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Welcome to my first shot at contributing to voiceofsandiego.org.
Some of you may know of me via the articles I’ve written about education, politics and the state of the media for other online publications.
I have to warn you now that we won’t be focusing on those subjects in this column, which I hope to crank out on a regular basis. At FoodCraft I’ll be talking about the people and places that are evolving that connect to that most basic of all human instincts, feeding ourselves.
The difference between this post and, say, a column about foodie restaurants, or locavorism, or organic farms is that FoodCraft is about those and more. Most of all, though, FoodCraft will be talking about people and places that are concerned with edibles created with an understanding of sustainability and a generous dash of history.
We’ll be looking backwards to a time where artisans took pride in making foodstuffs that preserved perishable commodities and presented them in new and exciting ways. And we’ll be looking forward to a new economic paradigm where small becomes the new big, global becomes local, and hi-tech meets the root cellar.
The claims of inherent made by proponents of organic everything seem (to me) to fall into the category of “too good to be true.” But one can’t help but notice the similarity in both style and content of the mega-corporate food processors to that of the tobacco industry just a few short decades ago. Given the choice between a loaf of “healthy” bread made by Sara Lee and Bread & Cie I’m opting for the local product.
Regardless of the merits in this debate, the marketplace has already responded to people’s concerns, and there is an emerging micro-economic trend away from corporate mass-produced foods and towards products that are crafted by smaller organizations aimed at a mostly local market.
This trend is what FoodCraft will focus on.
In San Diego County there are now 48 Farmers Markets, and eight CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture groups). Nationally there are 70 “local” editions of Edible magazine; blogs advocating local foods are springing up daily (this one was created by local writer Jill Richardson) and those pesky CSA’s are multiplying faster than rabbits in a hutch.
Rey Knight’s locally made sausages are selling well in both Farmers Markets and restaurants around San Diego. They’re selling so well that he’s expanded from humble beginnings in Urban Solace’s basement into a second processing plant. Caffe Calabria roasts extraordinary coffee up in North Park.
And in Ocean Beach, Jackie’s Jams are utilizing local fruit and gaining wide distribution in the region. These people are passionate about their craft, and I look forward to sharing their stories with you in the coming months. It’s should be fun.
— DOUG PORTER