Tag Archives: local

Even My Dad Goes to the Farmer’s Market

Dad and I drive the vintage convertible to our farmer's market (and yes he's looking at the camera - he's a terrifying driver!).

Dad and I drive the vintage convertible to our farmer’s market (and yes he’s looking at the camera – he’s a terrifying driver!).

This summer, I spent two weeks on the East Coast in late August/early September – I know, slow blog summer – I was too busy enjoying people! Heading back east is one of my favorite activities, as I get to see friends and family and look at that big Connecticut Sky, but it also comes with some panic around what I will eat. My Dad’s favorite meals to serve me (and don’t get me wrong, these things are always delicious!) are processed turkey kielbasa, pierogis and iceberg lettuce out of a bag. Ok the bagged lettuce is never delicious. Dad has really come a long way in the food department, now buying hamburgers from our local butcher and almond milk, but the Tolland county area lacks my beloved San Francisco eating options. Or so I thought.

Kale chips and food trucks. In Coventry, CT. I’m serious. My Dad has been raving about the Coventry Farmer’s Market for over a year and frankly I didn’t believe that it would be that good. My weekly shopping trips include the Ferry Building farmer’s market and Mission Community Farmer’s market and I thought: Connecticut, please. The big guy convinced me to hop in our convertible (1990 Mustang ragtop- not very sustainable but almost a classic and so very fun to drive!), and we headed over to check this thing out. Well, the Coventry Farmer’s Market is incredible. It’s huge – more town fair than market. It has real Mexican food – the closest thing CT had to Mexican food previously was Qdoba and we all know how authentic that is. It also has a cannoli food truck, gluten-free bakery stands, local artisans selling soap and woven placemats, and sweet summer corn for $0.25. This was my heaven. Eastern Connecticut has an entire local, anti-GMO, farm-to-table, food movement that I knew nothing about. If you live in or near CT, this site will help you find all things local food.

If my Dad is shopping at the farmer’s market, you can too. One reason he shops there is because it often isn’t more expensive – my Dad hates expensive – and everything tastes better. Vendors let you try things (husk tomatoes/ground cherries were a new one for us!), tell you how to prepare the produce if you’re unsure, and you’re doing a world of good for your body and your local economy. If you need more convincing, read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable Miracle, watch one of my favorite documentaries, Food Fight, and think about the impact YOU can make on the planet and your community.

Below: My favorite food truck (cannolis!) and juicy summer watermelons

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Eating Mushrooms In Prospect Park – Meet Forager Ava Chin

I recently joined 18 Reason’s FoodLit Book club (I know, how very San Francisco), and the first book I read was Ava Chin’s Eating Wilding. We were lucky enough to have Ava join us and in addition to discussing foraging, love and the process of getting a book published, I got to try my first foraged greens pie. Holy yum.

Ava and the FootLit Book Club moderator Heather photo credit @SusannaKChau

Ava and the FootLit Book Club moderator Heather photo credit @SusannaKChau

Ava’s book is a quick, honest and endearing read weaving together stories on childhood, love, family, nature, and food – so many wonderful things to relate to! I’m going to focus on the food part, as I was blown away that you can find safe and edible things to eat, in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park or in a neighbor’s backyard in the middle of winter. Ava describers herself as a sort of life forager (searching for love, her father, and morel mushrooms), and started by using Euell Gibbon’s Stalking the Wild Asparagus as a field guide while roaming the streets of NYC. She finds and eats all sorts of things: oyster and morel mushrooms, field garlic, garlic mustard, mulberries, lambsquarters and wood sorrel (I called these sour clovers growing up) in neighborhoods where I used to live! Her book includes helpful recipes (what the heck do you do with wood sorrel after all), and our discussion helped inspire me to notice the food growing all around me (turns out wild fennel is everywhere in SF!).

As I continue my journey into sustainable eating, my latest quest has been eating seasonally. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be a forager myself (though next time I’m in Brooklyn I will be on the hunt for field garlic!), but I know that delicious things grow in my Bay Area community year round, and that I want to eat them. Since June, I’ve limited my fruit and veggie purchases to farmer’s markets, because the food tastes better. I will admit, I cheated a few weeks ago, missing the blueberries of June, and bought organic Oregon blueberries at Whole Foods. They were disgusting. Missing was the juicy sweet and tart flavors of my summer blueberries, and all that remained were these mealy eyeballs that I couldn’t even feed to the dog. Goodbye store-bought fruit, I now know what fruit is supposed to taste like.

If you’re interesting in foraging: read Eating Wilding, and see if your city or town offers foraging classes or food walks, like this one at Forage SF. Even if foraging isn’t for you, try eating more fruit and vegetables from your local farmer’s market – I promise you will not be disappointed. Yes, you may be stuck with squash all winter, but raspberries in December don’t taste good, so why eat them?  Here’s to happy and sustainable eating!

A Zero-Waste & Local Wedding

Well, I got married in March. It was absolutely the best day of my life, surrounded by 70 of our favorite people. Throughout the planning process (all 2.5 months of it) we worked super hard to make sure we had no waste and were minimizing our purchases. Man the wedding ‘industry’ tells you to buy all sorts of shit and it’s kind of hard not to get swept up in it…maybe I do need personalized stationary, a photobooth, and paper lanterns that we set free into the sky. To be honest, taking the minimalist approach also saved us a ton of money.

Here’s some simple things we did (and of course we didn’t get it all right!):

-Online invitations. Yep, nothing printed! I designed it in InDesign, we emailed it out, & people emailed back a yes or no. Simon also made us a great website w/ more details (www.letsbuildafort.com). (See below, free)

-We made sure the location, The Stable Cafe, had composting. The food (Jennifer’s Lunch) was so amazing that there was barely anything left and the catering staff took what was left home!

-Our centerpieces were terrariums rented from the amazing Lila B ($100 total), pieces of free driftwood our friend Shannon found on the beach (she was our wedding designer!), butcher paper that was then recycled, and all of our dishware/napkins/the tent/heat lamps were rented and returned  after.

-Edible favors! Amazing muffins, croissants, pastries, and surprise baked goods from our favorite local place: Craftsman & Wolves. They were packaged in compostable thin brown bags (total spent on favors less than $200).

-Groom & Groomsman had upcycled boutonnieres (Thanks Anna!)

-Reused old wood to write signage on (free)

-Reused an old window pane for seating assignments ($20 supply store)

-Bridesmaids could pick their own dress and one of them reused (1 free!)!

-We didn’t do any decorations – the cafe already had twinkle lights, trees, plants and that was good enough for us! (Free)

-All local and organic food. (Our plates were only $120/person for passed appetizers, bus snacks, chicken/steak/vegetarian options -and EVERYTHING was organic and local!)

-All local wine. With Napa, Sonoma, and Russian River so close, how could we not! Also all local beer except my Dad requested a 30 pack of Coors Light (seriously).

-Our favorite local pies & local legend blue bottle coffee

-We all walked to our after-party at Mission Bowling Club

-Thank you post-cards (save a whole envelope, recycled, soy ink!) from our favorite SF designer, Notify.

-Our rings had no gems or diamonds (conflict free) and were made by a local designer out of gold (mine) and stainless steel (Simon’s)

Eco-fails:

-I bought a new dress. I looked at a lot of reused options (actually tried to get the dress I loved/wore reused but couldn’t find it) and looked at upcycled options but in the end fell in love with my Claire Pettinbone. I also bought new earrings from an NYC boutique and new shoes from Anthropologie. I reused my grandmother’s purse.

-We took the entire wedding party on a cocktail-hour bus tour of San Francisco for 2 hours. Definitely better than doing cabs or something but we could have just stayed put and not put those bus GHGs into the atmosphere. Again, it was totally worth it. It was one of my favorite parts of the wedding and the first time to SF & to the Pacific for many of our family members!

-We had Shannon pick up and make sunflower bouquets from the SF flower market. They were very simple and incredibly gorgeous (and we composted them), and I don’t regret it, I just loved them.

-Groomsman all bought a new shirt and Simon bought a new vest and tie.

-We had a ‘sign in chair’ but also printed a postcard of ourselves and each person that came to the wedding and had them write notes on them. That, one menu for each of the 6 tables, and pieces of paper that Shannon wrote table numbers on were the only paper we used.

Enjoy the pics below and feel free to ask any questions about any of the above choices!

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Loca-Organic-Vega, What? Eating made Simple.

Sustainable food. Is it better to buy a local organic apple? Well there are no chemicals used (+1 health) and it takes less fuel to get that apple to you (+1 emissions saving). What about the apple from Fiji though? It had to travel thousands of miles to get here (-1 emissions), and who knows what the organic standards are like over there (we’ll give it a 0 for health), but are you also helping to create jobs and livlihoods for developing economies? With the global food trade, some countries are getting themselves on the map. In parts of Africa only fruit grows. Should they just eat fruit all year because it’s local or should they bring money into their economy and give people a living wage by exporting them?  Continue reading

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