#55 | Things Are Going To Hell In A Handbasket

In The Breadbasket State


September is one of our favorite poetry months because there are so many poems about blackberries. As poet Robert Hass notes, “there is in this world no one thing to which the bramble of blackberry corresponds, a word is elegy to what it signifies.” Here’s a recent poem by Ada Limon that appeared in the 2021 edition of Pop-Up Magazine, which was distributed in a box since the pandemic made it impossible to hold their usual event in person.


Armed with our white plastic buckets
we set off in the safety of the noonday
heat to snag the full rubus of blackberries
at the bend of her family’s gravel road.
But before we even reached the end
of the driveway, a goose hung strangled
in the fence wire bloodless and limp. Her
long neck twisted, her hard beak open.
She was dead. Though we had been loosed
like loyal ranch dogs, we knew we should
go back, tell someone, offer help. Still,
sunburned and stubborn in the way only
long free days can make a body, we walked
to the thicket and picked. When we returned,
bloodied by prickles and spattered with stains,
we were scolded, not for secreting
the news of the dead goose, but for picking
too many berries. For picking all day
in the sun without worry for our own scratched
skin. I can still remember how satisfying
it was. How we picked in near silence, two
girls who were never silent. How we knew
to plunder so well, to take and take
with this new muscle, this new gristle,
what grew over us for good.

–Ada Limon
Pop-Up Magazine, 2021

By the way, I'm Bruce Cole, Publisher of Edible San Francisco. Welcome to all the new subscribers this week! But if you'd like to hop off anytime, simply unsubscribe. I appreciate you reading (and sharing) this newsletter.

Here we go.

Things Are Going To Hell In A Handbasket In The Breadbasket State: Did you know that alfalfa is one of California’s highest acreage crops, and it’s grown as forage for cows in the dairy industry? Kind of like how the midwest is planted from state to state with corn and soy to feed beef cattle. By the way, this means most of the cropland in the U.S. will feed cows, not people. Alfalfa requires a lot of water, as do almonds, another water-intensive crop (California produced 3.12 billion pounds last year). And it hasn’t rained since forever. Anyway, since California is the leading dairy producer in the country, there are over two million dairy cows in the state, currently chewing their alfalfa cud (while burping too). Plus, ALL the salmon are dying because of the drought and water issues too. Sigh. And now for the rest of the story: “California produces much of America’s food—and now a drought and a pandemic have put the system on edge.” The New Yorker

Kinda Related:Cow pee is an environmental problem. But now scientists say calves can be potty-trained.” The Washington Post

Hee Haw: Went to Noriega Produce (aka Gus’s Community Market) this morning to pick up some meat because we’re still grooving on the Hanger Steak with Tomato(es) Salsa recipe by Christian Reynoso from our last issue. Needed some cherry tomatoes too, and we picked the cardboard container over the plastic clamshell. We’re trying to avoid all plastics (which of course is impossible considering almost everything comes packed in it), especially since the great plastic recycling scam was exposed last year by NPR: How Big Oil Misled The Public Into Believing Plastic Would Be Recycled. This dovetails into this tidbit gleaned from the latest Edible Alaska newsletter: “Writer Rebecca Solnit reminds us that big oil company BP actually popularized the idea of "carbon footprint because it served them to make climate change seem like an individual responsibility.” {throws up hands in resignation}. Can we trade in our Toyota for a mule?

On The Side: We added these micro-fried capers to our hanger steak dinner. Or rather what was left of them after we ate most of them out of hand. So good! America’s Test Kitchen

The New Meat Math:Instead of Meatless Mondays, I propose “Meat Mondays,” with plant-based meals the six other days. If my outreach has taught me anything, it is that this shift is achievable. The trick is not to preach abstinence but rather to start with one meal we really enjoy and then transform it to plant-based and progress from there.” Eleni Vlachos in The New Republic

Happy Birthday To The Bean King! Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo celebrates 20 years of simmering and slinging beans. We were chatting with Steve at his booth out front of the CUESA farmers market one time when he spied Mario Batali heading our way. Steve quickly handed us a couple bags of beans and we slipped them to Batali. Not sure if they ever showed up on the menus of his restaurants, but Sando’s beans are favorites of chefs everywhere now: “How Rancho Gordo changed the way eight Bay Area restaurants serve beans.” SF Chronicle

Shots Fired! Doordash gets the white-glove treatment (kidding) from Jaya Saxena: “The delivery app is suing NYC over a law that would give restaurants access to customer data — showing once again that it cares about the wellbeing of restaurants about as much as any bloodsucker cares about its host.” Eater

Deep Dive Into The Worlds Finest Olive Oil With Armando Manni: “The quality of the work you do on the ground and on the trees is very important. We say the olive tree is a gentleman. If you are very polite and take proper care of it, he will give to you everything back.” Peeled

Not Sponsored But Gladly Accepting As A Gift: Manni, The Oil of Life 2020 Box Set: Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil.


🌿 Can’t Miss Pop-Up: Studio Patro is partnering with stylist Sara Slavin and her vast collection of glass vessels, filling them with flowers, buds, vines, and greenery for a very special "glass and garden" sale this weekend. 100% of sales will go to Raphael House San Francisco and Planned Parenthood. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, September 17, 18 and 19 – 11 am to 5 pm. 1898 Hyde St.

Real Food Real Stories: The last virtual storytelling event of the year with acclaimed Afrofuturist writer, food scholar, and creator of the groundbreaking Sistah Vegan anthology, Dr. A. Breeze Harper, to the up-and-coming Indigenous Zapotec food leader and descendant of Oaxacan mezcal makers, Fabiola Santiago, to Real Food Real Stories founder, Pei-Ru Ko, one of Food Tank's "14 Women Changing Food Around the World." Register here.

CUESA's Sunday Supper: A Farm to Home Feast. Bringing together farmers, chefs, winemakers, and changemakers⁠ to grow thriving communities through the power and joy of local food. At CUESA’s Sunday Supper: A Farm to Home Feast, you’ll enjoy a lavish four-course dinner and virtual gala⁠⁠ from the comfort of your home. Reserve Your Feast Here.


Full Page Ad In The NYT:

Hard Pass (especially if you can’t even spell artisanal right):

As A Matter Of Fact:

That’s all for this week.

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Have you listened to our September playlist yet? We’re really loving the first track. Take a listen:

EAT.DRINK.THINK September 2021: the playlist we listen to while cooking dinner every night. Leading off this month with טוויסט (Twist) by Jay Lamotta w/ Michael Moshonov and new tunes by Fousheé, Fantasitic Negrito, Loose Change, Stoop Lee Little Simz and more. Plus some vintage Tony Bennett because we could always use a shot of that sweetness.


We’re outta here. Be well and take care,

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"Humans — despite their artistic pretensions, their sophistication, and their many accomplishments — owe their existence to a six-inch layer of topsoil and the fact that it rains.” Anonymous