Health Department Shuts Down ForageSF Underground Market

isorabins2.jpg
Jake Poehls
Iso Rabins
San Francisco health inspectors abruptly shut down the "underground" market run by wild-foods cooperative ForageSF last weekend, calling the future of the event into question as its popularity continues to grow.

ForageSF founder Iso Rabins told SF Weekly that he was issued a cease-and-desist order by two officials from the Department of Public Health at the market on Saturday. He said he will meet with health inspectors on Thursday to try to determine a way to bring the market into line with regulations governing food vendors, which it has so far managed to circumvent.

"I can't do it again until I meet with them and figure out how to do it legally," he said.

State and local regulations dictate that food sold at farmers' markets be produced in commercial kitchens. The underground market had gotten around this restriction -- at the suggestion, originally, of a San Francisco health inspector -- by billing itself as a private, "members-only" event. Patrons can sign up for membership online, and pay a $5 entrance fee to the market.

Rabins and ForageSF, both the subject of heavy media attention in recent months, were first profiled in SF Weekly back in March 2009. Even then, Rabins was walking a delicate line in his effort to purvey food from unconventional sources without violating health regulations.

Rabins said he was under the impression that the enforcement action on Saturday was a result of pressure from state regulators, who may not have been thrilled with San Francisco inspectors' permissive attitude to the market. "I guess they've been getting pressure from the state, which wasn't really happy about the market," Rabins said. "They're not buying the members-only thing."

We'll let you know more when we hear back from the Department of Public Health.

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10 comments
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citoyenmag
citoyenmag

This place was too hyped anyway. $7 for banh mi? Not impressed. I'd rather just hang with the tamal lady at 24th Street, or eat homemade cookies at Dolores Park. 

Jenniferfick
Jenniferfick

Finally attended a market day, and now this! Sad to see our food options limited by "well intended" officials. Don't we have the right to determine what we choose to eat??

Roland Michel
Roland Michel

This Bites! Come on, these vendors aren't going to hurt anybody, they are their customers after all. Next the Government is going to come into your kitchens and tell you what and howto cook. And who hasn't gotten ill at a legally sanctioned, health-inspected, Government approved Restaurant at least once in their lives... it's the crapshoot of the food industry,sometimes sh*t happens! Puns intended... 

EricPanzer
EricPanzer

Have you ever read The Jungle? Even if vendors fully intend to sell safe food, the health regulations are there make sure they do. If you think this isn't a big deal, there are some German sprout-consumers who might want a word with you.

Better that they work with the Health Department to work out the kinks than someone gets sick and sues them out of existence.

Olegitcherguns
Olegitcherguns

You folks wouldn't last 5 minutes in Wisconsin!! Lol

Shellyljackson
Shellyljackson

Have YOU ever read The Jungle? The entire book is based on the PROBLEMS with government intervention- regulations and red tape. The USDA is exactly the organization that is turning its eyes from pesticides and GM foods. A local band of food makers is   thriving in this awful economy and the govt hates that! THey aren't seeing a dime from this- and that's what is pissing them off! 

mike parker
mike parker

here's a guy not only circumventing health codes, profiting from his forage forays but also flouting state fish and game regulations by suggesting that sport fishing license holders can sell their catch. Though perhaps well intentioned Mr. Rabins is bad news for the native flora and fauna of the greater bay area and beyond.

Arch19
Arch19

Have you gone to one of the markets? No one's selling fish or wild game or even foraged items. It's mostly jams and baked goods, and a fantastic outlet for small-scale, artisan producers. The epitome of slow food and a pretty ingenious idea... if we could just stop regulating every damn thing.

FarmhouseCulture
FarmhouseCulture

Oh no! I just recommended the Underground Market to a gluten-free bread maker here in Santa Cruz. It's such a great resource for new food producers who aren't big enough to afford the high permit fees.

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