Excellent San Francisco Agricultural History Essay Collection

While searching for information about the San Francisco Produce Market (which was being torn down when I first hit town) I stumbled across an amazing collection of detailed, well-illustrated essays linked together by Found San Francisco as a “Food Tour.” It’s not about restaurants or prepared foods, but about food production and distribution within the city limits of San Francisco. It’s well worth bookmarking for reading during the rainy winter days ahead.

Separate essays in the “Food Tour” are:

  • Eggers [of the Farralones, not Dave]
  • The Farmer with the Golden Plow
  • Cow Hollow Sanitation Scandal
  • Butchertown’s Beginnings
  • Chinese Shrimping Basin
  • Rabbit Hunting in the Sunset
  • Sand Dunes [and cows] in the Richmond
  • Larsen’s Chicken Ranch
  • The First Land Grab [for cattle grazing]
  • Provincial Italian Cuisines
  • San Francisco’s Victory Gardens
  • San Francisco Farmers Market
  • Produce Market
  • Crystal Palace Market
  • People’s Food System
  • The Farm
  • Arresting Food Not Bombs is Censorship
  • Del Monte Complaints

The series begins here.


Oh, so right up my alley - thanks for sharing this!

Very interesting!

I remember Joyce Goldstein’s book about the California food revolution saying that farmers market’s were required to pre-weigh and package everything they sold until laws changed in the 70s. However, that contradicts the experience of people I’ve spoken to and a cursory glance at those essays. Any ideas for this?

Mark Leger’s piece on fielding the complaints desk at Del Monte (originally published in Processed World in 1985) is one of my favorite pieces ever, by anyone.

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Well that’s true. Think of all the wooden “orange crates” with colorful labels that are now collectors’ items.

I don’t think it applied to the San Francisco Produce Market, though; around 1970 my then wife and I were volunteer workers for the Berkeley Food Conspiracy (North Berkeley-Albany Cell). The Conspiracy would buy its produce at the produce market in bulk and break it into individual orders. I don’t think there was a requirement to buy a whole crate of anything, but can’t be sure, because we were cheese coordinators and never went for the produce. Instead of having to get up at 5:00 AM on Saturday, we’d pick up our cheese in bulk from the Cheeseboard (30% discount) and stop at the original Peets on the way, to fortify ourselves for the strenuous task of cutting it into individual orders.


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Honghe Hani Rice Terraces, Yuanyang County, Yunnan
Credit: inkelv1122, Flickr