Greenleaf Produce gets fresh


Sometimes it seems as though if we get any closer to our food that soon we might be buying it a drink and inviting it to spend the night. Not that this is a bad thing, per se, just that we food-obsessed San Franciscans are always looking to get closer to the source of our meal, to be more in touch with local farms, the seasons, the hardships. Enter Greenleaf Produce. One of the first organic produce companies to open in San Francisco, Greenleaf got its start in 1975, founded by Jameson Patten, and was purchased after his death in 1993 by Bill Wilkinson, the (formerly) retired GM of the Campton Place Hotel. 33 years later it’s still going strong, with a client list that includes most of the finest restaurants in San Francisco and many of the most respected farms in California.

For chefs and food writers, Greenleaf is an invaluable resource—these people really know their stuff. Curious consumers can now get in on the action, too—on the Greenleaf website you can take advantage of their collective expertise by sneaking a peek at both their weekly bulletin and their monthly newsletter. The weekly bulletin is a newsy update about what you’ll be seeing (or not seeing) in the market during the coming week, along with some bonus info—this week, under the heading “Grapes” the report is: “Stored Chilean, the only grape game in town, and these are all but over; as a result, prices are up.” Wondering about potatoes this week? Prognosis negative: “Every year around now we’re scraping the bottom of the storage barrel and the tired Kennebecs’ starch has converted to sugar, which makes them fry up dark.” Somehow, armed with that information, grocery shopping—even at the corner store—makes more sense. Oh, you suddenly think to yourself, that’s why I’m not seeing any Meyer lemons.

The monthly newsletter goes even further into detail—each month you can read profiles of farmers along with a page called “Farm Direct Crops—What are local farms picking this month” so you know to be on the lookout for the first local organic strawberries, zucchini and fennel. There’s even a page titled “Seasonal Menu Planning” that is one you’ll want to clip and stick to the fridge, so you can know what’s new, “done” and best of the season. Armed with so much knowledge, there’s no excuse for selecting an out-of-season pear again.

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