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When the farmers market isn't sustainable enough: ForageSF

salad made from foraged foods

Farmers markets have become the face of the local foods movement, and they’re popping up everywhere… and succeeding, by and large. People like the idea of buying from local food growers and producers, and markets create a stronger sense of community than most grocery stores.

But what if you want to go a step further in your efforts to eat sustainably? What if you’d like to learn more about food that’s available for the picking almost anywhere (which we often consider weeds or other undesirable plants)? What if you’d like to try out local food from merchants who simply can’t afford the permitting required for selling their goods at the local market? What if you’d just like to make a salad like the one above… from food you find on a walk through the neighborhood?

In San Francisco, the organization ForageSF is attempting to meet these needs. Founded by Iso Rabins in early 2008, the organization aims  ”to connect Bay Area dwellers with the wild food that is all around them.” ForageSF does this through a number of different activities, including wild food walks (which includes “foraging” for seafood), a “roving underground supper club,” and the SF Underground Market, which provides “safe haven” for those food producers that can’t afford to meet the requirements for mainstream markets (and which just got a write-up in the New York Times).

While “underground” denotes “outside the system,” it turns out “the system” has been pretty friendly to the idea: Rabins told NYT reporter Brendan Spiegel how a health inspector was the one to tell him how to organize the events in a manner to get around commercial kitchen requirements. And the market itself is growing fast, with thousands of attendees now.

Been to one of ForageSF’s events? A forager yourself? Find the farmers market or food co-op way too mainstream? Let us know what you think…

via @chelseagreen

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Image credit: VidyaRangayyan at Flickr under a Creative Commons license