DISCLAIMER: Our camera battery died on Friday night and so the photos in this post are snapshots pulled off our video camera – which is essentially why they suck! But I wanted to be sure to give some viuals.
The next morning, everyone met up at the Ferry Building, to enjoy the morning at San Francisco’s incredible Farmer’s Market. We started off up stairs drinking coffee, eating pastries and meeting up with bloggers. We had a fun and lively conversation with Nichelle, from Cupcakes Take the Cake and got to meet another one of my foodie friends, who had evaded me the night before, Joan of FOODalogue . After chatting, we wanted something savory for breakfast. So on several recommendations from Foodbuzz staff, Roberto and I (as well as many other bloggers) enjoyed breakfast sandwiches from the Golden Gate Meat Co. We decided to enjoy the sandwiches al fresco so we could enjoy a view of the San Francisco Bay. Once back inside, we couldn’t pass up a “meat cone” from Boccalone which was a mix of several of their different cured pork products. The mortadella with pistachios was my surprising favorite (usually my favorite is salami). I wish we had gotten video of this, but we were hanging out chatting with Kristi of Austin Farm to Table. But I know she talked about it on her blog, so go check it out!
We spent the rest of the morning perusing the market. I was especially impressed by one of the indoor shops that was exclusively mushrooms. I saw the most beautiful and delicious looking mushrooms – colorful chantarelles, lobster mushrooms and the biggest FRESH porcini. My heart sank a little because I knew I could not take any home. Outside, we spent time marveling at the fresh produce booths. We tasted Asian pears, yogurt, persimmons, honey and much more. I also bought 4 lbs of beans and grains from Rancho Gordo on a recommendation from Kat and Matt of A Good Appetite .
At 11:00 we joined Peter and Christey from FotoCuisine , Joan of FOODalogue and Catherine from Munchie Musings at the Farm to Table Discussion led by Executive Chef of the Americano – the restaurant at the Hotel Vitale, Paul Arenstam and the general manager of the Hearst Ranch (sorry, no picture of these guys…). Hearst Ranch supplies their grassfed beef to the Americano for their burgers and so the discussion centered on the differences between grassfed and conventional beef (something I talk a lot about ), how farms and restaurants can work together to get quality and local meats to consumers, how food producers can work with food bloggers to get unbiased and genuine word out about their products, and how to build a farm to table model that works, and can be copied by local farms and the restaurants around them.
Some facts about grassfed vs. conventional beef:
Conventional beef depends on fossil fuels and government subsidized feed (like corn and soybeans) to feed their cattle. Conventional cattle are weaned at 6 months and spend the rest of their life, eating subsidized grain, living in close quarters (with other cows, and their own excrement) and in 13 months become 1300 lbs of meat.
Grassfed beef remains free ranging and pasture fed their entire life. They depend on sunlight and photosynthesis to eat. They experience low stress, and little handling from humans, making their meat tender and lean. In an 18 month period they will become 1100 pounds of meat. Grassfed cattle, through well managed grazing, are part of a natural cycle which actually aids in the conservation of grasslands.
During the question and answer period, Catherine, from Munchie Musings asked about what kind of a discount food bloggers could get on Heart’s new program where consumers can buy a share of a grassfed cow directly from Hearst. He was quick on the draw and responded that food bloggers can get a 30% discount and free shipping, if they use the coupon “foodbuzz”. Now that is a great deal! If I lived in CA I would totally go for it – but I am looking forward to supporting my local meat producers. If that fails – I am going for Hearst – they are a company that I can support without reservation.
I really enjoyed the morning – it was nice to see lots of farm fresh products at the market and then learn more about how local businesses and farmers can work together to get local foods out to the consumers. It was inspiring in so many ways. If you live in California, and have not been to the Americano, you should try it out. Their menu sounds delicious, and I got to sample Chef Paul’s Hearst Meatballs at the Tasting Pavilion later that afternoon (more about that in a follow up post) and they were really fantastic. I would also encourage you to check out Hearst Ranch and their Cattle Share program.