Ballpark garden: A fresh alternative to typical sports arena fare. Photo: Suzanna Mitchell/Courtesy SF Giants

Going to a game just got greener. And more delicious. Today, the San Francisco Giants opened The Garden at AT&T Park.

Located behind centerfield, the garden will supply vegetables and fruits for menu items courtesy of the Giants’ food service partner, Bon Appetit Management Company. We’re talking strawberry smoothies, Mason Jar salads and crostini with chard.

The 4,320-square-foot space, one of the first edible gardens in a U.S. ballpark, boasts vertical aeroponic towers, which efficiently grow nutritious greens and herbs.

Blooming big time today: Artichokes, collards, chard, lettuce and, of course, kale.

On hand at the ribbon-cutting ceremony: The Giants healthy-eating ambassador, Hunter Pence, who has dabbled with the Paleo Diet and converted the likes of Buster Posey and other teammates to the wonders of eating green.

Think Kale Salad for starters. Or #kalepower to Giants fans in the know.

An edible garden is the latest attraction at the Giants ballpark.

Also in the mix: Junior Giants, 9-year-olds from Willie Mays Boys and Girls Club of Hunters Point, who got to eat greens, plant seeds and talk ball with the home run hitting Hunter.

Oh, and a couple of offspring of media types who were delighted to meet a real live MLB star. And eat good, green, clean grub.

A visit to the ballpark just got a whole lot tastier. Plans call for the gathering spot–complete  with seating, fire pits and concession stands–to open to the public after the All-Star break next month.

Did we mention there’s a bar slated for the space too?

Fans can still brown bag it and picnic on the sod farm in front, which provides soil for the playing field. Oh, and if you want to watch the game from here? The garden’s centerfield wall will feature small cutout slits with ground-level views of the action.

The garden will also serve as a community teaching tool. The goal is to educate young eaters (and eager ballplayers hoping to catch a glimpse of their heroes at batting practice, perhaps) about the value of growing greens and eating fresh food.

Could the Giants kick off a ballpark trend?

We know The A’s have some serious stadium problems going on. But can we get some healthy food happening in the ballpark on this side of the Bay? Let’s Go Oakland.

A girl can dream.

Kale lovin' ballplayer Hunter Pence and a fan, also a keen green eating machine.

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“Our bowl of ramen is a couple of pounds of food, there’s a ton of nourishment packed in there.” Photo: Alanna Hale

“Who pays $88 for a bowl of ramen?”

This cover story for Edible San Francisco is part of a year-long series on the true cost of food and the hidden costs of cheap food. The piece was dubbed “a thoughtful look at how food reflects our values” by one reader and “a smart, must-read” by another.

It profiles a new breed of chefs and restaurateurs, many of them with origins in other lands, who are reimagining so-called ethnic cuisine and educating diners hungry for traditional tastes with far-flung roots about what it really costs in ingredients, techniques and labor to produce quality chow from sustainable sources.

“If you pay $5 for a bowl of curry or pho you have to understand what you are complicit it.”

 

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From Cal-Med to kimchee and much more: Oakland's culinary diversity. Photo: Courtesy CHOW

Everywhere you turn the media is singing the praises of Oakland, from Ebony to the New York Times, unfortunate bicoastal (and some might say tone deaf) comparisons aside.

San Francisco even devoted an entire issue to the city, dubbing it “our new cultural capital.”

Naturally, stories about the town’s sizzling dining evolution are in demand. I’ve covered the city’s edible uprising — from urban farms and food trucks to small grub hubs and large independent restaurants — for the past five years.

This month CHOW asked me to weigh in with 10 Reasons to Hella Love Food in Oakland Right Now. As you’ll see, I pack in way more than 10 highlights in this culinary destination.

And San Francisco, which ran its own guide to the city’s edible riches, asked me to revisit the women chefs of note  — there are many and more coming.

Over at Edible East Bay, I take a deep dive into the funding sources helping to fuel the new wave of restaurants here. A variety of financing models are behind the boom and this story profiles the people with the means to bankroll these businesses and the chefs and restaurateurs who are thriving as a result in this new food frontier.

For my money, one of the standout stories on Oakland’s changing landscape and accompanying narratives comes from a child of the city who has some pretty fond food memories of her own — and some frank advice for newbies to the ‘hood.

Poet/playwright Chinaka Hodge‘s personal essay is a must-read for anyone who truly wants to understand Oakland today — and its recent history.  And if you have a chance to see her new play Chasing Meheserlejust do it.

Featured restaurants in Edible East Bay's Behind the Boom: Duende, Nido, Penrose & The Cook and Her Farmer. Photographed: The chefs and their financial backers. Photos: Stacy Ventura

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