esf_sum14_cover_720Soon voters will decide whether or not to raise the minimum wage in two Bay Area cities.

On the ballot in San Francisco, a measure to bump the minimum wage from $10.74 to $15. Across the bay in Oakland, an initiative that would lift the hourly pay from $9 to $12.25.

Who isn’t in favor of increasing income for the lowest paid among us in one of the most expensive area’s to live?

And yet restaurant owners who run small, independent businesses that help give these towns their unique flavor say a seismic wage increase could sink some establishments already running on thin profit margins.

Learn more in my story “The Tipping Point” for Edible San Francisco and “Counting the Beans” for Edible East Bay.

Since these stories ran, some developments of note:

A handful of Bay Area restaurateurs, including some featured in my stories, have decided to replace tipping with a 20% surcharge on all checks.

A report by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United revealed that one third of restaurant employees in Oakland can’t afford to eat at the places they work.

And a UC Berkeley study found that a rise in the minimum wage could help close the wealth gap for almost 25% of San Francisco workers.

Have your say on November 4.


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.


“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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