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Amazing Foodie Find: Forage SF’s Underground Market!

Posted Dec 06 2010 12:00am

Hi Everyone! I’d like to introduce my guest post for the day – from Jen at Foomies.com . Foomies is an online community serving as a meeting place for food enthusiasts, where users can coordinate lunch or dinner parties with one another. The Foomies platform allows users to search for individuals hosting meals in their homes, and encourages users to connect over home-cooked food.

Jen contacted me a week or so ago regarding doing a guest post – she wanted to share her experience at Forage SF’s Underground Market – which I thought sounded like a really cool idea! Reading through her post you’ll realize that this is an awesome foodie find – and definitely something worth checking out if you live in the Bay!

Guest Post: Forage SF’s Underground Market

It was in late September when I first learned about ForageSF and their underground markets. I was immediately drawn to the vision of the market, an event meant to showcase the foods of small food vendors. The event is “underground,” because most of the vendors participating in the market don’t actually carry food licenses and the health department does not inspect their foods. I’ve had home cooking before and know how good it is so I wasn’t too concerned about this technicality, plus the vendor list sounded too tempting to pass up!

Note from Forage SF: To be in most farmer’s markets in SF you need to be certified as the primary producer of the food you sell. Since wild foraged food grows on its own, there is technically no producer). There is also a wealth of delicious professional quality food being made in Bay Area home kitchens that cannot be shared in farmer’s markets. The first market was held in a private home in the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco, with 8 vendors, and about 200 attendees. It has grown to 47 vendors and over 1,200 people attending. The SF Underground Market is an incubator. A place where budding businesses can get a leg up on their road to legitimacy.

I went to the Oct. 9 event; it was on a Saturday from 5-11pm. This was their East Bay market (they typically alternate monthly between having
events in SF and the East Bay); it was hosted in an empty parking lot in Oakland between Broadway and Telegraph Ave. on 24th street. I arrived at around 6pm and was surprised to find a line had formed to get into the event, the place was packed!

After about a 10-minute wait I made it to the front of the line where I had to sign-up to become a member of ForageSF and pay $2.00 for entry… I later learned that the way they are able to host these events without getting shutdown for serving uninspected food is by hosting the event as a “private party” for club members, hence the requirement to become a member and at the same time sign off that you understand the food being sold is not inspected by the health department.

Once inside the gates the market was set up like a farmers market with what looked like 40+ tables of vendors lined up in a giant horseshoe shape
– that is where the similarities ended though.. the food as I later came to find were far more amazing than any local Sunday farmer’s market I’ve ever been to. There was a mass of people so it was a bit hard to get through the crowd, but once I got to the front of the tables I found delicious Indian food, liquor cakes, homemade ice cream… there were vendors selling things I rarely see including, sugar cane juice, dessert inspired tamales, phenomenal jams, jambalaya, vegan sausage, lumpia and so much more!


It was a lot of fun chatting with the vendors, hearing their stories and learning about their creations, many of which could very well go on to having commercial success. I would encourage those who haven’t yet been to an underground market to check one out; your taste buds will thank you!

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Thanks Jen for letting us know about this amazing foodie find! For those of you who are interested, the next Underground Market will be held on Saturday, December 18th, from 11am-4pm (for “take-homeables”) and hot food will be served from 6pm-midnight. For more information click here .

And on a totally separate note, my giveaway (for amazing, gourmet popcorn) closes in just 3 days! Be sure to enter here !

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