How You Like Dem Apples?

Perhaps one of the best things about this Summer-Fall hybrid season is apples! As many MCM shoppers know, everything you thought you knew about apples before is probably not even half the story. With over 30 years of experience, Dave Read more

What did the Mission say?

As I approached the youth surveyor’s booth at MCM last Thursday, all six surveyors were engaged in conversation with a passer-by. They looked relaxed and in charge, fielding questions about where to use the bathroom even as they explained Read more

La Cocina Entrepreneurs Hit the Streets

Over the past six years, La Cocina’s Street Food Festival has become a San Francisco staple. The festival features innovative food, education and discussion, and a chance for the SF community to share experience and taste with each other. At the Read more

How You Like Dem Apples?

Posted on by Kailey Ulland in Blog | Leave a comment

pink-pearl1Perhaps one of the best things about this Summer-Fall hybrid season is apples! As many MCM shoppers know, everything you thought you knew about apples before is probably not even half the story.

With over 30 years of experience, Dave Hale and the whole Hale Apple Farm crew can find the fruit to mach your taste buds. Whether you are looking for something tart and crisp to bite or something soft to bake, they will have it. At the farm, you can expect to see cameos, red delicious, rome beauties, fujis, and more! However, the apple business has not stayed as sweet as the delicious fruit over the years. Dave-Pink-Pearl-2Back in Sonoma County, where Hale Apple Farm makes the magic happen, apple orchards have been moved aside for more profitable grapes. Even counting a two-buck-chuck, wine is just more profitable than apple juice. That, and because most people separate their favorite apples by flavor rather than orchard, branding is also more profitable in the wine industry, than for apples. There was an applesauce boom during WWII, but since then the price of an apple has fallen and changed the game for farmers. Sonoma went from 17,000 acres of apple orchards in 1947 to just over 2,000 today. For Hale Apple Farm, this means that they have had to down scale a number of times and now only sell directly at farmers markets like ours and to other trusted organizations. For the rest of us, this means that many grocery stores only carry a small selection of possible apple varieties. These apples usually come from orchards that have sold out to food corporations. Large scale production may make economic sense, but the flavor and variety of the apple can be sacrificed.

420ca346-d1f8-49ea-8c8e-33e7c59a4330Lucky for us, but this is not the route that Dave at Hale Apple Farms took. Up in Sonoma County, he still has his orchard with rows and rows of delicious apples ready to be sold at markets. Granted, the life of an apple farmer is not all cinnamon sticks and cider. In order to keep selling his fruit, Dave spends many long days driving to different markets, packing and repacking, driving and selling, to make it all work. “Like anything else, if you love it, it does not really matter what you have to do”. And thanks to that attitude, you can see Dave smiling and selling his sweet surprises Thursday to MCM. So if you stop by their stand and ask Dave, “how you like them apples?”, expect a passionate response.

What did the Mission say?

Posted on by Kaiya Gordon in Blog, Mercado Plaza | Leave a comment

As I approached the youth surveyor’s booth at MCM last Thursday, all six surveyors were engaged in conversation with a passer-by. They looked relaxed and in charge, fielding questions about where to use the bathroom even as they explained the results of their survey to curious market goers.

surveyors

One of the surveyors, Daniel Mendoza, held out a fresh strawberry to me, asking if I’d like to vote for the permanent name of the anticipated plaza. When I asked him which name was winning, he laughed. “La Placita is ahead right now,” said Mendoza. “It’s cuter.”

Daniel Cortes, Daniel Mendoza, and Giovanni Carreño ask market goers to vote for the permanent name of the plaza.

Daniel Cortes, Daniel Mendoza, and Giovanni Carreño ask market goers to vote for the permanent name of the plaza.

It’s no surprise that the surveyors are comfortable––they live locally, are fluent in Spanish, and spent the last month distributing surveys at the market and throughout the Mission District. The 30-minute surveys addressed community opinions about the Bartlett plaza project, which the City plans to finish constructing in the spring of 2015. To prepare, the surveyors asked Mission locals about what kind of programming, art, and facilities they’d like to see at the plaza.

In four weeks, the surveyors turned out an impressive 199 surveys––only one survey away from their initial goal of 200. And the response from the community was strong; Susy Rojas, one of the surveyors, said that “generally people were actually friendly––they were pretty open about completing the survey.”

Sometimes, the friendly attitude went too far. “One guy liked taking the survey too much,” Rojas said, laughing. “It took us two hours to finish that one!”

Many people, said Rojas, “thought the plaza would create a lot more connections within the community. They were excited for more programming, especially for kids.” Others were interested in health related programs, Rojas said.

About 95% of those surveyed either agreed or strongly agreed that the new plaza will aid community connections.

About 95% of those surveyed either agreed or strongly agreed that the new plaza will aid community connections.

Programming was not the only interest of those surveyed; one aspect of the plaza that nearly everyone could agree on was the presence of public art. “The majority of the respondents wanted art,” said Rojas. “They wanted the paintings and art to represent diversity.”

In the Mission District, diversity is a touchy subject. The planned plaza, which is slated for construction on Bartlett Street, straddles two different populations within the Mission––the historic, Latin@ population, and the newer population of young adults and Caucasian families.

But Rojas said that she was surprised by how open the Latin@s she surveyed were about the project. “I expected a lot more close-minded responses,” said Rojas. “But seeing the majority (63.33 %) of survey participants be Latin@ made me think… the Mission isn’t inaccessible yet.”  While many respondents noted that affordable housing was a problem that the Mission District was facing, the issue of increased housing costs didn’t overshadow a desire for community building. In fact, said Rojas, Latin@s she interviewed were particularly enthusiastic about how the plaza might create more opportunities for their children to learn and play. And she agreed that community programming was integral to healthy relationships within the neighborhood. “I would love to see more community connections,” she said. “I think that’s desperately needed. You never know what you can learn by leaving your house.”

“But seeing the majority (63.33 %) of survey participants be Latin@ made me think… the Mission isn’t inaccessible yet.”

Along with a majority Latin@ response, 46.46% of those surveyed had lived in the Mission for more than 10 years.

Along with a majority Latin@ response, 46.46% of those surveyed had lived in the Mission for more than 10 years.

For the surveyors, that sense of community existed with each other, as well. “I liked messing around with my coworkers,” said Rojas. “That was fun. I liked having competitions to see who could get the most surveys completed.” And administering so many surveys helped Rojas gain interpersonal skills as well. “I was initially apprehensive––I’m not so open to talking to strange people,” she said. “But in the end, it was pretty good. I learned to go at it.”

Susy Rojas and Nathaly De Leon answer questions at Mission Community Market.

Susy Rojas and Nathaly De Leon answer questions at Mission Community Market.

Rojas noted that the surveys also helped her connect with Mission Community Market. “You get to see a lot of different characters at the market,” said Rojas.

“It surprises me a little bit. In the market I’ve noticed a lot of Caucasians but was surprised to some cultural diversity as well.”

Rojas admitted that her perception of the market had changed after her experience. “I want more people to come out,” she said. “Some of my acquaintances told me I was working for the yuppies at the beginning of the summer. Now I know–– don’t judge a book by its cover. Don’t judge this organization without coming to the market and learning.”

“Now I know–– don’t judge a book by its cover. Don’t judge this organization without coming to the market and learning.”


The surveyors will be available to answer any questions about the plaza and their survey data this Sunday, August 24th, at their booth on Valencia St. between 21st-22nd Streets during Sunday Streets.

La Cocina Entrepreneurs Hit the Streets

Posted on by Kaiya Gordon in 4505 Meats, Blog, Chaac Mool, HellaVegan Eats, La Cocina, Sugarfoot Grits | Leave a comment

Over the past six years, La Cocina’s Street Food Festival has become a San Francisco staple. The festival features innovative food, education and discussion, and a chance for the SF community to share experience and taste with each other.

At the center of all the flags, festivity, and great-eating are passionate woman. That’s right––along with filling your stomach, the festival is a radical way to support local female entrepreneurs.

La Cocina started in 2005 and is based in the Mission District of San Francisco. The organization provides training, practice-spaces, and support to local food entrepreneurs, focusing on low-income women who want to break into the food industry. Traditionally, working in food can be difficult for those from under-privileged areas, because running a successful food business requires a large overhead cost. And, like so many other industries, being a woman–particularly a woman of color–presents challenges of its own: lower pay and fewer opportunities. Even though San Francisco is the home to many non-male powerhouses creatively running and owning their own business, the public image of a chef is still male.

That’s why La Cocina’s innovative program is so important––it creates space for and amplifies the voices of women who are passionate about food, San Francisco, and their families. La Cocina describes this process, and the content of their program on their website. You can also watch their 6-minute film called “Tameles & Piroshkis: A Journey Stuffed with Love” (but be warned: you might cry). Featured in the video are two of La Cocina’s incubator businesses. Other incubators might be familiar faces to you from MCM––Chaac Mool, Sugarfoot Grits, and HellaVegan Eats are all connected to the La Cocina program.

“[La Cocina] is about the general day to day support,” said Stephanie Fields, owner of Sugarfoot Grits. “During my first outdoor festival they came and stood with me for my health inspection. Health inspections are scary––it’s like Mary Poppins checking the dust under everything. It sounds boring, but that support means a lot.”

What is the festival?

La Cocina’s Street Food Festival is a multi-day celebration of local food vendors and top chefs. This year, the festival will be kicked off on Friday, August 15th, with the new Friday Night Family Meal, which will feature unlimited varieties of fried chicken from 11 different chefs hailing from Seattle, Oakland, Austin, Alabama, and San Francisco.

The main event––a street food festival boasting over 80 vendors––will be hosted on Saturday, August 16th in the Mission District. On Folsom St. between 20th and 26th, the city will be transformed into an urban food paradise. Expect big crowds, big portions, and even bigger smiles.

La Cocina notes on the event page that the most important part of the street fest are the women who “drive and inspire the festival every year and serve food any street, neighborhood, and the whole Bay Area should be proud of. By serving food, they serve the community, and continue to make the Bay Area’s foodscape one of the most vibrant and diverse communities out there.”

Lastly, the La Cocina community is providing a platform to talk about food with the La Cocina Food & Entrepreneurship Conference on Sunday, Autust 17th. The conference includes conversations about fair prices for ethnic food, food manufacturing, how to use food to bring communities together, and interactive workshops! To be part of the conversation, buy a ticket online. Don’t worry––if you want to go but don’t think you can afford it, La Cocina is funding scholarships.

What should I eat?

As much as you possibly can! Make sure to visit MCM’s own HellaVegan Eats, who will be serving potsticker burritos–a sweet and sticky meal packed with rice, vegetables, potsticker skin and wrapped in a tortilla–”chicken” and waffle mini bites, and their incredible strawberry-watermelon-basil aqua fresca (seriously, how does such complex flavor come from water?!). HellaVegan describes their food as a “multi-cultural explosion of flavor,” and their dishes always deliver color and taste. You’ve seen them every Thursday this summer, handing out their hellafornia burritos, crunchy salads topped with tofu or tempeh, and vegan cupcakes to hungry crowds at our mercado.

And don’t miss 4505 Meats, another MCM favorite, who will be serving the festival with “Frankaroni” and cheeseburgers. Last year, their macaroni rendition caused swarms of hungry cheese-lovers to crowd their tent, so be sure to visit early!

If you’re still hungry, finish the day with something sweet––try one of the eight treats from this list by 7X7SF.

At Mission Community Market, we appreciate all of the hard work that our vendors put in. As an event celebrating local talent and dedication, La Cocina’s Street Food Festival is a remarkable opportunity to engage with the SF food community and share light and love with the streets of San Francisco.

A Sweet Addition to MCM

Posted on by Kaiya Gordon in Blog, La Cocina, Sugarfoot Grits, Vendor of the Week | 1 Comment

A woman hangs out of a window, leaning over the edge to serve grits. On the other side of the window, the grits are cooked in small batches, with lots of cream, cheese, and hot sauce.

That’s the vision that Stephanie Fields had before she started Sugarfoot Grits. A southerner passionate about food, Fields came to Sugarfoot Grits with her favorite food and a great nickname. “Sugarfoot is a family nickname,” Fields says. “My uncle called me Sugarfoot when I worked in his restaurant. He gave me a lot of love.”

"Sugarfoot is a family nickname.

“Sugarfoot is a family nickname. My uncle called me Sugarfoot when I worked in his restaurant. He gave me a lot of love.”

But before Fields was dreaming of corn, she was a long-time Mission Mercado shopper. The southern-style greens that she serves alongside her bowls of grits come from Blue House Farms, and she supports many farmers by stocking her personal kitchen with their produce. Now, Fields is taking on a new position at MCM––one behind the vendor table.

Sugarfoot Grits initially expressed interest in selling at MCM in 2013, before Fields was accepted to La Cocina program and expanded her business. “I wasn’t ready then,” Fields says. “But Emily [MCM's market manager] kept up with me and now, I’m ready.”

La Cocina is a San Francisco initiative based in the Mission District that works to give low-income women the tools that they need for success in the food industry.

To Fields, the support that came from La Cocina meant everything for her business. “I had decided that I was going to do the business no matter what,” Fields says. “But in retrospect, I’m not sure that I could have done it without [La Cocina's] help.” And the training that La Cocina gave behind the tent didn’t stop after Fields brought Sugarfoot Grits to market. “It’s about the general day to day support,” says Fields. “During my first outdoor festival they came and stood with me for my health inspection. Health inspections are scary––it’s like Mary Poppins checking the dust under everything,” she says, laughing. “It sounds boring, but that support means a lot.”

“I had decided that I was going to do the business no matter what. But in retrospect, I’m not sure that I could have done it without [La Cocina's] help.”

La Cocina also supported Fields through a “night market,” which was the first market that Fields had ever done. “We had a line of 20 people at all times,” she says. “It was crazy.”

But all of her work with La Cocina, as well as the plethora of pop-ups that she has done over the years, has armed Fields with the tools she needs to run a successful business––and the flavors she needs to make her grits delicious. Fields cooks her grits in small batches on-site, which means that each bowl is fresh and hot. The on-site cooking also serves as a demonstration for customers. “It makes it more interesting,” says Fields.

Fields’ corn grits are organic, and cooked with cream and cheese sourced locally. Fields tops the grits with more cheese, and southern-style greens, braised in apple-cider vinegar and with lots of added mushrooms. “I try to make it more vegetarian friendly,” Fields says. The mushrooms add savory-flavor to the grits and make them more hearty. But Fields’ grits aren’t only for vegetarians––she has pulled-pork, too, and plans on bringing chicken and dumplings to the market in future weeks. Other menu plans include sweet potato pies and a tomato-based soup with beef, lima beans, and corn.

Perhaps the flavors in her grits are welcoming because they don’t come from a traditional kitchen. “I have no culinary training,” Fields says, “I started cooking for myself for real after college.” During that time, Fields says that she was “cooking lots and lots of vegetables and couscous.”

“I learned about food then,” Fields notes. Then, in 2012, grits became her signature dish. “Grits are my favorite food,” she says. “I started bringing cheese grits to parties, and I started having pop-ups.”

Fields’ food is more than a warm bowl––to her, grits are a connection to her home and family. “I cooked grits growing up,” she says. “I’m from North Carolina, and [the grits] connect me to my family and cultural lineage. The South has a rich but difficult history. This is a positive way to connect with people.” And, Fields notes, laughing “In San Francisco, being from the South makes me special.”

“I’m from North Carolina, and [the grits] connect me to my family and cultural lineage. The South has a rich but difficult history. This is a positive way to connect with people.”

Now, Fields has a chance to bring her favorite food to a new audience. “I spend most of my time in the Mission District,” she says, “and I’m just glad to be in the neighborhood.” And so far, that audience has welcomed Sugarfoot Grits with open arms. “I had one lady who was really sweet, who said ‘welcome to the neighborhood,’” Fields says. “That made my day.”

Shop Whole Foods Potrero and Castro to Support MCM

Posted on by Rosi Bustamante in Blog | Leave a comment

Thanks to Whole Foods Market, when you shop at the Potrero or Market-Castro stores, bring in your own bags for groceries and you’ll have the option of receiving a 5¢ credit (per bag) or to donate the 5¢ to MCM. Our organization was selected for July and August and at the end of this time, MCM will receive the monies that have been donated.  Please shop at these Whole Food locations from now until Aug. 31 and support your Mission Mercado!  Tell your friends, and thanks to Whole Foods Market!

Nickels

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