Winter 2017 Issue
In July, I attended a panel discussion titled “The Future of Good Groceries,” convened largely in reaction to the seismic shift in the food world triggered by the purchase of Whole Foods by online retailing giant Amazon. Marin’s own Albert Straus of Straus Family Creamery was on the panel, as was Liz Martinez, director of product for San Francisco’s Bi-Rite Market. Bi-Rite owns a farm in Sonoma County where it grows a significant amount of produce that is sold in Bi-Rite’s two San Francisco locations. Sam Mogannam, the founder of Bi-Rite, also has a home in Sonoma. Albert and Sam are both superheroes of our local food community and personal heroes of mine.
Marin County resident Bentley Hall, CEO of San Francisco–based Good Eggs, was also on the panel. As you will read in the feature on Good Eggs in this issue, the online grocery and meal kit delivery company has set itself apart in this exploding sector of the grocery market by committing itself to sourcing from, and nurturing, the local food community. In fact, according to the company, 80% of what it offers comes from local farmers, ranchers and other food producers.
My overall takeaway from the discussion and my own personal experience is that there is a need and a place for multiple channels through which today’s overly busy consumers can stock their (our) refrigerators and pantries. I excitedly look forward to the days when I have the time to go to the farmers’ market and connect with the people who are growing and raising and making the food that I eat. I also enjoy walking up and down the enticingly stocked aisles at our world-class local grocers, filling my basket with produce, meats and artisan-crafted food products from local purveyors. On other days, the fact that Good Eggs will deliver to my doorstep not just fresh flowers from Sonoma’s Oak Hill Farm, but Stemple Creek Ranch beef and Rancho Llano Seco pork, Rustic Bakery crostini and Tomales Farmstead Creamery cheese, is an answer to this busy mom’s prayers.
For me, the non-negotiable requirement of any food retailer where I spend my hard-earned dollars is that they support our local food community. Aside from the obvious reasons, including quality, taste and environmental impact, I can think of no more manifest evidence of why a thriving local food economy is vitally important to each and every community than the unhesitating and tremendous outpouring of support that I witnessed from our local food community in response to the horrific fires in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties in October.
The power of lovingly prepared food was unmistakable on the faces of first responders as they accepted breakfast burritos, served piping hot at 4am, as they climbed into the fire engines to head back to the front lines; and in the smiles of children in evacuation shelters as they savored housemade baked goods donated by local bakeries. It’s called the hospitality business for a reason. The call to feed others comes from the heart.
The spring issue of Edible Marin & Wine Country will be filled with stories of how our community has come together to nourish one another, the bright light in the midst of the darkness. If you have a story you believe should be included, please send me a note at Gibson@ediblemarinandwinecountry.com.
In the meantime, I wish you all a peaceful, nourishing and delicious holiday season.