Not Just Store-Bought: Store-Grown

There are only so many farm-to-table stories out there, as evidenced by both Edible San Francisco and the San Francisco Chronicle featuring the ever-expanding Bi-Rite Grocery on the same day last week. The small store is situated near San Francisco’s Dolores Park, and is also the parent of Bi-Rite Creamery, which makes a much-loved (some say perfect) salted caramel ice cream. It’s the kind of grocery store where the herbs are grown on the roof, the hogs are butchered in the kitchen (and goats raised by Bill Niman himself show up in the meat case), and the owner, Sam Mogannam, apologizes for carrying tomatoes in the winter.

In fact, Mogannam feels so strongly about local, sustainably farmed produce that he bought property in Sonoma for the store’s half-acre farm, apparently making it the first grocery in San Francisco to grow its own food. This summer, the Chronicle reports, the land “produced more than 3,500 pounds of tomatoes, 500 pounds of eggplant, 400 pounds of peppers and 200 pounds of basil.” (And that’s when they didn’t even know what they were doing.) As Edible San Francisco writes in its in-depth account, “[t]he motivation behind the Bi-Rite Farm is to ‘close the loop,’ as Mogannam puts it, between soil and shelf.”

Of course, Bi-Rite has the San Francisco–luxury of not worrying too much about its prices. The store’s far from cheap and Mogannam’s unapologetic about it: “I’m not going to play the game of squeezing my suppliers. It’s tough when everybody else is hustling, trying to match the lowest price. Look at how Trader Joe’s does business.”

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