Farm-to-Table Cuisine Started in San Francisco

Photo courtesy of San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library

Have you made a reservation for the latest version of “farm-to-table” cuisine in a currently trendy San Francisco restaurant?

We relish (pun intended) the idea that San Franciscans were among the first to jump on the “foodie” bandwagon. Meals made from fresh food that is in season is a trend that started in San Francisco, at a restaurant called Shandygaff on Polk Street, in the late 1960s.

Mollie Katzen was a student at the San Francisco Art Institute. She started working in the kitchen of Shandygaff to support her art school classes. There was a vegetarian menu that changed daily. She took what she learned back to her home in New York and opened The Moosewood Restaurant. And she started writing cookbooks. In this video she is explaining how Health magazine named her one of five people who changed the way we view food.

San Francisco is also a pioneer of farmers’ markets. The Alemany Farmers’ Market was founded in 1943 as the first farmers’ market in California. This open air market was a way for farmers to sell their excess harvests at a time when transportation and distribution systems were being used for wartime needs. The photo is of the market in 1951. The market still operates, run by the city, and is open every Saturday year-round.

There is also the newer Farmers’ Market at the Ferry Building: