Get SF Weekly Newsletters

Food for a Cause

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Tackling Food and Climate Change with the Founders of Mission Chinese Food and The Perennial

Posted By on Tue, Aug 2, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Anthony Myint and Karen Lebowitz - JON ADAMS
  • Jon Adams
  • Anthony Myint and Karen Lebowitz
When Karen Leibowitz and Anthony Myint of the wildly popular Mission Chinese Food decided they wanted to start a restaurant that focused on sustainability, they thought most of what that would mean would be conservation — getting food locally, reducing waste, and being careful with their packaging.

But then they started talking to people like Wes Jackson, president of The Land Institute. If something can be accomplished in your lifetime he told them, you’re not thinking big enough. So they did an environmental assessment with Zero Foodprint and found the majority of their greenhouse gas admissions came from their ingredients, especially meat and lamb.
  • Jon Adams
  • Earth
In their quest to understand how they could do things differently, they visited Nicasio Native Grass Ranch, which practices "carbon farming," a way of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and returning it to the soil. John Wick co-founded Marin Carbon Farming, and the website describes him as a “tireless advocate” for this practice. Apparently, they aren’t kidding about the tireless part. Leibowitz says when they got to the farm, Wick was talking to someone from the United Nations. When he got through, he started explaining carbon farming to her and Myint — out on the side of a hill, complete with a whiteboard.
Leibowitz says she found what they learned that day particularly hopeful – and she’d like others to know about it.

“It’s such important news that it’s surprising how little airplay it gets,” she says. “I want to shout it from the rooftops- or the rooftop garden. I want it to be a movement.”

Driving back that day, Leibowitz and Myint decided on a name for the restaurant they planned to open — The Perennial — because of what they’d learned about perennial plants and their role in restoring the soil ecosystem.

Myint and Leibowitz, along with some of their food partners, such as 18 Reasons, Soil Solutions and Singing Frog Farms, will be at the Asian Art Museum for an event, Takeover, on Thursday, Aug. 4, to talk about food and climate change. At The Perennial, there’s a statement on the menus, letting people know they can ask about the restaurant’s mission is about sustainability — or they can just enjoy their meal. With Takeover, they can have a deeper conversation, Leibowitz says.
Carbon Monster - JON ADAMS
  • Jon Adams
  • Carbon Monster
“We’re a mission-driven business, but we don’t think business is the sole solution,” she says. “We’re offering different activities about how to engage politically and we want it to be a gathering place for thinking about food and climate and inspiring change.”

Some of those interactive activities were designed by IDEO’s San Francisco Food Studio. Lynda Deakin, who runs the lab, says she thinks now is an unprecedented time of change in the food world towards being more sustainable. Projects IDEO is working on include reducing food waste and making the food system more transparent.

At Takeover, Deakin says they be doing something involving balloons. And who doesn’t love balloons? (For any of you who saw the Democratic Convention, this is Sen. Tim Kaine’s dream come true.) These balloons at the Asian will have a purpose: Pop them, and they'll give you ideas about what you can do.

“Food and climate change is such a large, lofty problem,” Deakin says. “We want to make people realize small steps can add up to something bigger.”

Takeover, Thursday, August 4, 6-9 p.m., Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin, $5
  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Hungry Babes SF Combats Empty Bellies With Monthly Pop-Ups

Posted By on Tue, Mar 1, 2016 at 8:00 AM

  • Hungry Babes

“When I think of San Francisco, there are two things that come to mind,” says Patricia Lee. “The thriving food industry, and the amount of poverty that you see on the streets.”

Lee, 27, has been working in restaurants since she was a teenager, and she wants to see the gap between those two stark realities closed. Last year, along with three other young women working in the industry (Neda Baraghani, 32; Lidija Ristic, 27; and Sara Nelson, 25), she formed Hungry Babes SF, an organization dedicated to both putting on exciting culinary events and combating hunger in San Francisco.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Tags: , , ,

Monday, December 7, 2015

Working With the S.F.-Marin Food Bank for the Holidays

Posted By on Mon, Dec 7, 2015 at 8:00 AM


Venal, self-absorbed, and completely incapable of moderation, I’m what you might call “kind of a bad person.” Sure, I support a few organizations with monthly donations, but when it comes to giving of my time, I’m outright terrible. I may not be in the financial One Percent, but I sure am when it comes to eating, so I did something I’d thought about doing for many years but never got it together to act on: I volunteered on Thanksgiving.

From 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., my boyfriend and I — along with about 50 other people — helped out at the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, packing rice and  pasta that would end up at one of the 450 food pantries the organization serves every week. Donning a hairnet (and a beard guard) in the massive Dogpatch facility’s dry goods room, I looked like I was about to remove someone’s appendix, but the only piece of machinery I got to operate was the machine that uses heat to seal shut plastic bags of pasta, each filled to exactly a pound. It was a bit tricky at first, as I kept overdoing it and singeing off the edges, but eventually I stopped holding up the assembly line for our table of six volunteers. There were Jock Jams to keep us moving and everyone was smiley and appreciative. Minus a generous break, a “thanks, team!” speech at the end, and an early dismissal, our four-hour shift was barely two-and-a-half hours — but we managed to pack more than 8,100 pounds of dry goods for hungry San Franciscans and Marin-ites.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , ,

Monday, November 9, 2015

Chatting With MoAD's Chef-in-Residence Bryant Terry About Food Justice

Posted By on Mon, Nov 9, 2015 at 8:00 AM

Bryant Terry - MOAD
  • MoAD
  • Bryant Terry

The 2015 James Beard Foundation Leadership Award-winning chef, author and activist Bryant Terry has been a free agent for awhile now, roaming the country on a mission to get people, chiefly African-Americans, to reconnect with their culinary heritage in ways that are emotionally satisfying and physically fortifying.

That has changed, now that the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) has named him to be its Chef-in-Residence (and only a year after S.F.’s Grace Cathedral appointed him to the equivalent position.). Because we live in a time and place of almost-unimaginable bounty, but also face steep hurdles to the equal distribution of good, nutritious food, Terry’s assumption of the new position could not be more timely. Under his leadership, MOAD is hosting a (sold-out) panel discussion, Black Women, Food & Power, on Sunday, Nov. 15, featuring speakers such as Gail Myers and Toni Tipton Martin. Terry was slightly awed to learn that people are flying in from around the country to attend.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , ,

Thursday, September 17, 2015

SUNDAY: Make a Furry Friend at Trick Dog

Posted By on Thu, Sep 17, 2015 at 12:00 PM

  • Trick Dog

We can’t vouch for anybody but ourselves, but it’s our fervent opinion that there is nothing better than holding a cocktail in one hand and rubbing a furry friend’s ears with the other. In that spirit, the bon vivants behind Trick Dog, whose current cocktail menu is also a dog calendar, will host a puppy adoption party called Hair of the Dog this Sunday, Sept. 20, from noon to three p.m.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , ,

Monday, September 14, 2015

Hunger Games: Can You Live on $4.50 a Day?

Posted By on Mon, Sep 14, 2015 at 1:30 PM

  • Suzanne Tucker/Shutterstock

Affluent, free of strife, and more fertile than almost anywhere, there’s no doubt that Northern California is truly the Land of Plenty. Perversely, however, hunger is widespread throughout the region, where even efforts to boost the minimum wage are wildly incongruent with the realities of the cost of living here.

In that spirit, the SF-Marin Food Bank’s Hunger Challenge begins today.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Grass-Fed, Dry-Farmed: Adventures on CUESA's Meat and Potatoes Tour

Posted By on Tue, Aug 25, 2015 at 12:00 PM

Tour members dig for potatoes at Little Organic Farm. - ERIC S. BURKETT
  • Eric S. Burkett
  • Tour members dig for potatoes at Little Organic Farm.

In a mostly harvested potato field, 46 visitors are stooped over dying potato plants, digging into the loamy soil with their bare hands beneath the overcast skies of coastal Marin County. They're harvesting German Butterballs, filling paper bags with the tubers they find.

A few women find themselves having to dig around Gibb, an Anatolian shepherd and a big friendly lug of a dog, who has decided that smack-dab in the middle of where they're digging is the perfect place to sit and soak up attention. They laugh and plead with him to move, but he falls over on his side instead.

The potato harvest was the finale to the visitors' first stop on a daylong tour of farms and butchers in Marin and Sonoma counties. Organized by Center for Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA), this particular tour is called the Meat and Potatoes Farm Tour focusing on, unsurprisingly, meat and potatoes and the people who produce them.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Cat Town Cafe Expands Without Arching Its Back

Posted By on Tue, May 19, 2015 at 4:50 PM

Note: cats not to scale. - PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
  • Note: cats not to scale.

While we’re still waiting for KitTea to open, and also for someone to crowdfund a project that caters to the Tippi Hedrens of the world and anyone else who keeps big cats as pets, it seems that Oakland’s Cat Town Café is doing quite well for itself. The do-gooder café where you can reserve time to play with and possibly adopt some homeless felines opened last fall to great acclaim, and Inside Scoop reports that they’ve since been able to find forever homes for 184 little friends while cutting the euthanasia rate in half at Oakland Animal Services.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Tags: , ,

Monday, May 18, 2015

Drag Queens Cook for a Cause

Posted By on Mon, May 18, 2015 at 4:21 PM

  • Rick Camargo
Home entertaining is notoriously tricky. As an art form, it can be as exalted as choral music, but it can also be as tedious as mosaic and as unrewarding as tracing silhouettes. That’s why there’s Kitchit, an online platform for home cooks and aspiring salonistes to connect with professional chefs. Scintillating repartee begins over hors d’oeuvres at cocktail hour, after all, and nuked potstickers don’t get the literati gabbing.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Tags: , ,

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Mingle with Food Producers at Bay Leaf Kitchen Harvest Dinner

Posted By on Tue, Oct 14, 2014 at 4:30 PM

Anna Larsen of Siren Sea SA demonstrates how to fillet a halibut to a camper at Bay Leaf Kitchen at Eatwell Farm this summer. - ALIX WALL
  • Alix Wall
  • Anna Larsen of Siren Sea SA demonstrates how to fillet a halibut to a camper at Bay Leaf Kitchen at Eatwell Farm this summer.

On Sunday, Oct. 26, those who like combining their charity with a gourmet dinner can eat well while supporting culinary education for kids.

The cause is Bay Leaf Kitchen, which teaches kids about their food, where it comes from and how to make it. While its culinary camp made it into Bon Appetit’s top cooking camps for kids this summer, a large part of founder Elianna Friedman’s mission is to give scholarships to kids who wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise.

“Cooking teaches us valuable life skills that go well beyond the kitchen and is a fun activity, for the whole family, that should be cultivated from a young age,” says Friedman.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"