The Most Fertile Field in America

July 23, 2013 | By | Comments (0)

The poster for Sibella Kraus’s first Tasting of Summer produce, in 1983. Farmers are the roots; restaurants and distributors are the growing fruits and flowers (graphics by designer Noreen Rei Fukumori).

In our August issue, writer Janet Fletcher tells the story of how a cook at Berkeley’s Chez Panisse helped change how we eat and cook in the San Francisco Bay Area—and beyond.

Sibella Kraus started her Farm to Restaurant project back in 1983, when we had slim choice for fruits and vegetables —lettuce, for instance, basically meant iceberg or romaine. Every summer, she organized an event, held at various venues in the Bay Area, called The Tasting of Summer Produce, with gorgeous, then-unusual locally grown fruits and vegetables spread out on tables for sampling. It blew people’s minds, to put it mildly. Slurping up things like ripe Adriatic figs, heirloom tomatoes, and plumcots created an abiding appetite for more.

And every year, more farmers, chefs, and distributors joined the project’s growing network. The posters below show how it grew—and became a real-life field of dreams. (Hint: zoom in to see the detail.)

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Why did it end, in 1989? From the story: “Farmers told [Kraus] they no longer needed the event; they were selling all the produce they grew.”

Related: 20 ways with summer squash, from grilled veggies to inventive salads.


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