I went to see the Slow Food market and demonstration garden, in front of City Hall. I pretty much walk past there on the way to the gym, so it’s hard to miss. I hadn’t gone to look at the garden yet, construction started right after Pride cleared out and it will be there a few more weeks. The garden is nice, with raised beds of both native plants and home garden staples done as dense companion plantings. I believe it was all done with organic techniques.
There was a small stage for presentations, where I heard about the group that built the demonstration garden and are also installing home backyard gardens in San Francisco neighborhoods as a pilot program. I asked how they intend to make their program accessible to the rest of the city who, like me, don’t have a yard of any sort. The suggestion was find a neighbor who would let you garden in their backyard, which was less than helpful a suggestion. They want to eventually move on to productive gardens on public land and I can support that. But right now it’s more like publicly funded nice backyards for San Francisco property owners, already an elite group in a city where very few people can have a garden. I’d like to see what they are able to accomplish.
The market is a collection of stalls with local food products, mainly fresh produce, each with one or at most a handful of items. Yesterday I bought some dry farmed tomatoes, which were gone when I came back today. I didn’t get to sample the prepared foods because I was there too early, and by the time I got back today the ones I was interested in were gone. There were a lot of empty stalls, although still plenty of people.
I like the idea of slow food, and sustainability generally, although I get irritated at the excess attitude that sometimes comes with it. For example, to discourage buying bottled water there were filtered water stations. If you didn’t have (or buy) a reusable bottle you could get water in a biodegradable cup (with the admonition to save it for refills.) As I was getting my bottle filled I heard someone behind me, obviously unaware of what was going on, loudly announce her disgust at the water station handing out “plastic” cups. Because no real environmentally aware person would ever use plastic. For anything.
After my visit I went around the corner to the nearest Subway and got myself a fast-food sandwich. Because it was reasonably healthy (compared to the Burger King down the street) and the right amount of food for a reasonable price. I wasn’t interested in standing in line for twenty minutes for what was basically a fancy organic version of festival food, anything I actually wanted to try being no longer available.
I don’t have a lot of patience for attitude from those who try to convince me I’m a Bad Person for not agreeing 100% with their vision of how things should be done. I drink city tap water and like it, I don’t need expensive bottled water or fancy filter systems. San Francisco tap water is damn good and I grew up with some horrid stuff in Florida.
When I did have a garden I used a combination of techniques including chemical fertilizer, because that’s what worked for me. One of my neighbors quite pointedly turned her nose up at an offer of fresh herbs because they weren’t all organically grown. Another claimed that feeding your family non-organic food was child abuse. I’d love to cook everything from fresh produce bought from the farmers market, but I can’t and still maintain a professional job. When I did, it was because I didn’t have a choice. I baked all my own bread too, with a sourdough starter because flour and water are cheap and packaged yeast is not.
I’m all for showing the best of what you have to offer, but I don’t need to be dragged into another political fight over ideology. I would like to see Slow Food be more approachable for normal people who just want to learn something and try a few different things without having to sign up for the whole activist lifestyle. The market was a good start at that but there is still a ways to go.