteering an hour or two on Saturday, drop me a line, I would love a little help and company!

Stay warm! See you Saturday!

All my best,

Lauren Anderson
Director and Program Coordinator
Produce to the People

Planting Justice would like to invite you to our first annual concert/party at the historic Humanist Hall, this Sunday December 13th at 6 pm!

We are so excited to celebrate the hard work and quick progress we have made creating tangible change throughout the Bay Area towards a more just and sustainable urban food system.

We will be blessed by performances from some of the most incredible dancers, musicians and eco hip hop artists in the area...Mariee Sioux, Dascrybe of Debajo del Agua, Communitree, the Space Pirates Cooking Show, the Halau O Keikiali'i Hula Group, and Bollywood Dancer Archana Sachdev!

Our silent auction will offer wonderful installations of sustainable urban food systems, including a custom permaculture garden, a bee hive, a chicken coop, an earthen cob oven, a greywater system, and more! Enjoy a warm, lovingly prepared dinner by Pachamana Cafe, organic beer from Linden Street Brewery and Triple Rock, organic wine from Frey Vineyards, and much more!

All proceeds go to support our Green Jobs program in 2010 and our urban permaculture empowerment projects at San Quentin State Prison, middle-schools and high-schools in Oakland, and various backyards and frontyards that are helping community members grow healthy food right where they live.

Get Tickets early, or sponsor a low-income attendee at

$30 for dinner, entertainment
$40 for dinner, flowing wine/beer, and entertainment
$30 to sponsor a low-income attendee (no one turned away for lack of funds.)

When: Sunday December 13th from 6 - 11 pm
Where: Humanist Hall, 390 27th street in Oakland, between Telegraph and Broadway

Feel free to send this invite to your friends!

And thank you for supporting tangible food justice projects and the right of all people to healthy, affordable food!

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