Tag Archives: Three Stone Hearth

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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Cheese Board Collective: 40 years in the Gourmet Ghetto

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Exploring alternative ways to work in the food industry is a hot topic. Last week in San Francisco a sold out Kitchen Table Talks, a monthly panel showcasing local food folk, featured a discussion about successful edible enterprises that haven’t started the conventional route.

Two of the four panelists hailed from Berkeley. Three Stone Hearth‘s Jessica Prentice, previously profiled on Berkeleyside, talked about her cooperative kitchen model. Cathy Goldsmith represented The Cheese Board Collective.

Beyond the obvious culinary connection, each business is unique. What they have in common? A desire to build community — of workers, artisans, and customers — around their real food ventures.

Case in point: The Cheese Board Collective, which has served as a beloved anchor institution in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto for more than 40 years.

Goldsmith, who has a restaurant background, has been a worker-owner at The Cheese Board for 16 years. She likes to say that the collective got going “back in the day” and people who work there do  everything “from soup to nuts.” What that means is the 52-year-old finds herself serving cheese one day, rolling out dough the next, dealing with health insurance and other human resource issues on another, along with stocking bread bags, sweeping floors, and scrubbing toilets.

Goldsmith also tends to do the collective’s media outreach, though she declined to be photographed for this story because, perhaps fittingly for a collective owner-worker, she wanted the spotlight to be on the group — which numbers more than 45 — not on any one individual. … Continue reading »

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Beyond produce: CSAs try other edibles, mixed results

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Would you buy a box of bread, cheese, chocolate, wine, olive oil or jam from a local artisan on a regular basis?

In Berkeley and beyond, budding food producers are incorporating the community food model in their business plans. But they are having mixed success. Indeed, whether this concept can become financially feasible outside of the fruit and vegetable box remains to be seen.

“The jury is still out on if this is sustainable, long term,” said Cindy Tsai … Continue reading »

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Berkeley filmmakers focus on urban food movement

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A Berkeley based film company is in the final stages of making a documentary about the Bay Area’s urban food movement which features several Berkeley faces.

Edible City tells the stories of people responding to the global food crisis in their communities and in their own backyards. It is the work of East Bay Pictures, a production company with an office on Rose Street. Director Andrew Hasse, who founded East Bay Pictures in 2008, is working with … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Bites: Jessica Prentice

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Jessica Prentice’s claim to fame comes from coining the term locavore, chosen as the 2007 Word of the Year by the New Oxford American Dictionary.

The New York City-trained natural chef lives and breathes the locavore lifestyle. She is a co-founder of Three Stone Hearth, a community supported kitchen cooperative on University Avenue, which sells nutrient-dense, prepared foods (think soups and stews in bone broth made from scratch), and co-creator of the Local Foods Wheel, a whimsically illustrated guide to local, seasonal and ecologically-sound eating.

Prentice, 41, is the author of Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection, and one of the women profiled in Temra Costa’s recent book Farmer Jane: Women Changing the Way We Eat.

She lives in Richmond Annex with her partner, fellow food advocate Jacob Wright who works at the Center for Ecoliteracy, and their 16-month-old son.

We sat down to talk at Three Stone’s communal table. Prentice nursed a large mason jar of reverse-osmosis filtered water spiked with trace mineral drops.

What do you like about running a food business in Berkeley?

We attract open-minded, forward-thinking people who want to eat well.  I love the diversity of our kitchen volunteers and apprentices.

One of our volunteers is a follower of The Hate Man, who espouses oppositional thinking. At first I just thought he was kind of intense and eccentric; he only ever wears a skirt.  He’s worked with us for three years — he sears the meats for us on Tuesday nights. Now I know that I have to just make commands: “go to the walk-in and get whatever”, without saying please or thank you. If I ask him how his day is he’ll say “bad”, and when I introduce him to new volunteers I let them know that they need to say “I hate you” to him as a greeting.

We also have a lot of transgender volunteers. People you call “he” but they’re on their period. We have plenty of only-in-Berkeley moments.

What’s challenging about owning a food co-op in town?

This is an expensive area and our community cooking business wouldn’t work if we had to pay all our kitchen workers. Labor is expensive. But we give people commercial culinary experience cooking high quality food in exchange for labor.

What kind of customers do you attract?

We have a cutting-edge group of customers that fall into several sub-sets. We have a lot of followers of the Weston A. Price diet, a nutrient-dense way of eating. We have people with kids who want their children to eat healthy. And we have people who have been through a major life-changing illness like cancer, come out the other side, and want to take care of their bodies. We get a lot of people who are interested in healing practices, and we get our share of wealthy customers who can afford to eat this way and just think it’s a good idea.

People who come to us know that good food is an investment — our meats are pasture raised, our produce is organic, we even use biodynamic raisins. It’s quality, nutrient-rich food so you need less of it but you pay a bit more for it.

Are there any misperceptions about the food scene here?

Eating locally is elitist — a notion that needs to be questioned.

It comes down to priorities and choices. Think about the amount of money that people — of all races — spend on their hair. You could buy a lot of good food with the money some people spend on hair treatments and products.

Almost every adult now has a cell phone. I ride the bus a lot, presumably a lot of people on the bus are of lesser means, but they’re all talking on their cell phones. What people pay for a cell phone plan could also pay for a lot of good food. … 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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