Category Archives: Going Green and Sustainable

Fresh, Local Produce Delivered to Your Door & A Food Gal Giveaway

A peek at what a Full Circle produce delivery box contains. (Photo courtesy of Full Circle)

There’s a new organic produce delivery company in town.

And its name is Full Circle.

You may remember reading a couple months ago about how I got to try out the service for a test run. It was definitely convenient to find a box on my doorstep each week, brimming with seasonal veggies and fruits.

The company, which started in Carnation, WA, launched its service in the Bay Area earlier this summer. It delivers as far north as San Rafael, east to Concord and south to San Jose.

You choose the size of box to be delivered each week, depending upon the size of your household. I chose the smallest option, the “Seed Box” ($20.95), which is perfect for one or two people and comes complete with enough produce for about 15 servings total.

What’s particularly helpful is that you can customize your box. If there’s someone in your family who hates beets or broccoli, you can opt never to have that included in your delivery.

You also can check your online account a few days before each delivery to see what your next box will likely contain, making it easier to plan your meals or shop for additional accompaniments at your local grocery store.

What’s more, you can add gourmet grocery items to your box at an additional cost. Full Circle collaborates with a host of artisan producers, many of them organic, to sell everything from bread to artisan jams to fresh, pasture-raised chicken. I ordered the wild shrimp once and they were nearly lobster-like in their succulence.

Moreover, you can put your deliver on hold or cancel your subscription at any time.

Want to give it a whirl? Keep reading…

Contest: Five Food Gal readers will get a chance to win two weeks’ worth of Full Circle produce deliveries for free. Essentially, you’ll win an $84 credit to use after creating an account. The credit is enough for two free boxes of the largest-size delivery, the “Harvest,” which will feed 3-6 people. Or if you have a smaller household, you can stretch the credit out for a longer period of time by choosing a smaller-size box of produce. After your credited amount runs out, you can either choose to continue the service by paying for it on your own or you can choose to cancel your subscription.

Entries are limited to those who live within Full Circle’s delivery areas in California, Washington state, Idaho and Alaska. Click here for more details.

Entries will be accepted through midnight PST Sept. 1. Winner will be announced Sept. 3.

How to win?

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The Newest in Urban Farming at Ecopia in Campbell

A bounty of lettuces from Ecopia Farms.

Look closely at that bowl of beautiful, baby salad greens.

If only you could reach out and grab a few leaves to taste, you’d be amazed at their sweetness, pepperiness and all-around intensity of flavor.

What makes these lettuces different is that all were grown indoors under LED lights, using a fraction of the water a conventional outdoor farm would.

Ecopia Farms in Campbell is unlike any other agricultural endeavor — housed indoors in a non-descript, out-of-the-way warehouse in Campbell.

Utilizing the latest technology and know-how, it was founded by a couple of tech giants: a former CEO of Solectron, and a former president of Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space.

With water and land increasingly precious commodities, their goal is to create a way of farming that is not only more efficient and sustainable, but replicable in high-density urban areas.

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Full Circle Now Delivers to the Bay Area

A typical small box of produce box from the new Full Circle delivery service.

Once a week for the past couple of weeks, a box just like the one above has landed on my front porch bright and early in the morning.

Besides organic fruits and veggies, its contents have also included this:

Artisan strawberry jam by Inna Jam.

And this:

Organic firm tofu from Oakland's Hodo Soy Beanery.

And this:

Raw milk Italian farmstead cheese.

All thanks to Full Circle, an organic produce delivery service, which started in Carnation, WA, and just launched in the Bay Area.

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Cherry Time, Sunset Celebration Weekend & More

Dig a spoon into this Bing cherry sundae. (Photo courtesy of Bluestem Brasserie

Cherries Galore at Local Restaurants

Who can resist sweet, crisp cherries? Not San Francisco chefs, who are featuring them on many menus.

At Bluestem Brasserie in San Francisco, indulge in cherries in multiple forms in one over-the-top dessert: gelee, granita, fresh and marinated in Cherry Heering Liqueur.

You get all that in the “Bing Cherry Sundae,” that’s also loaded with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. If that weren’t enough, it also comes with chocolate chip cookies. Oh my!

At Vitrine at the St. Regis in San Francisco, Executive Chef Romuald Feger pays homage to his grandmother by recreating her Alsatian black cherry clafoutis. During cherry season, she’d bake it daily, offering him a big slice after school.

His version comes with Sicilian pistachio ice cream. To pair with it, he recommends an Alsatian Gewurztraminer.

The whimsical "foie gras sphere'' at Michael Mina restaurant. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)

At Michael Mina in San Francisco, enjoy cherries in two unique savory preparations. First, the “Foie Gras Sphere” that is a tiny, rich mouthful of cherry and amarone-scented foie gras. It’s playfully shaped like a red sphere with a stem on top to mimic a real cherry. You’ll find  it as part of the “hors d’oeuvres platter” ($16).

Second, cherry puree is a pivotal component of the “Vacca Rosa Risotto with Cherry and Squab Ragu.” The rich Vacca Rosa cheese, similar to Parmigiano Reggiano, is a striking counterpoint to the sweet cherries. The dish is part of the tasting menu, but also can be ordered a la carte.

“Tango & Tapas” Soiree and a Discount for Food Gal Readers

Learn how to make mouth-watering tapas — then get a lesson in the tango to burn up all those calories.

Yes, it’s two demos in one with the 6:30 p.m. June 7 “Tango & Tapas” event at Circolo in San Francisco.

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A New Farmed Salmon

A new farmed salmon. (Photo courtesy of Verlasso)

When it comes to deciding whether to eat farmed salmon, the choice is not always clear cut.

Sure, farmed salmon in general gets a bad rap — and deservedly so. The Environmental Defense Fund issued a health advisory for farmed salmon because of high levels of PCBs. It takes  about three or four pounds of wild feeder fish to grow one pound of farmed salmon. Waste from open-water pens pollutes surrounding ocean waters. And the farmed fish can sometimes escape, posing potential problems for wild fish populations that can be affected by their parasites or diseases.

U.S. farmed freshwater coho salmon, though, gets a “Best Choice” recommendation from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’sSeafood Watch” guide because it is farmed in inland tanks, lessening the potential spread of disease and pollution. They also require less wild feeder fish to grow.

Some chefs also favor a Scottish salmon, marketed as Loch Duart, which is farmed in the waters off the northwest coast of Sutherland. It’s billed as a sustainable alternative, but it, too, relies on feed made of fish meal and oil.

Now, into the fray comes a new farmed salmon, this one from the waters of Patagonia, Chile.

Known as Verlasso Salmon, this new farmed Atlantic salmon just launched last summer and is starting to show up in markets nationwide. Berkeley Bowl, which started carrying it in February, is the only retailer in the Bay Area selling it so far. You can find it at the seafood counter at both of its Berkeley stores for $14.80 per pound.

What makes this farmed salmon different?

Instead of needing three or four pounds of wild feeder fish to grow one pound of farmed salmon, Verlasso has developed a process to get that down to a one-to-one ratio. How? By supplementing the fish meal  feed with a special kind of yeast that is rich in omega 3s, which salmon typically get from ingesting other fish. In the future, the company hopes to get that ratio down even more, so that the farmed salmon can be raised with little to no fish meal at all, says Scott Nichols, director of  the Delaware-based Verlasso.

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