Fo-raging and Ranting
Not so wild about it: Thank you for "Out of the Wild" [Peter Jamison, Feature, 3/18]. There are certainly restaurants that use wild ingredients; I have even seen wild meat on menus (not in San Francisco). But I doubt they depend mainly on such ingredients, and I assume (maybe wrongly) that the best of these are ethical and educated in their sourcing and preparation.
Iso Rabins picks wild plants and sells them, and wants to do so on a bigger scale, but he doesn't seem to have any knowledge about the science of this endeavor or real care for the earth that produces them. This seems to me foolish, opportunistic, and hypocritical.
The sources for Rabins' food that Jamison mentions give me the heebie-jeebies. I won't even touch the mushroom topic in general, but remember that the Presidio is a former military base (since the 18th century) — God knows what's in that soil. For example, anywhere a building painted with lead paint has burned down, lead stays in the soil for many years.
One shouldn't apply mass-scale capitalist economics to delicate wild plants; they are not properly harvested in urban areas nor meant to be transported for mass consumption.
I'm not an expert, but I do know enough to realize that what Rabins is doing is unsound on the higher level of nonexploitative stewardship of the Earth and hazardous on the practical level of food safety. In fact, many wild plants are not good for humans — they might not kill you outright, but they won't support robust health, either. Yes, the early California miners ate miner's lettuce, but they did so because they were starving — it was certainly not ideal food.
I think Rabins would do better to learn about organic farming and turn his ambition toward that more promising (but less glamorous) industry.
Blog Quotes of the Week
Regarding San Francisco and California lagging behind Iowa on gay marriage:
As one of SF's clichéd ersatz Iowans, allow me to drop some of said schadenfreude on you. This ruling was unanimous, unequivocal, and courageous. Add in Obama's caucus victory, an unemployment rate under 5 percent, and a former governor making some promising moves at the Department of Agriculture, and it almost makes us inferior-museum–having farmboys look pretty forward-looking. How's that budget going for you, Cali? The celebrity governor thing working out? Hey, it's okay: Prop 8 "almost" failed, and that Gavin Newsom has such pretty hair.
I lived in San Francisco from 2000 until the summer of 2008, after years of feeling forced out of S.F. due to gentrification, high rents, assaults, rising crime, and homophobia and transphobia that had gotten worse.
I miss S.F., but the attitudes I don't miss. I love my new home of Illinois. It's so accepting. I have had no real issues. And that's what I think we are witnessing here. Kids who were once hated and bashed are now being embraced by their peers and families. "The times are a changin', so you better start swimming or you'll sink like a stone," is what Bob Dylan sang. Thank you, Iowa and Illinois. I love you people.