It’s quite a stretch to compare Berkeley to Silicon Valley. At first glance they seem the opposite of each other, but these two areas share one important attribute: they are hubs of innovation. While Silicon Valley is defined (or defining) the hi-tech world, Berkeley is seeking new sustainable, environmental, community models.
There is no need to decide which is better or even which to join. You can run your CSA (Community Assisted Agriculture) business virtually from your iPad (1 or 2). And many companies in Silicon Valley are anxiously seeking ways to keep their staff fit and healthy by offering gym facilities and nourishing menus in their canteens.
Three Stone Hearth is a community kitchen on University Avenue in Berkeley. While it has been around since 2006, the move to this central artery of Berkeley (it is the main street to the university and town center, and in the other direction to the freeway).
It embodies the Community Supported Agriculture model – you pre-order whatever is on the menus – but it also offers a chance to work as part of a cooperative and is a teaching facility so that you can learn how to cook healthy food yourself.
Three Stone Hearth mainly uses natural ingredients such as:
– organically (and local) farmed produce, grains, and nuts
– pasture raised meats, eggs, and dairy products
– unrefined sweeteners
– traditional fats
Three Stone Hearth are sensitive to reducing their carbon footprint. Their food is packed in re-usable glass containers, and they compost their waste. They also make a conscious effort to buy their ingredients from local farms.
I was surprised when I looked at their menu by the variety and richness of their recipes. This is no bland ‘rice and beans or else’ menu. Neither is it a vegetarian haven – there are many meat dishes available. On the particular day that I saw the menu it included soups, desserts, and a variety of drinks and cheeses.
What I feel is great about this enterprise is the community kitchen model, whereby everyone can learn and participate. But it also serves an important role for those who cannot cook or don’t have the time. Being a member of this co-op allows you to easily serve nutritious meals a few times a week or more. And if it is expensive, you have the option of working some of the cost off.
Now excuse me, I must rush and throw some mac ‘n cheese into the micro for the kids.
Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).