Bi-Rite and more
When I was out in San Francisco for twelve hours this past month my one desire was to go to the BI-Rite market. I had been following the transformation of the Bi-Rite market for the past couple of years. A market that had been in the family for years but had changed hands to the next generation in 1997.
Sam Mogannam is the son who took over Bi-Rite and returned to the roots of what a grocery store used to be. Grocery stores used to be the center of the town, the pillar of the community where local farmers sold their wares, where recipes were exchanged and local economies were created. Sam not only made BI-Rite into an incredible shopping and learning experience, he opened a creamery down the street, bought a farm and started a non-profit, 18 Reasons, to bring people together to around sustainable food. Returning Bi-Rite to its roots transformed the neighborhood. Proving that there was something about the original concept of small towns and each individual purveyor on Main Street. We lost that along the way and in his corner in San Francisco he is bringing it back.
One of the things I love about America is when things needs to change it is the people who change it first. The farm to table movement is a perfect example. People are waking up to the revolution of how important it is to know where our food is coming from, to nurture our bodies with healthy foods, to support our local farmers and to eat responsibly. It might cost more to buy organic fruits but at least you know that peach wasn't sprayed with chemicals. We need to value our food. It also doesn't hurt to share meals with friends and family a few times a week.
I read the cookbook from cover to cover. Sam is a man on a mission. I had the pleasure of meeting him at the Chelsea Market this past weekend too. At the same time, I finished reading The Kitchen Counter Cooking School by Kathleen Flinn. Her book is about transforming 9 culinary novices into fearless home cooks. These 9 cooks started out filling their cabinets with processed food and after Kathleen taught them to shop in places like Bi-Rite and Greenmarkets but more important how to cook and cut up a chicken. Each of the 9 cooks realized that not only was it less expensive to cook your own meals it made them feel better and it tasted good. A win win for everyone.
Both of these books are writing about the food movement that has taken place in the last few years throughout the country and how each author has taken part in it. I enjoyed them both. Bi-Rite is an incredibly unique marketplace that would be well served in any community. I'd love to open one in my neighborhood supporting all the local food vendors that are cropping up all over the area. Let's hope that we see more Bi-Rite type stores open across the country supporting community and local farmers. Buy the Bi-Rite book. A worthy read with some terrific recipes to boot.