Lucky for me I was able to be in town for Labor Day weekend, and immersed myself in Slow Food Nation as well as San Francisco's Sunday Streets event.
It's so inspiring that wholistic urban sustainability is becoming a reality, and that is making carbon-reduction fun, profitable, innovative and, yes, delicious.
My family and I took our bikes to the ferry to the sunny city and pedeled around the car-free city streets, with roller skaters, tricyclists, runners, walkers and pogo-stickers.
The Sunday Streets events was the first if its kind for San Francisco. This year Portland, Oregon, and New York City have already done the same, in the mold of Bogota, Columbia's Ciclovia. It was a big hit, stressing physical fitness at different stations along the waterfront with activities for the kids and hula hoops for everyone else. Kudos to Mayor Newsom, the department of parking and traffic that blocked off auto traffic and all the volunteers.
Our destination was the Victory Garden in front of San Francisco City Hall, the community centerpiece of the Slow Food Nation festival. Slow Food Nation celebrated local, organic, tasty, fair and humane American food, the largest celebration of its kind, with 60,000 attending the three-day proceedings.
Besides the gorgeous 1/3-acre victory garden, where children and adults visibily delighted in experiencing a working food plot (200 pounds going to food banks this week alone), we went to a tasting of some of the best food purveyors in the nation Saturday evening.
Some food highlights: a truly white (clear) old vine Fume Blanc from Oregon, Rubicon's 2004 estate red, chocolate from Madgasgar, pickled vegetables, acme bread pizza, wild coffee beans from Eritrea.
I also chatted with many luminaries: Vandana Shiva, who is saving thousands of species of rice from extinction in India; John Knox, co-founder of the Earth Island Institute and Michael Dimock, of the Roots of Change fund, which helped Slow Food organize the event.
Sue Conley co-founder of the Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes, CA, told me that higher energy prices have made her legendary cheese business take off even more recently.
She opined that we are at a watershed moment, when locally produced food starts to lose its "gourmet" connotations and starts to be known as the healthy, high quality way to put our money where our mouths are, which will help local economies while preserving our valuable farm and pastureland from getting paved over forever.