in this issue
Big Box Shops
Subsidy Update
Email EPA
Christmas Trees!
New Restaurants
Edible SF
Feed the Fire

featured links
What's New Online
Take Action
Om Organics


Tasty Bites 12.02.05
Help spread the word & pass this on!

Big Box Shops

Oh, there's so much to dislike about big box stores like Wal-Mart, Target, and those growing maxi-malls. They notoriously sell foreign-produced, underpriced, environmentally unfriendly products. Their low prices, sustained by a crazy globalized economy, promote resource-churning consumerism. They're typically accessed only by car, and inspire millions of greenhouse-gas-spewing car trips. And, surrounded by a sea of parking lots, they are anchors to the sprawling new suburbs that represent non-smart growth -- and are downright ugly.

Mainly due to consumer pressure, many of these eviiil empires are taking baby steps to carry more natural, organic products, treat their employees more fairly, and reduce negative environmental effects. Yes, many are even announcing they are going green...ish.

It will take time and more comprehensive, systemic plans before these big boxes are any model of sustainability, but you've got to give them credit for starting to step up. Ultimately, customer demand is what drives it, and if we can get these big shops to take on the mission, they can really make an impact.

Let's take a look at what some big fish are doing. Okay then:

  • McDonald's in New England are now serving organic and fair trade coffee thanks to Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Newman's Own.
  • Wal-Mart is pushing overseas suppliers to meet enviro- and social standards. They're also going to start carrying more organic foods and organic cotton clothing, and they're going to switch from petroleum-based packaging to corn-based.
  • Trader-Joe's brand eggs are going to all be cage-free by February 2006.
  • Starbucks said it will offer fair trade coffee "upon request" in each of their stores. (5 years after they made this promise, it's not lookin so good... Want to check the Integrity Scale? Take the Starbucks Challenge.)
  • Whole Foods... Ok, they're obviously not like the others. But, many people still diss them for being big and successful, and for being expensive. The truth though is that they are a catalyst for many positive changes in our food supply, and their pricing does reflect the true cost of food.

Okay, all this news is great, but critics are still skeptical... Many say these efforts miss the point in that the only true sustainable economy is a local one, and most of these types of corporations still source their goods from overseas. Others remind us that even if they go 'green', community businesses (thereby local economies) are still displaced. True too.

Still, big box stores have a lot of power on their side, and if they can't necessarily be beat, we may as well try to educate and reform. And it really isn't whether business leaders are waking up to the sustainability challenges the new century will bring. If they aren't, they will lose their jobs. The real test is whether these business leaders move beyond the "look how green we are!" phase to work for, lobby for, and invest in genuinely sustainable forms of development.

Specific to organics, check our related past feature: Thinking Locally & Acting Neighborly.

Subsidy Update

The Environmental Working Group just updated their Farm Subsidy report and database... Oh, how dysfunctional we are. American taxpayers spent a staggering $143.8 billion on farm subsidies over the past ten years, more than $104 billion of which (72 percent) went to the top 10 percent of recipients -- some 312,000 large farming operations, cooperatives, partnerships and corporations. Meanwhile, the House Agriculture Committee decided to drop 300,000 people (mostly working poor folks) from the Food Stamp program, and rejected Bush's proposal to limit annual subsidy payments to $250,000/person. Oh my.

"Farm subsidy policy is too important to leave to [those who are] subsidized," said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group. "It's time for politicians here and in Europe to embrace reform." Ooh, what if just 1% of those billions were redirected to farms making the switch to sustainable methods? Now we're talkin.

Check out the EWG report and highlights.

Email EPA

The EPA is actually proposing to test pesticides on American children who "cannot be reasonably consulted," like mentally handicapped or orphaned newborns, neglected or abused kids, and any kids outside of the U.S. What the heck??

Join the Natural Resource Defense Council; the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice; the Organic Consumers Association; Beyond Pesticides; the Pesticide Action Network, and many other organizations in opposing EPA's proposed human testing rule, which does not meet the standards of the Nuremberg Code of ethical medical behavior.

Email the EPA here!

Christmas Trees!

On a happier note, yippee!, pick up your sustainably-grown red fir Christmas tree at the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market!

Every Saturday until December 17, you can buy long-lasting, old-fashioned, sustainably grown & harvested trees from Double K Christmas Tree Farm in Petaluma. Double K will be located on the far North side of the market along the Embarcadero, and there will be a Christmas tree loading zone curbside.

You can special order large trees (over 5') in advance by calling 707.773.4702 and asking for Bill or Nan.

New Restaurants

Holy new restaurants! San Francisco is going crazy with new eateries, and lucky for us, many of them are using organic, wholesome, locally-sourced ingredients. Amazing what a little education (and consumer demand) can do!

Show your support and fill that belly at these new (or newly discovered) gems:

  • Ame - Creative New American (French-Italian-Japanese) from the owners of Terra in St. Helena, Mission/3rd in SF.
  • Bar Tartine - Tartine Bakery's restaurant is finally open!, Valencia/16th in SF.
  • Cafe Crescendo - Neighborhood cafe with organic coffee and snacks, 14th/S.Van Ness in SF.
  • Cafe Gratitude #2 - One of the city's fave vegan and raw cafe has a new twin, 9th Ave/Irving in SF.
  • Club Waziema - Ethiopian with a bar, art, music & pool tables, Divis/Fell in SF.
  • Medicine - New-Shojin Japanese cuisine in a modern, casual setting, Sutter/Montgomery in SF. Check out their fun event (below) next Weds with True Sake!
  • Tres Agaves - Killer Mexican in a warehousey space, Townsend/2nd in SF.
  • Zoya - Cozy bi-level spot serving New American, Grove/Gough in SF.

Contact info & more organic restaurants in the Bay Area.

Edible San Francisco

Did you pick up the latest cool quarterly dedicated to the abundance of local foods in the San Francisco area? Edible San Francisco is edited by Bruce Cole of Saute Wednesday, and celebrates the family farmers, fishermen, fishmongers, food artisans, chefs, and other food-related businesses for their dedication to using the highest quality, fresh, seasonal foods. And it's free!


Check our organically-inclined Events page for more happenins as they are announced.

FYI, if you're free next Wednesday, the 7th, come to Medicine Restaurant for some sublime Japanese food in a cool, modern setting...with sake from Hayes Valley's True Sake! Japanese food, sake, mixing and mingling. A great combo for the holidays. RSVP info below...

Annual Central Coast Holiday Potluck Alphabet Soup Sustainable Ag Party
Fri, 12/2/05, 5:00pm-9:00pm
Gizdich Ranch, 55 Peckham Rd. in Watsonville; Free

Class: Perennial Vegetables and Other Edibles that Grow Well in SF
Sat, 12/3/05, 10:00am-12:00pm
Garden for the Environment, 780 Frederick Street in SF; $15

Grand Lake Farmer's Market Goes GE-free!!
Sat, 12/3/05, 10:00am-1:30pm
Grand Lake Neighborhood, 530 Lake Park Ave. in Oakland; Free

Shop with the Chef - Chad Callahan formerly of Fish
Sat, 12/3/05, 10:30am - 11:30am
Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market, Ferry Building in SF; Free

Kids' Garden Club
Sat, 12/3/05, 2:00pm-4:00pm
Tilden Nature Area, in Tilden Park in Berkeley; $6 ($8 if not a resident of Alameda or Contra Costa County).

Zinfandel Week at Chez Panisse
Mon-Sat, 12/5/05-12/10/05
Chez Panisse, 1517 Shattuck in Berkeley

Discussion: "Nourishing Holidays"
Tue, 12/6/05, 7:00pm-9:00pm
Teleosis Institute, 1521B 5th St, upstairs in Berkeley; $10, please RSVP

Medicine Restaurant & True Sake: Organic Dinner and Sake Tasting
Wed, 12/7/05, 6:00pm-8:00pm
Medicine New-Shojin Eatstation 161 Sutter Street at the Crocker Galleria in SF; $40 ($10 to reserve - call 415-355-9555 -- and $30 when you show up)

Holiday Networking Party - North Coast
Wed, 12/7/05, 6:00pm-8:30pm
Omelette Express, 112 4th St, Railroad Square in Santa Rosa; $25 donation per person, sliding scale. $100 for groups of 5 plus $20 for each additional person advance purchase only! RSVP requested.

Hands-on Mushroom Class
Sat, 12/10/05, 10:00am-3:00pm
Berkeley Eco-House, 1305 Hopkins St. in Berkeley; $15 sliding scale

Shop with the Chef - Peter Rudolph of Ritz-Carleton, Half-Moon Bay
Sat, 12/10/05, 10:30am - 11:30am
Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market, Ferry Building in SF; Free

Forum: The Frankenfood Myth?
Tue, 12/13/05, 6:30pm-8:30pm
The Independent Institute Conference Center (click link for directions) in Oakland; $15

Convert a Carnivore Day at Millennium
Wed, 12/14/05
Millennium Restaurant, 580 Geary St. in SF; 25% off!

Feed the Fire!

Even a little snack. If you use these newsletters, use our website, or simply enjoy having delicious, organic food in the Bay Area, please support our programs that serve local, organic farms and the community. Om Organics is a project of the San Francisco Foundation - Community Initiative Funds, and can only continue with the help of contributions from conscientious people like you!

Any amount is appreciated!
You can make a donation:

  • via to
  • by credit card: via the SFF CIF donation page
  • by check: "Om Organics: Project of SFF CIF", 225 Bush St. #500, SF, CA 94104


2005 Om Organics 12.2.05-44