Tag Archives: Novella Carpenter

Meat matters: 2 new films focus on hot issues

Ashton Kutcher is the executive producer of a mini-documentary about Bay Area butcher shops which features Berkeley’s own The Local Butcher Shop, along with 4505 Meats and Avedano’s Holly Park Market in San Francisco.

The subject of meat, America’s industrial meat system and the growing movement towards more sustainable, humane practices is a hot one right now.

On Feb. 4 UC Berkeley is hosting a free screening of American Meat a pro-farmer documentary which takes a critical look at cattle, hog, and chicken production in the U.S. and examines the viability of moving the industry over to more sustainable practices. A discussion will follow the screening, moderated by Novella Carpenter, author of the best-selling memoir Farm City and co-owner of Berkeley’s BioFuel Oasis which, as well as selling bio-fuel to cars, offers urban farming classes. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley acupuncturist finds bliss in seasonal food

Simple sauerkraut: A popular fermented food. Photo: Nishanga Bliss
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“We Americans are eating ourselves to death” sounds like a total Debbie Downer way to begin a book, doesn’t it? But the recently released cookbook Real Food All Year, by Berkeley’s Nishanga Bliss, offers an opportunity to explore seasonal eating in tandem with the principles of Chinese medicine and holistic nutrition in a manner that isn’t overly negative or earnest.

Bliss, a professor of Chinese medicine at the Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine College (AIMC) in downtown Berkeley, where she works as an acupuncturist, nutritionist and herbalist, peppers her book, published by local press New Harbinger, with her professional expertise. She focuses on the healing potential of seasonal eating and cooking to support the health of key organs and overall energy.

So readers will find cheery chapters such as “Feeling Spring,” which encourages eaters to embrace the appearance of fresh, new greens at the market, cleanse, detoxify the liver, and cook for shorter times, with less oil, and lower temperatures than in winter.  … Continue reading »

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BioFuel Oasis: 8 years on, and still powered by idealism

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By Nathan Pensky

Even in a community as amenable to progressive values as Berkeley, there are few small businesses so powered by idealism as BioFuel Oasis, which this month is celebrating its eighth birthday.

An environmentalist mainstay since 2003, the company specializes in the sale of biodiesel fuel chemically rendered from recycled vegetable oil, and shipped in from an off-site manufacturer.

Since moving to its current location at 1441 Ashby Ave., the company has diversified its product line to include urban farming materials such as organic chicken feed and beekeeping supplies, as well as teaching classes in DIY practices like beekeeping and home fermentation. Its clientele has swelled from a few environmentally conscious Berkeley residents to a loyal, 3,000-strong customer base.

As an all female/worker-run business geared entirely towards providing local residents with clean-fuel solutions and encouraging urban farming, to say that BioFuel Oasis is a unique exercise in entrepreneurism would be an understatement.

One could rightly say that the five owner-employees who make up the company’s staff are activists first and businesswomen second. They are: Margaret Farrow, Ace Anderson, Melissa Hardy, Jennifer Radtke, and noted author Novella Carpenter.

“We started selling biodiesel out of a little warehouse in west Berkeley,” said co-founder and co-owner Jennifer Radtke. “No one in Northern California was making biodiesel when we started. And so because of us and our distribution center, there are now places around here making it.” … Continue reading »

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Faith-based urban farm opens in Berkeley

Families enjoying the festivities at the Urban Adamah Grand Opening and Farm Festival yesterday./Photos: Sarah Henry
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Sunday marked the grand opening of Urban Adamah, the first faith-based, modern urban farm in West Berkeley, at 1050 Parker Street near San Pablo Avenue, opposite Fantasy Studios. The one-acre farm with Jewish roots offers a residential fellowship program for young adults, summer camps for kids and teens, and plans to help feed the needy in the community.

On an uncharacteristically warm June day, several hundred people, including many families with young children, turned out to tour the farm, meet chickens, bake pizzas, pickle cucumbers, make ice cream, and whip up bicycle smoothies — as well as learn a little about the philosophy behind the farm, currently boasting greens, squashes, tomatoes, and other summer crops.

Local urban farming icon Novella Carpenter welcomed the newbies to the neighborhood, along with Assemblymember Nancy Skinner and Councilmember Darryl Moore.  Fellow West Berkeley urban farmer Jim Montgomery, who walked his goats over to say hello, was a big hit with the younger set. … Continue reading »

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Urban homesteader challenges city on sale of edibles

Sophie Hahn, founder of Berkeley Edible Garden Initiative
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Should city dwellers be allowed to sell their backyard bounty?

Sophie Hahn thinks so. The North Berkeley resident wants to share the abundance from her residential produce plot and offset some costs she incurs maintaining her edible garden.

But Hahn ran into hiccups with the city last year trying to get her idea off the ground. “I had no idea it would be so complicated,” she says. “It’s actually easier in Berkeley to have a pot collective than to have a vegetable collective,” a frustrated Hahn told  a New York Times reporter in August.

Or pretty much any other home-based business. That’s because Berkeley’s zoning codes prohibit selling or otherwise conducting commerce outside a house in a residential neighborhood. Never mind that many residents (this writer included) toil from inside their homes. City codes allow for small, low-to-moderate impact home businesses, such as piano teachers, explains Dan Marks, director of planning and development for the city. … Continue reading »

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Urban farmer Willow Rosenthal plants seeds in Berkeley

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The aptly named Willow Rosenthal grew up around trees in Sonoma County in a community that farmed its own food. Raised by hippies who didn’t have a lot of money, she nonetheless ate well. She also learned how to grow her own food by working on an organic farm and for a local nursery.

She came to the Bay Area in 1997 knowing she wanted to do social-justice work; an internship with Food First and volunteering with the Organic Consumers Association followed.

When she moved to West Oakland, Rosenthal was immediately struck by the absence of greenery, how much vacant, unused land there was, and the lack of grocery stores. She had landed in a community bounded by three major freeways that is also home to a busy port and extensive industrial pollution. People in this predominantly low-income, African American and Latino neighborhood had nowhere close by to buy healthy, affordable food. The area had plenty of corner liquor stores and fast-food joints, but not a single full-service supermarket. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Bites: Aaron Betesh, Blue Heron Farms

Cooking up kale.
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For 10 years, Blue Heron Farms vendor Aaron Betesh has been selling organic vegetables to customers at all three Berkeley Farmers’ Markets.

Betesh is part of the Blue Heron crew which, for much of the year, hawks salad greens, Asian greens, herbs and flower — along with carrots, kale, and broccoli.

The produce comes from a small family farm in Corralitos, near Watsonville, run by Lori Perry and Dennis Tamura.

Farmers’ Market customers don’t always realize that not … Continue reading »

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Eat Real Lit Fest features Berkeley scribes

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The second annual Eat Real Festival, a three-day showcase of the best of the Bay Area’s street food carts, local growers, artisan beer and wine purveyors, cheese makers, urban homesteaders, and other local food crafters kicks off tomorrow at Jack London Square in downtown Oakland.

The event that promises to “Put the Food Back in Fast,” is the brainchild of Anya Fernald, the executive director of Slow Food Nation, a 2008 gathering of gourmands held in … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Bites: Samin Nosrat, ex-Eccolo and co-creator of the Pop-Up General Store

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Samin Nosrat is a veritable poster girl for the current trend (some would say necessity) of workplace reinvention.

Since the shuttering last summer of Eccolo, an acclaimed Italian eatery on 4th Street, that restaurant’s one-time sous chef now juggles an impressive number of part-time jobs in the culinary world.

Nosrat is the co-creator (along with former boss, Chris Lee, currently cooking in London) of the much buzzed about Pop-Up General Store, a fleeting food market … Continue reading »

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Food and farming: Double header this Thursday

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Berkeleysiders interested in food and farming may find themselves torn between two edible events being held downtown — or bouncing between both this Thursday.

The Earth Island Institute and VegNews Magazine host a hot-topic debate: “Can You Be a ‘Good Environmentalist’ and Still Eat Meat?” In one corner, Nicolette Hahn Niman, a Marin rancher and author of Righteous Porkchop, who believes there is an ecologically sustainable way to eat animals. Niman’s … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Bites: Novella Carpenter

Guerrilla gardener Novella Carpenter./Photo: Sarah Henry.
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Each Friday in this space food writer Sarah Henry asks a well-known, up-and-coming, or under-the-radar food aficionado about their favorite tastes in town, preferred food purveyors and other local culinary gems worth sharing.

Novella Carpenter grows greens and raises rabbits, goats, chickens, and bees on a dead-end street in the ghetto. The dumpster diver and salty-mouthed author of Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer (paperback due out May 25) has cultivated land for the … Continue reading »

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Bay Area foodies talk the talk

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A group of the eminently interesting Bay Area food writers will discuss the future of food systems and farming this Saturday from 1-3pm at the Pasta Shop on Fourth Street.

Panelists for “Get Sharp! The Cutting Edge of Food” include Novella Carpenter (Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer), Joyce Goldstein — pictured above (Tapas: Sensational Small Plates from Spain), Mani Niall (Sweet! From Agave to Turbinado, Home Baking with Every Kind of Natural Sugar and Sweetener), … Continue reading »

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