Category Archives: Going Green and Sustainable

Oakland’s Renewal Mill Takes Reuse To Another Level

Renewal Mill's brownie mix does both a body and a planet good.
Renewal Mill’s brownie mix does both a body and a planet good.

See those deep dark, fudgy brownies above that are just calling your name?

Not only are they gluten-free and vegan, but they have a couple of very unexpected and intriguing ingredients in them:

Namely, spent vanilla beans leftover from making vanilla extract, and spent non-GMO, organic okara, the byproduct of soymilk production from premier tofu-maker Hodo Foods of Oakland, no less.

Renewal Mill, based in Oakland and helmed by an all-woman team, is on the noble mission to take food waste from large food manufacturers and convert it into new, delicious, and nutritious uses. Recently, I had a chance to try samples of a few of its products.

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Summery Creamy Corn Pasta & A Discount Code For A Great Farm Box Delivery

Fresh corn is used two ways in this delicious pasta dish.
Fresh corn is used two ways in this delicious pasta dish.

A tangle of pasta. Dolloped with fresh corn kernels, basil leaves, and soft cheese. All lavished with a naturally sweet corn sauce that’s creamy yet not heavy in the least.

If that dish doesn’t say summer, what does?

And if that doesn’t get your mouth watering, what will?

When the folks behind the Bay Area’s Farm Box company delivered one of their stellar produce boxes over the weekend, it’s no surprise that’s the dish I was inspired to make first.

What this coming weekend's Farm Box contains.
What this coming weekend’s Farm Box contains.

Farm Box is a weekly curated farmers market box that customers can get delivered to their door or pick up at the Ferry Plaza farmers market on Saturdays or the Menlo Park farmers market on Sundays. The company was co-founded by Andreas Winsberg, son of David Winsberg, who owns Happy Quail Farms in East Palo Alto, a premier grower of peppers, including the beloved pimentos de Padron.

Each week, Andreas and his team put together a different Farm Box, made up of peak-produce from small local farmers who sell regularly at the Ferry Building and Menlo Park farmers markets.

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Sigona’s Launches Home Delivery Produce Boxes

The mango and nectarine in my Sigona's Home Delivery produce box inspired me to make this.
The mango and nectarine in my Sigona’s Home Delivery produce box inspired me to make this.

Everyone’s favorite family-owned fresh produce market on the Peninsula has started offering home delivery of its stellar fruits and veggies.

It’s a new service by Sigona, spurred by the decline of its office delivery program due to shelter-in-place.

Sigona’s Farmers Market has brick-and-mortar locations in Redwood City and the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, which offer more extensive offerings through curbside pick-up or Instacart delivery.

But the separate Sigona’s Home Deliveries sure is convenient if you happen to live within its delivery zone. That encompasses: Millbrae, Hillsborough, Burlingame, San Mateo, Foster City, Belmont, San Carlos, Redwood Shores, Emerald Hills, Redwood City, Atherton, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Mountain View, Sunnyvale and Cupertino.

The home delivery boxes range in size, suited to feeding anywhere from 1 to 4 people. Choose boxes that highlight fruits only, veggies only, berries only, dried fruits and nuts, or a combination of fruits and veggies. You can even add on a seasonal berry pie ($17.99) from Pietisserie, Upper Crust Bakery or Gizdich Ranch.

Test driving the new Sigona Home Delivery Fruit & Veggie Box.
Test driving the new Sigona Home Delivery Fruit & Veggie Box.
The contents of last week's box.
The contents of last week’s box.

Delivery is free for orders over $75; for orders under $75, there is a delivery fee of $3. Deliveries are made on Wednesdays and Fridays, and orders must be finalized three days ahead of time.

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A Taste of California’s Only Commercial Iberian Pig Farm

Encina Farms Iberian pork loin chops grilled with just salt and pepper.
Encina Farms Iberian pork loin chops grilled with just salt and pepper.

Since last summer, Helmut Drews, a former tech acquisitions specialist, and Madrid-native Alberto Solis, a founder of the San Mateo incubator kitchen known as KitchenTown, have been cultivating a dream.

They have been raising Iberian pigs on their Encina Farms, the only commercial endeavor of its kind in California nurturing these specialty Spanish swines from which the luxurious jamon Iberico derives.

While Encina Farms’ own jamon Iberico is still a few years off — it takes a minimum of two years to cure the buttery ham leg — other pork products made from this distinctive black-footed, acorn-devouring breed can be enjoyed now.

Look for Encina Farms selling its Iberian pork cuts every Friday at the St. Helena’s farmers market and Saturday at the Napa farmers market.

The farm also offers limited delivery in the Bay Area, plus shipping to other parts of California, as well as Arizona, Oregon and Washington.

After writing a story about the founding of the farm last year for the San Francisco Chronicle, I was eager to try the pork for myself, so I splurged on a shipment.

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Good Things Come In — Farm Box

Some of the impeccable produce from small farms in this past Saturday's Farm Box.
Some of the impeccable produce from small farms in this past Saturday’s Farm Box.

Andreas Winsberg is used to growing things. The son of a farmer — David Winsberg of East Palo Alto’s Happy Quail Farms that started the craze for pimientos de Padron in California — he’s been helping his dad plant those prized Spanish peppers and sell them at the San Francisco Ferry Building farmers market since he can remember.

Now, it’s this 25-year-old’s turn to germinate something special of his own.

In late-March, just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit full bore in the Bay Area and shelter-in-place restrictions took hold, he created Farm Box, a weekly curated farmers market box that customers can get delivered to their door or pick up at the Ferry Plaza farmers market on Saturdays or the Menlo Park farmers market on Sundays.

Farm Box was developed by 409 + Co, a design agency that Andreas founded with fellow 20-something alums of Pennsylvania’s Haverford College, Stephen Davis and Jessie Lamworth.

They didn’t set out to do this. But realizing just how complicated buying groceries and food was about to become for people, they rose to the challenge to build out a new web-delivery business to help small-scale, local farmers, whose goods are so perishable, reach more customers.

Contactless delivery to my porch.
Contactless delivery to my porch.
The reveal of what's inside.
The reveal of what’s inside.

“Seeing what my dad was going through, and fearing that the farmers market might shut down, was the impetus,’’ Andreas says. “We’re not in it to get rich, but to help farmers and others who need the boost now.’’

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