The Year in Food: DIY Revolution

Joseph Schell
Pickles from Happy Girl Kitchen Co. at the Eat Real Fest, which drew 110,000 to Oakland for street food and urban homesteading demos.
Twelve months, ten storylines: It's SFoodie's annual look back at the year in food.

At the far end of the spectrum from street food and fine dining, another trend exploded in the Bay Area in 2010: DIY food and urban homesteading.

One of the biggest evidences of the DIY food movement played out in blogs on a global scale: Tigress' Can Jam encouraged food bloggers everywhere to can a different ingredient every month, and hundreds took the bait, including San Franciscans Cam and Anita at Married ...with Dinner, Paige of Canning with Kids in the South Bay, and Marin-based award-winning jam maker Shae of Hitchhiking to Heaven.

FARMcurious sprang up to outfit DIY enthusiasts.
​Inspired by the likes of Oakland's Novella Carpenter (whose book, Farm City, came out in paperback in May 2010), scads of Bay Area residents took up animal husbandry in their homes. Chickens became all the rage; I can personally think of several friends who added coops to their backyards, including Gudrun of Kitchen Girl Cooks.

Of course this newfound interest created its own little economic bubble, and cottage industries popped up all around the bay. Nicole Kramer launched FARMcurious, a one-stop shop for all things homesteady, and Her Majesty's Secret Beekeeper briefly brought beekeeping supplies to the heart of the Mission. Classes in everything from chutney to cheese making became abundant, at venues like 18 Reasons, Urban Kitchen SF, the Institute of Urban Homesteading, BioFuel Oasis, and Happy Girl Kitchen. There was a bumper crop of books from Bay Area writers: Rachel Saunders of Blue Chair Fruit released a hefty tome of jams and preserves; Vanessa Barrington taught us how to make everything D.I.Y. Delicious; and Karen Solomon got picked up for a sequel to her 2008 book Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It, due out in early 2011. Oh, and I launched Punk Domestics in July, with an aim to build a curated space for DIY-driven self-publishers everywhere.

Monthly SF Underground Markets provided outlets with a party vibe for home-based food entrepreneurs.
​DIYers looked to capitalize on their passions, fueling the genesis of he SF Underground Market, the East Bay's Pop-Up General Store and Beehive Market, and Homegrown Marin Market. A few made the leap to commercial production, like Dafna Kory of INNA Jam and Slow Jams' Shakirah Simley.

All of this came to a hand-crafted climax at Oakland's Eat Real Fest in August, which drew 110,000 to Jack London Square. Alongside the equally trendy street food purveyors were stages where various experts, many from the aforementioned sites and businesses, demonstrated the hows and whys of homesteading.

Whether the trend will grow through 2011 remains to be seen, but there are signs of hope. A number of preserving bloggers are looking to take on 12 months of meat curing, via Michael Ruhlman's Charcuterie, and I predict we will see an increased interest in home cheese making.

Other 2010 trends:
- Filipino Finds Its Voice
- Local Media Explodes
- Big-Ticket Dining Surges
- Pizza Pizza Pizza Pizza
- Vegan Goes Mainstream
- Cocktails Get More Respect
- Coffee Seeps Farther
- Street Food Gets Serious

Sean Timberlake is the founder of Punk Domestics, a content and community site for DIY food enthusiasts. Follow SFoodie on Twitter: @sfoodie.
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