February 15, 2008

Vendor Signs Are Here!

picklesOne of the things that makes the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market a success is that it’s not only a farmers’ market. In addition to farmers selling raw fruits, vegetables and meat, you also find vendors selling bread, charcuterie, ready-to-eat meals, and more. These sellers don’t actually grow the raw products that go into their offerings, so where are the ingredients from?

New informational profiles about Ferry Plaza Farmers Market vendors and their sourcing are now available both online and at the market. Look for the yellow signs hanging at vendors’ stalls (farmers display green signs) or visit our website to browse them. This week’s feature highlights a few of the more than 30 new profiles.

Happy Girl Kitchen Company

PEOPLE: Todd and Jordan Champagne along with 7 part-time helpers

ABOUT: Todd and Jordan were first introduced to food preservation when they worked together on a farm in Norway in 1999. Back in the states, living on California’s Central Coast, they saw the need to preserve the regional harvest so people could eat a diversity of local produce year-round. These days, from June through October, Todd and Jordan spend most of their time in the kitchen using hot-water bath canning techniques to put up pickles, jams and tomato sauces. Everything is made by hand and sold in reusable and returnable glass mason jars.

SOURCING: All of the ingredients that Happy Girl Kitchen Company uses, and the kitchen itself, are certified organic. Almost all of the fruits and vegetables in Happy Girl’s products come from local farms, some of which sell at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. The apple cider vinegar that Happy Girl commonly uses for pickling comes from Washington apples. All herbs are from local growers, while the dried spices are sourced nationally.

FUN FACT: Happy Girl Kitchen drives to the Saturday market in the oldest vehicle used by any vendor: a 1966 Volkswagen Bus. Talk about preservation!

Hodo Soy Beanery

PEOPLE: Minh Tsai and John Notz along with 3 full-time and 6 part-time employees

ABOUT: As a food lover unable to find fresh organic tofu and other soy products in the Bay Area, Minh Tsai left his job career in finance founded Hodo Soy Beanery in 2004.

PROCESS: Dried soybeans are soaked overnight and ground into a pulp using an industrial-sized stone grinder. The puree is then cooked by steam injection for 60 minutes, at high heat and all liquid (soymilk) is extracted from the puree. Soymilk is the basic ingredient for all of Hodo’s products. To make tofu, calcium sulfate is used to coagulate the soymilk into curds. The bean curds are wrapped in cheesecloth and pressed into various textures, from soft to firm. Fresh yuba (also known as tofu skin), is made by keeping the soymilk warm so the fat and protein form paper-thin sheets; these sheets are peeled off the surface of the warm milk. Hodo often sells products within 12 hours of when they are made.

SOURCING: All soybeans, which make up the vast majority of what goes into Hodo products, are organically grown in Missouri. Most of their spices are imported from Asia. All products are free of preservatives.

FUN FACT: Hodo Soy Beanery gives the bean pulp left over from their soy milk-making process to hog farmers for use as fodder.

RoliRoti

PEOPLE: Thomas Odermatt along with 5 full-time and 7 part-time employees

ABOUT: Thomas founded RoliRoti in 2001 after studying agriculture in Zurich, Switzerland and working to improve conditions for the animals on his family’s rabbit farm in Hungary. As a marketing student at UC Berkeley, Thomas was required to create a business plan for a fictitious business, and it was out of this project that RoliRoti was born.

Most of RoliRolti’s chickens are roasted within two days of slaughter. They are spiced and then spit-roasted at low heat for about 90 minutes on rotisseries in specially built trucks.

SOURCING: All of RoliRoti’s chickens are from Fulton Valley Farm in Sonoma County. About 20% of the chickens are organic; the rest are raised without antibiotics and are never fed animal by-products. Chickens are raised in open houses with equal space available outside to roam, and they eat soybeans and corn. All other meats are from Heritage Foods USA, a company that supplies pasture-raised, antibiotic-free meats. Potatoes are from Zuckerman’s Farm, a seller at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Herbs are organic and kosher, from a supplier based in Los Angeles.

FUN FACT: Thomas is the son of a Metzgermeister (Swiss for Master Butcher).

Saint Benoît Yogurt

PEOPLE: Benoît de Korsak along with three part-time employees

ABOUT: Benoît brought his family to the United States from France in 2003 to start the yogurt business. His goal has always been to bring an artisanal yogurt with a French taste to the San Francisco Bay area using environmentally friendly packaging. Yogurt is sold in reusable ceramic containers and mason jars. Benoît uses a Compressed Natural Gas vehicle for the business.

Saint Benoît Yogurt is made in small batches in West Sonoma County. Yogurt cultures are added to the milk in a 40-gallon vat and then crocks and jars are filled with the mixture, incubated and refrigerated, a process that takes 24 hours. The yogurt that Benoît sells on Saturday morning is started on Friday morning.

SOURCING: All milk is organic and comes from the Jersey cows at Diamond Dairy in Petaluma. Jams for “fruit at the bottom” flavors are organic and sourced from Sonoma County farmers. Honey for honey yogurt comes from Marshall’s Farm Natural Honey, a seller at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

FUN FACT: Saint Benoît (French for Saint Benedict) founded several monastic communities across Europe. For centuries, these communities have crafted some of the best artisan food products in the world.

About CUESA

CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is dedicated to cultivating a sustainable food system through the operation of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and its educational programs. Learn More »