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May 16, 2008 12:45 PM

looking for sources of local ingredient basics, i.e. salt, flour, cooking oil, dairy, etc...

I am trying to see if I can make an entire meal with only things that are grown, foraged, produced in the bay area - if possible specifically San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley. Local produce, herbs, eggs, meat (chickens/turkeys/goats/ pigs) no problem. What I want to source are ingredients like salt, cooking oils, vinegars, flour, sugar, dairy, etc. Anyone out there got any sources? Thanks a lot.

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  1. Stonehouse for oil and vinegar, Full Belly Farm for flours, Strauss for dairy.

    5 Replies
    1. re: chemchef

      Thanks for these. I do know about all of these that you mentioned and can always use them as a fall back since they are quite local. I guess what I am really looking for is to see if it's possible to find staples grown and produced with in the city limits of San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley. I fear I have a mighty challenge ahead...

      1. re: chemchef

        If you're willing to come out to Contra Costa County, you can get almost anything you need. Here in Lafayette, we have Hurst Farm on St. Mary's Road where in season you can get fruits and vegies, eggs, honey and fresh flowers. Also Holden Ranch on Deerhill has grass fed beef.

        1. re: ola

          Thank you. I will check it out. :-)

          1. re: ola

   a kid I lived at the fork at St. Mary's and Glenside...where is Hurst Farm?

            1. re: jungleboy

              right across from the Little League play field - used to be 711 Field and now called Buckeye Field.

        2. I think it kind of depends on what you mean by "produced" -- I don't think anyone is growing wheat anywhere in the Bay Area (the value per acre of the crop doesn't justify the high land values). But you can buy flour that's "produced" (milled) in the Bay Area. Actually, a good place to check would be the Food Mill in Oakland -- they should be able to tell you the sources for their raw materials and point you to ones that are closest. Same for sugar, but C&H Sugar is refined right on the Bay in Crockett. Olive oil is easy, and lots of people are making artisan vinegars (or you can make your own -- can't get more local than that!). Straus dairy products come from Marin, and I'm sure you're familiar with the local artisan cheeses, so dairy is easy to cover. Someone mentioned recently that Andante was using locally harvested salt in their butter (Cargill, of course, still makes salt in the South Bay, but I don't know if what you can buy from them is produced here).

          BTW, I was doing some research a while back on what I could source from within 25 miles of my house, and I discovered that there's a grassfed beef operation in Lafayette -- kind of a "duh" moment, since I've seen the cattle grazing in the hills. Here's a short thread about them:

          6 Replies
          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            these are awesome leads - thanks a lot. I will check them out. :-)

            1. re: pastrygirlsp

              The Food Mill is one of those places that was doing healthy natural foods so long before it became trendy that people forget about it. But it's really a great place. Alameda Natural Grocery identifies their produce by producer and has the distance to various producers posted on the walls, so you can see how far your food traveled (if you care).

              Food Mill
              3033 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94602

              Alameda Natural Grocery
              1650 Park St, Alameda, CA

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  Doesn't Leslie Salt produce solar salt in the South Bay as well?

                  1. re: Xiao Yang

                    Cargill (which bought Leslie) still makes salt in the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Alviso.

                    I'm not sure it goes into table salt. I'd think the pollution in the bay would probably make it unsuitable for that purpose. They own a lot of other salt ponds and mines around the world.

                    Cargill Salt
                    7220 Central Ave, Newark, CA

                2. As mentioned it depends on what you define as produced ... and frankly even 'grown' isn't going to be that easy.

                  If this is a carbon foot print type of thing ... well.

                  Marshall's Honey and another honey company have hives in SF and Alameda County. However in both cases the honey goes from SF to Marshall's Sonoma farm back to the SF farmers markets.

                  Who is actually selling eggs from chickens in SF or Alameda? Do those live chicken vendors at Alameny, Civic Center and Old Oakland farmers markets keep the chickens in those cities or are they trucked from other areas?

                  Although, judging from my neighborhood in San Pablo, if you hang out at the Mexican or Asian markets you might turn up some people with chickens in the back yard selling to a small market.

                  Magnini Poultry sells Delizia vinegar which is produced in Oakland, but I'm sure the grapes they are using aren't being grown there.

                  There's a tortilla company in Oakland that starts with corn on the cob to make their masa, but who knows how far away that corn was grown.

                  Although it is slightly out of your range, you might stop by Catahoula Coffee in Richmond. The owner, Timber, has been trying to put together a farmers market in his parking lot selling only items grown in Contra Costa County ... which while slightly easier, is still a challenge.

                  Anyway, he found a high school in San Pablo that has a small garden and the kids were selling their produce. Similarily in Oakland, the West Oakland Farmers Market has a local school that grows produce in Oakland ... and it is excellent stuff.

                  I've read about people foraging in Golden Gate Park but I don't recall what. One would hope the ducks at Stowe Lake will not have to worry.

                  I do recall seeing quail in the Presidio ... so if you like quail eggs. Actually, IIRC, the Ecology Center at the Presidio (or whatever it is called) had some local foraging classes in the past.

                  Here's a thread from last year about foraging berries in SF. If you search on foraging on the SF board, I'm think you'll turn up a few more threads.
                  I remember threads about fig trees in Oakland. If you want to risk stuff from the Bay, people fish off various piers in SF.

                  Here's an idea ... post on Craigslist asking if people in SF, Berkeley and Oakland have produce, etc they grow in their back yards that they would like to sell.

                  However ... Farms in Berkeley?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: rworange

                    Our Next Market will be: Saturday June 14th. Starts at 10am to 2pm. Park Guthrie of Urban Tilth will be on hand with Locally Grown Produce. Catahoula Coffee is located at: 12472 San Pablo Ave / Richmond, CA 94805 Thanks!

                    1. re: Catahoula Coffee

                      Hey, thanks !!! Even if it is small this is exciting. The Friday Richmond market is awful. The only nearby options are El Cerrito or Pinole.

                  2. If you really want to go that local, I think you'll have to start a garden or make friends with gardeners and beg from the few city farms, like the Little Farm in Tilden Park and the Alemany Farm in SF.

                    Salt, you could make yourself from seawater. Watch out for sewage.

                    Dill and fennel grow wild in vacant lots.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Or walk around and keep an eye out and ask people with fruit trees if you are allowed to pick some. There is some sort of fruit tree, I believe fig, that hangs over the lot of Mitchell's Ice cream in the Mission. Unfortunately for me on that visit, the fruit wasn't on the lower branches.

                      Here's a cool article called the 1 mile diet ... and it is about the Emeryville / Oakland area.

                      Abandoned lots and houses are good to keep an eye out. However, as noted in the article, you might need to deal with critters. A friend in San Diego got it into her mind that we must have flor de izote ... a Guatemlan delicacy ... so machete in hand ... we scoured the local abandoned lots. The taste wasn't as memorable as the ants which loved the izote as much as she did.

                      Yeah ... wild fennel ... lots and lots of it. Just off of First and Harrison, there's LOTS.

                      Here's a website, Eat Local Challenge, that might give you some ideas. The editor is someone who posts on Chowhound ... or at least did in the past Here's some tips that might be useful ... plus a bonus Chronicle article

                      In Los Angeles there is a website about foraging

                      1. re: rworange

                        Just be very careful -- fennel looks a lot like hemlock, which also grows wild around here, and which is toxic in fairly small amounts. Same with mushrooms. On the other hand, there are wild black berries and elderberries growing all over the East Bay hills.

                        Asking people if you can have excess fruit from their gardens is a great idea. Lots of people have fruit trees that they didn't plant and that bear more fruit then they can (or want to) eat and are happy to let you take them off their hands. My sister was thinking of putting together some kind fruit exchange in her neighborhood (I'll trade you my excess persimmons for your excess figs, etc.). Craigslist and freecycle are both good places to look for people off-loading stuff.

                        There's a farm in West Oakland that has both produce and eggs, although I think they'd prefer their stuff go to people in the neighborhood.

                        Don't forget snails! Our local garden snails are actually European brown snails that were brought here by people intending to raise them for escargot. They managed to get into the ecosystem and pretty much drive out the indigenous snail species, so eating them is actually good for the environment.

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          Well, if RW does eat the "fennel" I hope she has her chicken debts in order. (Sorry, couldn't resist that.)

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                            Interesting about hemlock, but don't they have different smells? Hemlock is more ferny with white flowers while fennel is more whispy with green flowers. Actually until I just saw the picture, I think I've been calling hemlock queen anne's lace. I always thought hemlock was a pine tree.

                            With the botonical prints the similarity between hemlock and fennel seems closer than when it is out in the field



                            Never actually tried wild fennel because it annoyed me so much. The lot next to my house was overtaken by it. It can grow to over six feet. In the summer when it was that tall the homeless would set up camp in it. In the winter when it dried out it was like a bonfire waiting to happen.

                            Sorry xy, haven't had my coffee yet so not thinking clearly yet. Chicken debts?

                            1. re: rworange

                              Queen Anne's lace (aka wild carrot) is very similar also. I think they're all in the same family. Queen Ann's lace is also toxic, but only mildly. This page has some intersting fact about it, and also a picture showing the foliage side-by-side.

                              Maybe you'll feel more kindly toward wild fennel when I tell you that it's the favorite host plant for the caterpillar stage of several species of butterfly.

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                They have recipes for queen anne's lace in that link, one for jelly, one for cake. Maybe the OP can go with that. She could play around with substitutions for some of the spices not available locally. Just be sure it is not hemlock.

                        2. re: Robert Lauriston

                          Speaking of starting your own garden, I just read that the City of San Francisco has introduced a pilot program to encourage people to turn their urban spaces (backyards, rooftops, etc.) into gardens. The City won't do the main gardening work, but they'll provide resources and ongoing support.

                        3. For local-ish flour, you can try the Bale Grist Mill near St. Helena. I made some whole wheat bread with their flour and it was out of this world. (Pass on their polenta, though. It didn't thicken up for me.) Happy local baking!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Cafe Mich

                            Bale Grist Mill is a state park with an old mill that gives demonstrations on the weekend. Seems unlikely they go to the extra effort and expense to get local grain.