Community Partners

BrightSide Produce San Diego: A New Beacon for Local Food Deserts

BrightSide Produce San Diego envisions a future where everyone in San Diego has access to affordable, fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s a bold vision, but the student-run, social venture has already made huge strides toward its goal. Launched in June 2017 by Dr. Iana Castro, a marketing professor at San Diego State University (SDSU), and Rafael Castro, BrightSide serves as a produce distributor that reaches food insecure customers in underserved and university communities. 

Currently, it delivers fresh produce to nine community stores in National City weekly by “breaking bulk” and giving stores the flexibility to buy the varieties and quantities of fruits and vegetables that are appropriate for the stores at low prices, without minimum order requirements. 

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In addition to its store deliveries, BrightSide has an SDSU Buyers Club, which is a convenient, on-campus option for affordable produce. SDSU community members can sign up for a produce package based on how many fruits and vegetables they would like to receive each week, and can pick it up at SDSU Farmers Market every Thursday between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Outside of its deliveries, BrightSide has established itself as an important part of the sustainable movement at SDSU. It’s housed under the Center for Regional Sustainability (CRS), an organization dedicated to advancing sustainability through regional collaborations in higher education, research, stewardship and outreach. With the support of CRS, BrightSide is run primarily by students from Dr. Castro’s “Marketing and Sales for Social Impact” course, which gives them the opportunity to apply their skills to a real business and effect change in areas where it’s needed most. Along with running the business, students have the opportunity to share BrightSide’s mission at sustainability-themed events both locally and nationally. 

To keep up with BrightSide as it continues to make its impact in the San Diego region and beyond, please visit BrightSide’s website or follow BrightSide on Instagram or Facebook.

Thank You for Joining Us at Good Food Community Fair!

The times challenge us. Slow Food Urban San Diego is grateful for our community - you uplift us in times like these and help to ground us in others. Thank you for your important contributions to our Good Food Community Fair: True Cost of Food and to our local food system. Thank you for sharing your wisdom, skills, knowledge, sense of hope, resiliency, successes, humor and delicious food and drinks.

This year's Fair celebrated how we are addressing the True Cost of Food in our region and acknowledged the work we have yet to do.

We discussed the true cost of food and farm labor, sustainable seafood, wasted food, soil health and land management, preserving cultural traditions and more. Thank you for sharing your stories and local treats, for teaching us about heirloom seeds and gyotaku, how to prepare "three-sisters," and how to connect to our farmers and fishermen and support healthy food systems. Slow Food looks forward to continuing the effort with you, our community. Thank you to all who contributed and volunteered, and all who attended, and to the WorldBeat Cultural Center for being our gracious host.

We're grateful to our generous sponsors who made it possible to charge only a "suggested donation," so that we can truly bring the Slow Food mission of good, clean and fair food to ALL. Creating opportunities to connect that are accessible is important to us.

Thank you to all who attended and partook of this community event. If you missed this year's good, clean and fair food fun, you can catch the next one in 2018. And of course, you can find us planting, eating, learning, teaching, connecting, cooking and expanding community with our partners in the meantime.

From all of us at Slow Food Urban San Diego, eat well, grow well, and be well.

2017 Good Food Community Fair October 1st @ the World Beat Center

Get your tickets today!

Slow Food Urban San Diego brings together the largest collection of food system advocates in San Diego County: The 4th annual Good Food Community Fair. Come to the Worldbeat Center on Sunday, October 1st from 11am - 3pm as we celebrate all things slow and expand the community table to everyone interested in exploring the Good, Clean, and Fair food movement in San Diego.

The fair is part festival, part conference, part food-stravaganza. Enjoy culinary demos and panel discussions while sampling delicious libations and tasty treats from local food purveyors, tour the first sustainable, edible garden in Balboa park, meet local organizations dedicated to food justice, and learn about the true cost and value of food from some of the most prominent thought leaders in the entire San Diego region.

Programming will highlight and celebrate our community's successes in fair food and ways we can work toward a more just and regenerative food system for all people, animals, and the land.

In San Diego, local seafood is limited to the coast

We are very pleased to share the following guest blog from California Sea Grant on local seafood in San Diego: Most of the seafood consumed in the United States is imported. Even in California, it is likely that less than ten percent of the seafood consumed is domestic. With our coastal location, why aren’t San Diegans enjoying locally caught seafood?

A new study shows that just eight percent of the city’s 86 seafood markets consistently carried San Diego-sourced seafood. Fourteen percent of markets carried it on occasion. The majority of markets that did carry local seafood were located within a mile and a half of the coast.

“Locally landed San Diego seafood isn’t that accessible to San Diego consumers,” said researcher Nina Venuti. “Few seafood markets in the city sell San Diego-sourced seafood.”

To buy locally-caught fish in San Diego, many shoppers have to visit the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market in downtown. It is one of few seafood markets that consistently carry local catch.

San Diego-based commercial fishermen Luke Halmay and Nathan Perez see the Port of San Diego redevelopment as an opportunity to reevaluate how space is distributed

One of the potential limitations to local seafood access identified by the study was a lack of waterfront workspace, including space for docking boats, maintaining gear, offloading and refrigerating catch, and for selling catch directly to the public. To maintain local seafood systems and the fishing heritage of many waterfront cities, reliable waterfront infrastructure is needed. With the Port of San Diego reviewing plans for a radical redevelopment of Central Embarcadero. San Diegans have an opportunity right now to fulfill this need.

The study also pointed to a lack of urban infrastructure as a potential barrier to establishing and supporting a local seafood system. Unlike agriculture, seafood production is limited to the coast. Therefore, local distributors may play a larger role in increasing community access to local seafood, bridging the gap between the waterfront and the city’s restaurants and markets.

“Urban infrastructure like seafood processing, packaging and transport facilities, as well as markets and restaurants to sell our locally sourced catch are all needed to increase access throughout the city,” said study author Theresa Talley. “This will ensure that more of the fish landed by our fishermen ends up on more of our plates here in San Diego.”

#knowyourfishermen

A version of this post first appeared on the California Sea Grant website

Snooze: Celebrate Bacon Day and Support Slow Food

Did you know Saturday September 3rd is International Bacon Day?  Slow Food USA is celebrating the holiday this year with Snooze an A.M. Eatery.  Snooze is throwing a Bacon Day event and donating 10% of their sales Saturday from all of their locations to Slow Food! FullSizeRender

Snooze is a Denver based breakfast restaurant with locations in Colorado, Arizona and California with two locations in San Diego County - one in Hillcrest and one in Del Mar. Snooze operates under values very similar to Slow Food's Good, Clean and Fair Food For All that they express through their menu, their sourcing practices and their involvement in their communities.

The Snooze menu includes breakfast classics with a twist (e.g., Breakfast Pot Pie, Caprese Benedict, Sweet Potato Pancakes) and they go out of their way to find and create foods that are the intersection of tasty and responsible.  We spoke with their sourcing lead, Spencer Lomax about their approach to souring their food to be Good Clean and Fair.  He says that the bottom line is that they want to serve their guests responsibly sourced and tasty food fulfilling their responsibility to the land, to their customers, to their communities and to Snooze.  They live up to that responsibility by providing real, tasty food that was produced sustainably and locally when it makes sense and by engaging with their local communities.  In San Diego they source from several local companies including Bread & Cie and Jackie's Jams.  They support several local non-profits ARTS (A Reason to Survive)Bike To WorkMama’s KitchenDining out for LifeHelen Woodward Animal ShelterDel Mar Education School Foundation and the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy.

In honor of Bacon Day Lomax talked specifically about his search for bacon that was both delicious and lived up to the Snooze standards.  Snooze sources their pork from Tender Belly.  Tender Belly is devoted to the well being of the animal through both the environment in which they live and the all natural, vegetarian diets they are fed. As a part of their Bacon Day celebration you can not only enjoy a full special menu full of Tender Belly bacon items you can register to win bacon for a year from Tender Belly.

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Come by one of the Snooze San Diego locations on Saturday to enjoy the awesome bacon menu, visit with our Slow Food Urban San Diego team, and support Slow Food!

Vinavanti Urban Winery Brings Locally Sourced, Craft Wine to San Diego

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Vinavanti Urban Winery, San Diego In a San Diego market overflowing with craft breweries, craft wine could be considered the black sheep (or bottle) of the bunch. Until you try it, that is. Then you just might become a dedicated convert like we are at Slow Food Urban San Diego.

What is craft wine anyway?

According to Eric Van Drunen, winemaker and owner of Vinavanti Urban Winery, “Craft wine is the punk music of the wine world.”

Most makers today have their wines down to a science, adding yeast, sulfites and other flavors to fit a specific “classical” or “pop” flavor profile. Van Drunen, however, takes a truly minimalist approach to winemaking where he adds nothing more than San Diego County grown grapes (they have a great map in the tasting room that shows all the local farms they source from!) and lets nature do its thing. Unique and surprising wines with subtle flavors representative of the grapes and farms where they are grown are the result.

Vinavanti Urban Winery, San Diego

Van Drunen’s Vinavanti label and tasting room evolved out of many hours drinking wine and eating good food with friends. He started buying and blending wines in 2007 to develop flavors that paired well with food and that he could sell at an accessible price. In 2010 he made his own wine for the first time using conventional methods. It turned out so-so. Bored of the limited flavor profiles of traditional wines, in 2011 he made his first natural wine and hasn't looked back. From there, he continued to refine his process, focusing on doing as little as possible (or nothing at all) beyond sourcing local, organically grown grapes and letting nature and wild yeast do the work in the fermentation process. He bottles his wines unfiltered, highlighting the terroir through distinct colors, textures, and tastes.

Now, five years later, Vinavanti has more than 11 wines on their always evolving tasting menu, ranging from a sparkling Ladona Muscat grown in Pauma Valley that tastes something like a cross between a sour beer and kombucha to their most popular GSM, a rich and smoky blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre grown in Temecula Valley.

So what can you expect when stopping by the only certified organic winery in San Diego?

“We aim to create an environment where you can enjoy a unique tasting experience in an inviting space,” say Van Drunen.

Van Drunen himself is often pouring glasses at the bar and loves to chat about natural winemaking, his background in physics and many topics in between. Community tables make for great social gathering spaces, and romantic two-tops are perfect for quieter date nights. 

Vinavanti is located at 1477 University Ave in Hillcrest, and as Slow Food Urban San Diego’s newest Member Benefits Partner, they offer a 10% discount on wines to card-carrying Slow Food members. Be sure to check them out for weekly specials and events including cellar tours (they ferment most of their wines right in the urban winery) and movie nights, and ask them about their membership program and wines on tap.

Vinavanti Urban Winery, San Diego

Envision Urban Agriculture in Urban San Diego

Last month Slow Food Urban San Diego held an Envision Urban Agriculture Fair in partnership with the San Diego Food System Alliance and International Rescue Committee at Silo in Makers Quarters, Downtown. Together with our good, clean & fair collaborators, we provided the community resources to grow food in our city at this free event. The fair featured an urban farmers market, live music, local organic food and beer, seed exchange, composting workshops, resources for growers, cooking demos, and the Lexicon of Sustainability exhibit. Hillary of Girl Next Door Honey giving the buzz about local bees

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A BIG thanks to all our collaborators including Girl NextDoor Honey for the Helping Honeybees Workshop, The Heart & Trotter  for the butcher demo, Kitchens for Good and Vivacious Dish for a raw desserts demo, and Specialty Produce, Karl Strauss, Golden Coast Mead and Kashi for their generous food and drink donations. 

Get to Know Local Farmer Stepheni Norton, founder of Dickinson Farm

Slow Food Urban San Diego Board Farm Liaison, Stephanie Parker, recently interviewed Stepheni Norton, the owner of the local Dickinson Farm to learn more about how and why she farms. Before becoming a farmer Norton had a distinguished and decorated career as Chief Yeoman in the US Coast Guard.  Learn more about Norton's journey to becoming a farmer in her own words. Why do you farm?  It really started as a personal necessity and as my health improved has become a respite, a mission and as my husband says, a calling.

Tell us about Dickinson Farm's beginnings.   A year-round heirloom fruit, vegetable & herb farm in National City, California…that all started because of a bug the size of a pinhead.

My husband Mike & I purchased the Wallace D. Dickinson homestead in February  2012, as our “forever” home. When we first started dating we half-jokingly made a list of everything we wanted in a home …it was really a delusional list….6 bedrooms, actual land (not a postage stamp), architecture and character, room for a 7 car garage and of course a view of the ocean, and must be in SoCal. It was certainly not something we expected to find.  Then we did, insomnia and the end of the internet, I found the house.  We saw it the next day and put an offer in right away.

When we bought the property, I was in the mist of pre-deployment work-up preparing for a 10 month OCONUS deployment – a few weeks later I was bit by a tick on San Clemente Island off the coast of South California. Unfortunately, Southern California Doctors are not Lyme literate, so I was left sick and untreated for the rest of work-ups and a 10-month deployment.

Almost a year later I returned home, I was still very ill and was bounced around from Doctor to Doctor to find a cure.  After 2.5 years of fighting an undiagnosed illness and looking for a Doctor, in July, 2014 I was diagnosed with Lyme disease and related co-inflections.

Right away I started daily IV treatment and my Doctor wanted me to eat as fresh and healthy as possible.  Each day after treatment Mike would drive me home and try find fresh organic food to make for dinner.

This is when they noticed fresh produce was hard to come by in National City.

So I asked my  Doctor if I could be outside and garden a little… with no real farming experience we planted a few fruits trees. Then we got advice from  a few different garden consultants and started planting a small garden patch …and with that the Farm began.

In the SoCal sunshine, the crops spouted up with ease providing excess in abundance of what they could eat. We started giving away the excess to friends, family and even a crop share. Then decided to give the excess to Dreams for Change to help feed those that couldn’t afford to buy their own.

All the while I sat in the IV chair researching how to make the Farm an actual business.

By January 2016, the few trees and garden patch became 16 raised boxes, orchard, hop patch 20 in ground rows, 4 coffee rows; 1/4 of an acre total. Plans were set and licenses obtained – and in January 2016 the little garden patch officially became Dickinson Farm.

How many varieties do you grow?  Currently we have 42 crops and 108 varietals.  We used fall 2015 and spring / summer 2016 to determined what grows best on our plot.  Starting with our Fall 2016 planting we will reduce the varietals to 2 per crop, focusing on growing what does best on our land which still providing options to our customers.

What made you decide to grow all heirloom varietals?  When we purchased the property, I spent a great deal of time researching the properties history.  We found that Wallace D. Dickinson in addition to being a savvy business man, was one of the top local hobby horticulturists.  He spoke a lot about how to grow a kitchen garden in a [early 1900] “urban environment”.  We wanted to be true to the property and land, what would have Wallace grown? That notion started us down the heirloom path, and the taste and quality of the produce kept us there.

Where do you find your seeds?  I never expected finding real heirloom seeds to take the amount of research it does, but after many hours and some duds, we stick with a few companies we trust… Baker Creek, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Annie's Heirloom, Wood Prairie, & Sherck's.

What's been the biggest thing you've learned during this process?   You cannot control growth.  You are most likely going to be both elated and disappointed every day.  I am a data junkie and logical person. That works with lots of aspects of planning and farming…until the weather changes and the wind comes in.  Then all bets are off.

What's been easy?  Really once you let go of perfection, it’s all easy.  I’ve had a more than a few mentors who taught me hard are the days you or your shipmates do not get to come home. Everything else is just a little heavy lifting and another day in paradise.

Anything you're loving right now that you could share a recipe for?  Carrot tops! Seriously why do people throw these away? (FYI I do recipes like my G-Ma…measurements are swagged)

Carrot Top Pesto Few cups washed carrot tops Few basil leaves (1 leaf to each cup of carrot tops) Small handful whatever nut you like, toasted – we use black walnuts as an homage to our family land in Southern Illinois. Handful grated aged Parmesan cheese One garlic clove or more (I use more) flaky sea salt extra-virgin olive oil to consistency

Blend in mini-chop or get an arm work out with mortar and pestle

Put on Burrata, grab a baguette … amazing

How can people support the farm?  Shop Small & Shop Local!  We are a small farm,  and we want people to be able to choose what they like.  We so offer a free choice of in season, harvested to order fruits, vegetables & herbs in any quantity or combination you choose. It’s a “design your own” box – and is perfect for specialty diets & picky eaters.

Each Thursday evening, we send out a Harvest alert with what will be ready for harvest Monday. Friday morning at 7:00AM our on-line store opens and customers can pre-order online until 7:00AM Monday. Orders are harvested Monday mid-morning, ready for The Market Monday evening at 7:00PM

Every Monday (except holidays) from 7:00pm-9:00pm we bring pre-orders and the remaining harvest to Machete Beer House (aka "The Market")

The Market @ Machete Beer House 2325 Highland Ave National City, CA 7:00pm-9:00pm

Thanks so much to Stepheni Norton for sharing your story with us!

Join SFUSD on August 13 at Suzie's Farm for a Sunset Concert

13483121_10154494699549505_3712863512722925658_o Ready for some summertime fun? Spend a carefree evening at Suzie’s Farm enjoying warm summer breezes, a golden sunset and listening to the dreamy music of Mr. Gregory Page.

Suzies Farm is offering a special field tour starting at 3pm as an add-on. This will also ensure you are one of the first in line when doors open so you'll grab a great spot!

Golden Coast Mead will be on tap. This event is partnering with Mindful Fitness. A portion of proceeds will benefit Slow Food URBAN San Diego, so come on out and show your support.

$27 open seating (bring your own chair/blanket) registration in advance $40 reserved seating for picnic tables limited availability

Get tickets here. PLEASE NOTE: No sales at door.

Facebook event page

How the New Pacific to Plate Bill is Bringing Good, Clean and Fair Fish to San Diegans

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Pacific to Plate Bill San Diego

By Kathryn Rogers and Sarah Shoffler, Slow Food Urban San Diego Board Members

Slow Food Urban San Diego (SFUSD) joined the San Diego Food System Alliance (SDFSA), local fishermen, scientists, government leaders and community partners this week in celebration of local fisheries.

On December 7, 2015, more than 100 fish-loving friends gathered together at the waterfront Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego for inspiring speeches, a lively panel discussion and delicious local seafood served in honor of the recent passage of the “Pacific to Plate” bill AB226. The new bill, sponsored by Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and signed into law in October by Governor Jerry Brown, allows fishermen’s markets to operate as food facilities, vendors to clean their fish for direct sale, and multiple fishermen to organize a market under a single permit. Put simply, the bill makes it easier for fishermen to sell directly to the public, much like farmers can.

Chef Graham Kent, of SoCal Fish, and his staff prep uni shooters for attendees to try

The process to develop the bill sprung from the early success of Tuna Harbor Dockside Market (THDM), which opened to the public in August 2014 and averaged more than 350 customers and 1.1 tons of seafood sold each week in its first months of operation. Recognizing the potential of a longer-term, direct-to-consumer market (the original operated under a temporary permit), County Supervisor Greg Cox, the County’s Department of Environmental Health, Port Commissioner Bob Nelson, the Unified Port of San Diego, California Sea Grant, NOAA, California Restaurant Association, The Maritime Alliance, California Coastal Conservancy, the local media, fishermen, researchers and supporters collaborated to draft a bill that met the desires of local fishermen and consumers. It received unanimous support in the California Assembly and Senate.

How does the new bill align with Slow Food’s mission of Good, Clean and Fair Food for All?

Good: The bill makes it easier for local fishermen to sell directly to consumers, and eliminates added transit time and processing/freezing compared to seafood imported from other countries or regions. The fish sold at THDM is caught by San Diego fishermen in local waters, most of it coming out of our oceans no more than a couple of days before it ends up in consumers’ kitchens. If you’ve ever tasted fresh caught sea urchin (a San Diego local favorite), you can tell the difference - big time. If you haven’t, get yourself down to THDM for an uni scramble or shooter. Your taste buds may never be the same.

Clean: Local sourcing means a smaller carbon footprint - no added fuel costs for fish flown or trucked to our markets from other states and countries. And US fisheries are among the most stringently regulated the world, meaning that if there’s a problem – either we’re fishing them too fast, there are too few or we’re catching protected species, we are mandated to do something about it. Our fishermen are required to stop fishing, slow fishing, or change fishing practices in some way to ensure we’re fishing sustainably.

Fair: One of the greatest benefits of a true fishermen’s market is that it promotes collaboration among local fishermen. Take it from fisherman Pete Halmay, a member of the Fishermen’s Market Working Group and longtime sea urchin diver:

“One of the best things I've seen with this direct market is that every Saturday 10 to 12 fishermen sit down together, work together, to maximize the benefits to the population. They are bringing in a wider variety of fish so each fisherman can generate more sales and bring more diverse options to consumers.”

San Diego’s seafood is wide-ranging indeed. We don't have just tuna and shrimp (two of the most commonly eaten seafood products in the US) in our waters. Our harbors and oceans are full of rockfish (dozens of species!), crab, lobster and snails, among other smaller fish like sardines, sand dabs, and mackerel.

Manchester Grand Hyatt Executive Chef Sutti Sripolpa and Scripps Mercy Chef Cindy Quinonez admire the wide variety of rockfish available at Tuna Harbor Dockside Market

For All: The direct-to-consumer market allows fishermen to run specials when they catch a big run of fish, passing the abundance onto consumers in the form of lower prices.

The passage of the Pacific to Plate bill is a major milestone in bringing good, clean and fair seafood to all San Diegans. So what’s next?

During Monday’s event, Dr. Theresa Sinicrope Talley, Coastal Specialist for the California Sea Grant Extension at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego moderated an expert panel that raised some important questions about where we can go from here to create an even more sustainable seafood system. Barriers to getting seafood from dock to dish still remain, including:

  1. Lack of infrastructure for San Diego fishermen to offload their catch at local docks.
  2. Logistical constraints including limited market hours (currently Tuna Harbor Dockside Market is only open Saturdays from 8 a.m. until around 1 p.m.) that make it hard from some consumers and chefs to get there.
  3. Limited awareness among locals and visitors that the market exists, where else they can buy local seafood, and how they can prepare the less well known seafood produced locally.

Stay tuned for local efforts to address these issues. In the meantime, SFUSD is seeking local chefs and community partners interested in collaborating on these efforts. Contact us to learn more.

And, be sure to pay a visit to THDM to see these fish tales come to life. While you’re there, make sure to ask your local fishermen for their favorite seafood preparations!

Tuna Harbor Dockside Market

2015 Good Food Community Fair

By Sarah M. Shoffler, SFUSD board of directorsPhotos by Eric Buchanan

We had a great time at the 2015 Good Food Community Fair! This year's event, at the wonderful Quartyard, featured some of the best of San Diego's thriving slow food scene: coffee, honey, beer, pigs, sea urchins, yellowtail, sushi, oysters, kombucha, mead...plus farmers, fishermen, chefs, brewers, beekeepers, butchers, food researchers, publishers, educators and conservationists. Check out our photos below!

IMG_1024Over 40 partner organizations, our colleagues in the San Diego Slow Food movement, brought their variety of good, clean & fair food for all to our annual event. We owe our success to these partners, plus to our generous donors of food, supplies, raffle items, time and expertise, and to our awesome volunteers. Not to mention the rockstar staff at Quartyard. See you next year!

Like this year's artwork? You can buy an artist-signed print, of just the art, for $10. Email us at info@slowfoodurbansandiego.org. 

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Our amazing partners and sponsors:

1:1 MovementBaby CydesdaleCafé VirtuosoCalifornia Sea Grant, Scripps Institution of OceanographyCatalina Offshore ProductsCat Chiu PhillipsChef Rob RuizCity Farmers NurseryCity Farming AcademyCulinary Historians Of San DiegoCommunity Health Improvement PartnersCook Pigs RanchDuck Foot BrewingEdible San DiegoEpicurean San DiegoErnest MillerGirl Next Door HoneyGolden Coast MeadGreen Flash BrewingJeanne's Garden Program for ChildrenKashiLeah’s Pantry and EatFresh.orgMaster Gardeners of San DiegoNOAA Fisheries, Nomad DonutsNopalito Hop FarmOlivewood Gardens and Learning Center, One Bag World, Project New VillageRainThanksResource Conservation District of Greater San Diego CountyRevolution LandscapeSan Diego Weekly MarketsSlow Food San Diego State UniversitySlow Money SoCalSoCal FishStone Brewing Co.Surfrider Foundation San DiegoSuzie's FarmThe Humane LeagueTuna Harbor Dockside MarketVia International, Viva PopsWild Willow Farm & Education CenterWomen of Coffee Microfinance Fund, Specialty Produce, The Meat Men, Eclipse ChocolateThe Lodge at Torrey Pines, Next Door Wine + Craft Beer Bar, Dr. Bronner's, Blind Lady Alehouse, Leroy's Kitchen, Suzie's Farm, NINE-Ten, Curds and Wine, Epicurean San Diego, San Diego Food Systems Alliance.

Celebrate the Craft

By Rachel Helmer, SFUSD Board of Directors

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Slow Food Urban San Diego is honored and grateful to have been a part of the 13th annual Celebrate the Craft held at The Lodge Torrey Pines. The October event showcases the region's best chefs, produce, wine, and beer. Guests came from all over California to gather together and celebrate with local culinary artisans, growers, brewers and vintners that were there to showcase their craftsmanship.

FullSizeRenderA portion of the proceeds will be donated to Slow Food Urban San Diego, to support efforts in raising public awareness, improving access, and encouraging the enjoyment of foods that are local, seasonal, and sustainable. Thanks to everyone who came out and visited the Slow Food table and to Executive Chef Jeff Jackson and The Lodge for hosting such a beautiful event.

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Cook Pigs Ranch Brings Healthy and Happy Heritage Pigs from Farm to Table

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By Kathryn Rogers. SFUSD Board of DirectorsPhotos by Colin Leibold

Cook Pigs Ranch

At the age of seven, I proclaimed to my carnivorous parents that I would no longer be eating meat.  It was a moral decision grounded in my love for pigs; I couldn’t bear the thought of my favorite animal ending up on my dinner plate.

Looking back on my youthful conviction, it’s a wonder that some 20 years later I find myself standing on a pig ranch outside San Diego staring into the eyes of more than 40 porkers destined for slaughter.

My staunch pescetarian days had ended years before during a college semester in the south of Spain. Sipping espresso in my favorite corner cafe, I was enticed by the cured pig leg hanging above the chopping blocks. Shortly thereafter I enjoyed my first piece of toast with Spanish olive oil and the famed Iberian ham. I’ve been eating meat ever since.

Cook Pigs Ranch

As I expanded my diet to include poultry and beef, I faced the classic omnivore’s dilemma. My body responded well to the added protein and fat; I felt healthier than I’d been in years. And my culinary forays blossomed with more diversity in my staple ingredient list. But I still didn’t feel right eating animals, especially those that came from the crowded, dirty and inhumane conditions on factory farms.

I hoped that my journey to Cook Pigs Ranch, located outside the little mountain town of Julian, CA, would help to resolve some of my inner turmoil.

Winding through the oak groves on the way to the 11-acre farm, I admit I was nervous.  But as soon as we pulled through the iron gate, I was put at ease with a greeting first by two friendly “watch” donkeys and a giant white horse, followed by an oinking pen of recently weaned piglets. I grinned seeing their curly tails and crinkly snouts.

Krystina Cook, with her youngest daughter Rosaleigh in tow, came to welcome us.

“Let me introduce you to our pigs,” she said, smiling proudly.

Their more than 500 pigs are crosses of heritage breeds including Red Wattles, GOS, Large Blacks, Berkshires, Durocs, Tamworth, and Mulefoot that spend their days roaming pastures and oak groves to feed on grass, herbs, acorns, and roots, with some supplementation from sprouted barley and pesticide-free seasonal produce. Sows birth their piglets in covered birthing facilities and protected pens, and the youngsters are never given medicine so they can build up their immune systems naturally to thrive in the outdoors. It is a truly beautiful (and surprisingly pleasant smelling) operation.

Cook Pigs Ranch

Krystina Cook never set out to be a commercial pig farmer. But she was always committed to being an excellent mother to her eldest son, who suffered from severe food allergies. Grounded in the belief that food is medicine, Cook set out to raise a few ultra-clean animals for her family to eat. She had no trouble raising healthy chickens and sheep, but the pigs struggled to thrive. She became obsessed with figuring out how to raise them well, for both the health of the animals and the best-tasting meat. Word soon spread of her small family farm, and her endeavors blossomed into the growing ranch that is Cook Pigs today.

“Our entire operation is driven by the psychology and art of the pig,” says Cook. “We take pride in raising the healthiest, happiest pigs possible. And we model our slow-growth approach after the famous Iberico pigs from Spain, which produces very consistent heritage pork of the highest quality.”

Krystina Cook, Cook Pigs Ranch

Contributing to the art is Head Butcher Nick Scafidi. He and his team at Cook Family Butcher Shop process more than 20 heads a day at the only USDA-approved butcher in San Diego County. The pigs arrive after to the Kearny Mesa facility after harvesting at a USDA-approved facility north of Los Angeles and are artfully carved and crafted into everything from sausage and ribs to coppa steaks and pig skins.

“We strive to use as much of each animal as possible,” says Scafidi.

Scafidi spent a number of years working in the kitchen, so he understands what it’s like to want unique cuts of meat and is proud of the shop’s commitment to excellence.

“We are ensuring the highest quality from farm to finish.” gushes Scafidi. “I find this very rewarding because no one else is really doing this in San Diego right now.

Nick Scafidi and his team at Cook Family Butcher Shop

With increased demand for humane and delicious heritage pork, Cook Pigs continues to grow. The farm is moving to a new location near Julian with more acres of pasture. They just expanded their product line to include holiday hams. And they will soon be opening up an online store for broader distribution.

“This is the most beautiful pork I’ve ever seen. It tastes rich and robust - just like you are back on the farm,” says Distribution Manager and “Jill of All Trades,” Dana Hayden.

As I get ready to grill up that beautifully marbled coppa steak, I sure hope she’s right.  I would be glad to return to Cook Pigs Ranch for a visit anytime. My love for happy pigs (and delicious pork) is strong as ever!

Cook Pigs Ranch in Julian, CA

To learn more about Cook Pigs and how to order their heritage pork, visit their website. And be sure to join Slow Food Urban San Diego at the Good Food Community Fair on October 11, where Cook Pigs will be giving a butchering demo at 1:00 p.m.

How Recycling Food Waste is Water Wise: An Interview with San Diego Food System Alliance's Elly Brown

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By Kathryn Rogers, SFUSD Board of Directors

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With no end in sight to the California drought, local organizations are seeking sustainable solutions to address all aspects of water use. The San Diego Food System Alliance, coordinated by Elly Brown, is collaborating with other local non-profits to process and minimize food waste  - a surprising issue of importance in the water conservation dialogue.

According to a recent Natural Resources Defense Council report, getting food from the farm to our forks eats up 10 percent of the total U.S. energy budget, uses 50 percent of U.S. land and swallows 80 percent of all freshwater consumed in the United States. Yet, 40 percent of food in the United States today goes uneaten. This means that Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion each year and wasting a significant amount of water at the same time. What’s more, researchers at the NIH have found that food waste accounts for over 25% of total freshwater consumption. Not to mention the approximately 300 million barrels of oil per year for transporting this wasted food along with the methane and CO2 emissions from decomposing food in our landfills.

water-sprinklers-880970_1280The good news is that the state of California recently passed legislation to begin addressing some of these issues. Governor Jerry Brown signed AB1826 in October 2014, which requires local jurisdictions to have an organic waste recycling program in place by January 1, 2016, and businesses to recycle their organic waste by April 1, 2016.

A forward-thinking policy, no doubt, but how will it be implemented locally?

The Food System Alliance is working in San Diego County to create polices and solutions to address huge gaps in terms of infrastructure for handling food waste. Food System Alliance researchers recently estimated that San Diegans produce 500,000 tons of food waste, but local composting facilities can only process an estimated 10,000 tons of this waste. We still have a long way to go.

Public awareness about how much food waste we are producing and how to store and recycle this waste properly is a critical piece to the story as well. “The National Resource Defense Council and Ad Council are doing a national awareness campaign around food waste launching in early 2016, and we plan to dovetail and build upon that locally,” says Brown.

Ground-level efforts are also helping to educate community members about waste issues and engage them in opportunities to create change. The Food System Alliance has collaborated with the Wild Willow Farm, Hidden Resources, and Sweetwater School District to pilot a Food Recovery Program. The Food System Alliance will also convene groups and individuals for a half-day summit on food waste on October 6: the Food Waste Solution Summit.

“Water conservation should not only be happening in our homes but also in our food system as well by creating less waste and encouraging efficiencies,” says Brown.

To learn more about local efforts to conserve water, join the Food System Alliance and other community partners at Slow Food Urban San Diego’s Annual Good Food Community Fair on October 11.

 

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Café Virtuoso to Address Fair Trade Coffee Roasting and Water Conservation at the Good Food Community Fair

By Tania Alatorre, SFUSD Board Member and Good Food Community Fair Coordinator

Savannah PicWe're pleased to announce that Café Virtuoso will present at this year's Good Food Community Fair. Café Virtuoso, founded and owned by Laurie Britton, is the only 100% certified organic and fair-trade coffee roaster in San Diego. Her unique café and roasting facility is located in Barrio Logan, a few blocks from Quartyard, making them the perfect community partner.

Laurie has owned the cafe since 2007. Her daughter Savannah works alongside her and trains their talented team of baristas, and leads café coffee classes and “cuppings,” the practice of observing tastes and aromas of brewed coffees. Both have a profound passion for coffee and for supporting organic and fair trade coffees in addition to being long-time supporters of Slow Food. They have a wealth of knowledge of the global coffee industry and sell a unique range of organic beans and teas that they share with their staff. It’s not uncommon that you walk into the Café Virtuoso and learn something new about the coffee you’re about to enjoy. Chat with the baristas, they know their stuff.

restaurant-coffee-cup-cappuccinoSavannah will kick-off the Good Food Community Fair special programming at 11AM with an engaging conversation on how Café Virtuoso selects coffee from farms around the world, roast beans in house, how they have paved the way for women in coffee in San Diego, and what they are doing to conserve water at their café and roasting headquarters. Stay for their latest cold brew paired with Nomad Donuts donut holes!

You can also find Café Virtuoso at the Little Italy farmers market on Saturday’s.

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Master Gardeners Educate and Service San Diego Communities

by Nathan Yick, Slow Food SDSU Chapter Leader

master gardener community gardenSan Diego has over 300* Master Gardeners, passionate gardeners who serve and educate San Diegans on pest control and horticulture for free. Part of a rigorous training program founded in 1980, by the University of California Cooperative Extension, they work alongside teachers and parents helping children with their garden projects. They help community gardens overcome challenges with their plots, and with the drought plaguing California, their services and knowledge are much needed in the gardens.

To help San Diego communities combat the drought, the Master Gardeners have developed their Earth Friendly Gardening program. This program trains gardeners in sustainable gardening addressing things like how to adapt to the drought by providing information on creating an earth friendly garden--information on how to conserve water, maintain soil quality, and reduce waste. Thanks to the Master Gardeners, Community Gardens all over San Diego, like the Agape House by San Diego State University, have thrived and continue to provide fresh and local produce for the community.

"One of my favorite things about being a Master Gardener is helping people with their gardening challenges," says Dominick Fiume who became a Master Gardener through working at the Ark of Taste Heritage Garden in Old Town State Park.

As fulfilling and rewarding experience it is being a Master Gardener, becoming one takes a lot of work. To become certified, students go through a training program consisting of 16 weekly classes taught by agricultural experts which educate aspiring volunteers on pest management and horticulture. They must pass an exam and then volunteer regularly as well as continue their education to keep their certification.

Through their commitment, knowledge and passion for public service in gardening and pest control, the Master Gardeners have helped San Diego communities preserve and create more sustainable gardens.

SFUSD is excited that this passionate and knowledgeable San Diego resource is participating in our 2015 Good Food Community Fair. Look for their booth on wise water use.

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*the original story in the Sept newsletter reported there were over 60 Master Gardeners in San Diego. San Diego has over 300.

 

 

More than Honey and Sweet Sips Networking

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Honey tasting.

Big thanks to everyone who came out for our Sweet Sips networking event in July at Local Habit. Mead tastings by Golden Coast Mead, honey tastings offered by Wild Willow Farms and local beekeepers from the San Diego Beekeepers Society and special honey-based dishes by Chef Jimmy. A sweet time, indeed.

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And thanks to all who joined us for the re-screening of the More than Honey documentary. This is an amazing, intriguing, beautiful and quirky film. Please see it if you haven't already.

For those of you interested in learning more about bees and what you can do locally, here are a few great local resources:

San Diego Beekeeping Society holds classes and meetups to encourage responsible beekeeping. Lots of expert members there. You can find a list of beekeepers on their website who perform live bee removals and other bee resources in the county.

Wild Willow Farm is a non-profit organization offering beekeeping classes (also farming classes). The instructor is very knowledgeable about bee issues locally and globally and can tell you about hosting a hive on your property.

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Girl Next Door Honey offers beekeeping classes and workshops, one-on-one consulting, a host-a-hive program and performs live bee removals.

If you need to remove bees from your property, please consider live removal by one of these folks or those listed on the Beekeeping Society website. Bees are important to our food supply and need a helping hand. Stay tuned for future bee-related events.

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Local Food and Beverage Tours with Epicurean San Diego, New Member Benefit Partner

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San Diego is home to more than 90 craft breweries and a growing number of farm-to-table restaurants committed to supporting the county's more than 6,000 local farmers. So it's no surprise that when Stephanie Parker moved back home after a three-year, food-forward stint in San Francisco, she felt called to help make the most of San Diego's local food and beverage scene. Parker has been in the food and hospitality business since her college years, and her biggest passion is showing locals and visitors alike the best that her city's farms, coffee roasters, craft breweries, butchers and wineries have to offer.
Cue the birth of Epicurean San Diego, Parker's newly founded food, farm and libation tour company. Epicurean offers half and full-day hands-on food tours on Saturdays that are open to the public for up to 12 guests, as well as private tours for special events. More public tour dates and locations coming soon.
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Tour guests can expect to stop at three to five carefully curated businesses committed to local, organic sourcing and sustainability. A full day tour might begin with a coffee cupping class at a local coffee roaster, followed by an hour-long organic farm tour and a field-side, linen-napkin and artisanal crafted lunch. The afternoon might include a flight at a local winery, a lesson in curating from a local salumi maker, and a final foray at one of San Diego's famous craft breweries with some cold pints to celebrate the day. Guests are certain to go home with full bellies and a sense of pride in the community they call home (or home-away-from-home).

"Our tours are founded on a combination of passion for learning and a desire to strengthen ties in the community," says Parker. "When we see where our eggs and beverages come from, we have an opportunity to make informed buying decisions that align with our values."

Slow Food Urban San Diego members get a 10% discount on all Epicurean San Diego tours. To learn more, visit epicureansandiego.com.

~by Kathryn Rogers, SFUSD Board Member~

 

2015 Good Food Community Fair

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SLOW FOOD URBAN SAN DIEGO'S THIRD ANNUAL

GOOD FOOD COMMUNITY FAIR

WATER WISE SAN DIEGO

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2015

11AM - 3PM

@ QUARTYARD IN DOWNTOWN SAN DIEGO.

Go to GoodFoodFair.com for more information!

A celebration of artisanal food and craft drinks, cooking demos, art and music, discussion panels with local farmers, chefs, food producers and breweries, and more!

Join us downtown at the Quartyard to mix and mingle with San Diegans working towards a sustainable & delicious San Diego. Special programming and events will cover good, clean and fair food in a time of drought. Entrance is free.

It'll be a delicious time! Go to GoodFoodFair.com for more information!

Interested in Participating?  Would your organization like to host a complimentary booth at the fair? Please fill out this form by September 4th.

Questions? Please contact us at membership@slowfoodurbansandiego.org.