Archive for the month “July, 2012”

What’s happening with the James Beard Public Market Project?

As someone who once happily lived just up Beacon Hill from the Pike Place Market in Seattle, I’ve been wondering what’s happening with the Portland public market project.  So I decided to do a little web searching to see what I could find out.

My first search turned up this:

BREAKING BEARD: Last month, a deal was finally inked for the planned James Beard Public Market. The giant indoor market, named for Oregon native and foodie hero James Beard, would look something like Seattle’s Pike Place Market and sit at the west end of the Morrison Bridge. But the current king of Portland stall sellers isn’t bowing to kiss Beard’s ring just yet. Portland Farmers Market boss Trudy Toliver told Capital Press that the markets have “somewhat similar value sets,” but told WW that public markets are a “different animal.” Toliver says PFM prioritizes local vendors, but public markets “aren’t a place where you go to meet a farmer.” While the Beard group says it will commit to local vendors, public markets have a history of starting off local before selling out.”

via Scoop: Market Forces.

Also on the page was this report from Oregon Live:

Multnomah County commissioners voted to approve a deal to sell land at the west end of the Morrison Bridge to Melvin Mark Companies and nonprofit James Beard Public Market Foundation for a 17-story high-rise and Pike Place-style market. The decision marks the end of a long process that began when the county declared the 3.12-acre property, occupied mostly by parking lots, as surplus and began looking for a buyer. And it means the fulfillment of a long-sought dream of a public food market in downtown Portland. The partnership is purchasing the property for $10,430,000. The deal will close in 37 months. “

The deal will close in 37 months?  Yikes, that’s over 3 years–and that’s just for the deal to close.  So when is it planned to open?

According to this article from the Portland Business Journal:

The deal gives market promoters 37 months to raise the approximately $25 million it will take to develop the market so it can open with no debt. Supporters anticipate opening the market in 2016.”

Which means, I guess, that I shouldn’t be planning a field trip to the Market any time soon.

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Will Cowork for Food: San Francisco’s Forage Kitchen Aims to Be a Hub for Food Lovers

“Making food from scratch and selling it on a small scale is one of the simplest and oldest business models. But it isn’t that simple to get a food venture off the ground. Financial barriers to entry include expensive commercial kitchen spaces and equipment. Bureaucratic impediments include licensing and permits. A lack of experience, savvy, and connections compound the challenge, of course, preventing many food lovers from taking the plunge to become food entrepreneurs.

Iso Rabins would know—his attempts to break into San Francisco’s food scene were foiled from the get-go. Farmers markets turned him away when he offered to sell foraged mushrooms. He ended up “cold-calling chefs and knocking on the back door of restaurants.” In 2008, Rabins founded ForageSF, a social enterprise to support the city’s foraging scene. The group began hosting the Underground Market, a food market for shoppers willing to take a risk on food prepared outside a commercial kitchen. The market exploded in popularity, with hundreds of vendors and tens of thousands of participants. Then, San Francisco’s Department of Public Health issued them a cease-and-desist last year.

Now Rabins and ForageSF are back with a new project called Forage Kitchen, a physical home for San Francisco’s craft food scene—everyone from aspiring entrepreneurs to hobbyists. Currently in its Kickstarter phase, if funded the kitchen will become the first coworking space for craft food and a much needed “venue for small food producers to get their start without having to pay all the fees,” says Rabins.”

via Will Cowork for Food: San Francisco’s Forage Kitchen Aims to Be a Hub for Food Lovers – Business – GOOD.

Fascinating article on the SF food scene.  I remember reading about their “Underground Market” last year and wishing we had such a thing here.  So was very sorry to learn that the SF Department of Public Health had shut them down.

I was talking to a nonprofit developer recently about the possibility of putting a commercial kitchen into the low income housing project they were working on. It seemed to me that it could have great benefit both to the residents and to potential “food entrepreneurs” in that neighborhood.  While my developer friend agreed that the kitchen was a great idea and could be a tremendous benefit, it wasn’t something she could do because if she added a commercial kitchen to the space, it would cause the per hour labor costs for the build to go to a much, much higher level—like from $15 per hour to $30 per hour.  And not just while the kitchen was being constructed–those higher rates would be in effect for the entire build.  So even though the kitchen would be a great asset and could help some of the residents/neighbors build a business to support themselves and their families, it was “off the table” as an option.

There has to be a way around this problem; a way to make growing a new food business affordable for people with dreams and talents, but little means.  I know there are people trying to work on this problem here in Portland and I very much hope they succeed.  In the meantime, budding food entrepreneurs will need to keep looking for a cost-effective way to bring their food to market.

USDA to Ramp Up Drug Residue Testing for Meat and Poultry

 I have commented a lot about the antibiotics in meat issues (and I’m not done yet!)  That said, here is the news that came out today:

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture is beefing up testing for veterinary drug residues in the meat supply – and the new policy will take effect this  grilling season.

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service today will announce a new, more modern testing system that allows the agency to test for dozens of drugs, pesticides, and other potentially harmful compounds simultaneously, instead of only testing for one or a handful of compounds in each meat sample.

The change is a significant update to an often-overlooked part of the food safety system. For the last several years much of the focus has been on microbiological contamination, but much less attention has been paid to drug and chemical contamination in the food supply.

In 2010, the USDA’s Inspector General published a report questioning whether the agency was doing enough to keep harmful drug and chemical residues out of beef products, but the issue has not received much media attention since.

“The new testing methods being announced today will help protect consumers from illegal drug residues in meat products,” said Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen. “By allowing us to test for more chemical compounds from each sample, these changes will enable USDA to identify and evaluate illegal drug residues more effectively and efficiently.”

Using new multi-residue methods, FSIS will be able to test for 55 pesticide chemicals, 9 kinds of antibiotics, various metals, and eventually more than 50 other chemicals”

via USDA to Ramp Up Drug Residue Testing for Meat and Poultry.

What results it will have or how effectively it will be implemented remains to be seen.  I still believe that consumer protests directly to the grocery store chains will have the most impact (like they did with pink slime). If you get a chance to sign a petition or express your position to Safeway, Trader Joes, Albertsons or other grocers about being willing to buy only antibiotic-free meat and poultry, I hope you will do so.

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