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Jan 19, 2011 | posted in Blog by seedlingprojects

One More Thank You: The Interns!

I enjoy making things happen from behind the scenes. As Alice Waters’ assistant, quietly fixing problems, it was a modus operandi that maximized what could be done, and continued to serve when I moved on to other endeavors. This weekend I was quite literally thrust onto stage: Dominic Phillips, brilliant event producer and co-founder of Seedling Projects, insisted that as the Director I must say a few words to close the Good Food Awards Ceremony, stage fright be damned.

Relieved that that was over, I wandering down to the reception looking forward to some incredible food. My beeline for the prosciutto was foiled by a pair of coppa producers from Georgia, a kimchee crafter from Washington DC, coffee roasters from Massachusetts and a dozen other winners who, one after the other, stopped me to say thank you for starting the Good Food Awards. Many of them had tears in their eyes. I didn’t know quite how to respond – but it was an experience I will never forget, and which I know will influence what I do in the future.

I imagine many of the 71 winners felt the same way on Friday night: widely appreciated for what they do for the first time. And perhaps today they feel like I do, a little shell shocked and hopeful that they were gracious in the face of a new sort of appreciation.  Working in their garage roasting coffee, in cellars cleaning up exploding kegs, tediously seeding ground cherries to make preserves or spending a week picking June Bugs off raspberries to keep them pesticide free, they are not usually in the public eye. When they are through with their work, the fruits of their labor sit proudly on market shelves, giving us endless joy, but they remain in the garage or the kitchen and rarely get to see how thankful we are for their exceptionally delicious beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, coffee, pickles and preserves.

On Friday night, the fooderati of the Bay Area and beyond came out to thank them. It was standing room only after the hundreds of chairs were filled, and the applause when their names were announced reverberated all around the historic Ferry Building. At the Saturday Good Food Awards Marketplace, thousands of people were there to taste and buy their wares – we actually ran out of tasting spoons – and many of the winners sold out. For a salami maker from Salt Lake City or farmstead cheesemakers from Wisconsin, it must have been quite an experience to see just how many have an interest in tasty, authentic, responsible food.


Photos by Marc Fiorito of Gamma Nine Photography

Many hands went into the creation and implementation of the first Good Food Awards. We managed to thank most of them from stage, or on signage this past weekend. However, there were a handful of people who have no logo to paste on a sign or fancy titles to recount. Without their dedication the Good Food Awards would never have come to life. So, I’m pleased to now give the Seedling Projects interns their first lesson in accepting public thanks. I have a feeling it is a skill they will need in the future.

Norris Hung, thank you for your creativity, good humor and keen eye in designing so much of our signage and materials. Hannah Hausauer, thank you for tirelessly scouring the country to get entries and diligently helping the press team get the word out. Sarah King, thank you for being my right hand woman, always with a smile and a cool head. Gavin Crynes, the most frequently asked question I got all weekend was “Is Gavin here? We would love to finally meet him.” Thank you for taking such good care of everyone honored this weekend, without ever letting slip any of the event logistics. Do you ever get tired?

To all of you, and to the three interns who came before you – Amy Chu, Emily Morgan and Shane Michalik – congratulations on a beautiful weekend, and thanks for your hard work.

- Sarah Weiner, Director of Seedling Projects

Gavin Crynes, Amy Chu, Emily Morgan, Sarah King, Norris Hung, Sarah Weiner, Hannah Hausauer

| posted in Blog by seedlingprojects

Farm to Desk DC: Off to a Good Start!

Seedling Projects’ East Coast venture, Farm to Desk D.C., is off and growing!  Even with the garden ground still frozen (and dusted with snow), third-graders are experiencing food and ecology topics daily.  For a math lesson about writing digits up to 10,000, classes talked about rice in different cultures and wrote the number of grains found in a cup, half-cup, quarter-cup, and smaller.  In English Language Arts, they inferred character traits by reading a story about cooking chicken soup for a sick friend.

At the same time, students have started a twice-weekly elective that will eventually move outside and into the kitchen.  The first several classes tackled the question of what is food, and what is ecology?  Students brainstormed their families’ food traditions, and took a survey that measured their preferences.  In one class, students sampled Kartoffelpuffer, a traditional German pancake.  They liked the taste, but especially had fun practicing the German word!

-Peter Nalli, Food and Farm Curriculum Director

Jan 18, 2011 | posted in Blog by seedlingprojects

Farm to Desk DC: Muffins and Maternity Wear

While visiting Brooklyn recently, I rode the Franklin Avenue Shuttle from a gentrifying part of Bedford-Stuyvesant to Park Slope.  On the train, two girls were loudly arguing about whether BJ’s or Costco has better muffins.  While the bakery trash-talk escalated, my heart sank as I pictured the huge, fat- and preservative-laden muffins that come on pallets of twenty-four.  As one of the girls finally shouted, “who cares about your muffins, have you tried BJ’s cheesecake?!,” I arrived at my stop.

Moments later, strolling past yoga studios and locally-sourced maternity clothes in Park Slope, I caught up with two mothers and their ten-year old sons.  One of the pair loudly proclaimed, “that was barely a salad bar at all!  Our school‘s salad bar has more than one type of lettuce and no Jell-O!  Who ever heard of Jell-O in a salad bar?”  The mothers nodded approvingly.

Seedling Projects works to equalize the diverging paths down which these kids are charging.  Great teachers aim to equip the children of Bedford-Stuyvesant to debate Shakespeare and complete calculus problems with students in Park Slope.  In Washington, D.C, we work to ensure that all children choose food that fuels their achievement and liberates them from chronic obesity, diabetes, and attention disorders.  The second educational achievement gap today is a Hunger Gap that when addressed correctly, puts all students on a path to opportunity.

-Peter Nalli, Food and Farm Curriculum Director for Farm to Desk D.C.

Jan 13, 2011 | posted in Blog by seedlingprojects

Get Excited About Local Pork!

Seedling Projects recently started a new outreach campaign for the film, Pig Business, an investigative documentary that reveals the true price consumers pay for cheap pork. Produced and directed by a British mother of three and marchioness, Tracy Worcester, Pig Business can at times be hard to watch, as you see the harsh realities of CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation), but the film also peels back the layers of the industrial food system, showing consumers how small and medium-scale pig farmers’ livelihoods are put in jeopardy, while taking a close look at the environmental and health impact these giant producers have without proper regulation or consequence to their actions.

What I really love is that this film doesn’t stop there, it asks that you to support local farmers and pork produced without harmful hormones and antibiotics — basically pork that is good for you, the economy, and the environment. There’s nothing more easy than buying local pork and then tasting the difference for yourself.

This coming March the film is going to screened in Washington DC for farmers, and NGOs, with special host Robert Kennedy, Jr., head of the Waterkeepers Alliance and huge supporter of the film and legislation against large pork producers world-wide (he is in the movie!).

Want to see the film? Watch it streaming online here for FREE  or contact us at Seedling Projects for ways to share the film and get involved.

Also, a great book to check out is CAFO: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories, Edited by Daniel Imhoff, featuring essays by Wendell Berry, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr, Michael Pollan, and many more…

- Shane
shane@seedlingprojects.org

“Eating is an agricultural act.”
— Wendell Berry

Oct 17, 2010 | posted in Blog by seedlingprojects

Good Food Awards Blind Tasting – All Mouths on Deck!

If you walked up Mission St. in SoMa last Sunday afternoon you might have seen an unusual sight around The Hub in the SF Chronicle Building.  Meat Slicers in the window, fresh bread being delivered, people rolling out in a cheese coma or others hopped up on fifty-one different roasts of coffee.  That sight was the Blind Tasting of the inaugural Good Food Awards.  Months in the works, through the combined efforts of committees for each tasting category and a dedicated staff at Seedling Projects, the tasting came to fruition Sunday Morning at The Hub SoMa, a funky co-working space for social entrepreneurs that was generously donated for our tasting pleasure!

Great brewers, charcuterie makers, coffee roasters, chocolatiers, cheesemakers, jammers and picklers from all across the country submitted their products to be considered for a Good Food Award because the initiative seeks to recognize the sort of foods that fall in line with their values: great taste, authenticity and responsible production methods.  The producers crafted their great products from ingredients harvested by farmers using sustainable methods, all part of growing healthy food communities.  They sent over 700 products to our generous warehouse partners at Veritable Vegetable, Sonoma Direct and Tomales Bay Foods, where the products were sorted into tasting categories.  The efforts of the producers were certainly brought right to the tasting table.

The day started with fresh baked breads, croissants and pastries from the SF Baking Institute.  Four bakers from the institute served the bread and told us all about their favorites: a plum- filled long roll, a sweeter baguette with teff, an ancient Egyptian wheat, and, my fave, the chocolate croissant (it was obviously someone else’s favorite too, because I overheard her saying that if she could only eat one thing for the rest of their life, it would be those chocolate croissants. Maybe slightly excessive, but they were certainly good).  Right alongside the SF Baking Institute, Ritual Coffee’s head barista, Pele, prepared pour-over coffee by the cup for all and any needing a hot, delicious daystarter!

The judges proceeded to their tasting areas for morning tastings.  Our committee members, experts in each of the tasting categories, managed each of the tastings.  Each station had an individual identity in terms of judge personalities, presentation of the samples, and flow of the tasting.  Chocolate judges were deep in concentration, mulling the experience of each piece.  Cheese judges had a more hands-on approach of smelling and feeling the wheels and blocks of cheese before digging in for a communal cheese frenzy.  Beer set up the beer garden at the back tables and got an early start for the afterparty (though they too tasted with calculated sniffs and sips).  Preserves split into tasting groups, separating out the chutneys, jams, butters and preserves to different groups.  Pickles had a huge diversity of pickled vegetables, relishes and even some pickled watermelon!  Charcuterie made quick work with the slicer and served samples to the executive boardroom table of eighteen judges.  And not to forget coffee, who were machines behind the glass of the double-sized conference room (heating water, weighing beans, grinding, cupping and tasting).  The coffee team gets the longevity award, as they had a smaller judging team cup all 160 coffees in an advance tasting all day Saturday.

I had a great time as the logistics coordinator making sure that all of the teams had what they needed.  But the committees really made my job super easy because they were so self-sufficient and on top of everything!  In fact, everyone at the event, volunteers, committees, staff and judges were awesome.  I can’t emphasize that enough.  The positive energy surrounding the event, the food and the gathering was palpable.  There was truly a sort of organic flow to the event that put everyone at ease and allowed each of the products to be featured to its maximum potential.

Continuing with the flow of the day: 123 Bolinas Artisan Wine Beer and Food provided a lunch of various salads, bruschetta and a juicy peach and caramel dessert, along with donated Honest Tea, Acme Bread and various cheese and charcuterie samples from morning tastings.  The doors to Mission St. opened up and judges mingled in and out from food world to the beautiful October San Francisco sunshine.  The afternoon tastings involved products from different regions and/or subcategories in all categories.  At some point during the tasting, began the Great Sample Exchange between tasting tables!  As the palates of the judges began to get overworked, judges started to ask for samples from other categories to diversify the tastes they received.  The organic exchange had pickles judges noshing on salumi, cheese judges dipping into preserves and beer judges slicing up cheeses.

At the end of the day, the judges agreed on winners in each category and subcategory.  Finalists get announced on November 15th – so don’t ask! :-)  As judges and volunteers left, we loaded them up with gift bags of donated items, including From the Fields Granola, Oren’s Kitchen nuts, and Ricks Picks Pickles, some of the leftover samples from the tastings, and a gift box from Foodzie!  I’d say that tasting great food all day was worth it after all!  We donated all other leftover samples (after setting aside a few for the very worthy volunteers!) to Food Runners, who provide food for homeless shelters.

To the untrained eye that might have been the end of the festivities, but there was one more stop on the Good Food Express.  Almost everyone involved in the day migrated over to the after party at Ritual Coffee’s Roastery.  (Thanks Eileen Hassi for donating this great space!)  The newly-founded Butchers Guild hosted the afterparty, highlighted by a lamb butchering by Dave the Butcher and raffle of the butchered meat and Primal Cuts, the fantastic new book from our Charcuterie Committee Co-Chair Marissa Guggiana.  Also featured were more samples from the tasting, The Taco Guys food truckin it, delicious beers and wines, and DJ Berlin Reed on the turntables.  It was a great wind-down for everyone involved in the day’s events and a relaxing opportunity to meet, mix and enjoy.

All in all, the tasting event was a great gathering of people in the food industry to celebrate food producers across the country.  Can’t wait to tell you all the winners (and find out myself!).  Stay tuned for information about the festivities to give these Good Food producers some public recognition at the Good Food Awards Ceremony and Marketplace in January, along with the following Good Food Month of events across San Francisco.  To get involved, email us at info@goodfoodawards.org.

-Gavin

Aug 23, 2010 | posted in Blog by seedlingprojects

SF Street Food Fest- Feast my friends!

Good Monday food lovers!

Can we talk about the food at the 2nd Annual SF Street Food Festival last Saturday? Who can forget the 4505 burger that turned me into a hysterical idiot licking up the left over sauce off my fingers while the unused napkins lay next to me? How about the Bi-Rite ice-cream sandwich- creamy strawberry ice-cream slammed between what I can only imagine are two snickerdoodles? Snickerdoodles! Let’s talk about Chaac Mool’s Carne Asado tacos, and the truffles at Neococoa! There was also a taco filled with goat meat somewhere along the line that was heavenly. Oh! Then there was this grilled fig wrapped up in some white thing, probably straight fat, that was so fresh and sweet and grilled and yummm. Did anyone get to stop by Kung Fu Tacos, or the Brass Knuckle and try their waffle sandwich thing? Yes, waffle sandwich. I mean, if you didn’t try at least one of these foods, smack yourself and look them up. Maybe you had your own concoction of finger licken’ goodies. Share with me! Let’s not forget the sweet and savoury memories of spicy Indian burritos and creme brulee.
La Cocina and Dominic Phillips Event Marketing put on an excellent street food festival. Five blocks of food booths and trucks were packed with thousands of food lovers. I had a great time volunteering. My favorite job was making rounds to the producers making sure they had what they needed. The mixture of the aromas that came from each “kitchen” was absolutely intoxicating. Sausage browning on a skillet, sauteing garlic, onions and spices, grilled corn, the burgers…. there just isn’t any other way to experience this kind of aroma therapy than the Street Food Fest.
For everyone that didn’t get to go, street food is finally starting to make a statement in San Francisco (it’s about time). Get your empty belly out to Fort Mason on Friday evenings for “Off The Grid” street food. It’s a nice sampling of street food from many of the same vendors that were at La Cocina’s event.

Forks up, and go!

-Emily

“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook”
-Julia Child