Posts Tagged ‘health’

FruitStandHand - farmers market

Farm Fresh To Go


Words & Photos: Kelly Leslie

The sun has yet to awaken, but a sea of residents from the Bernal Heights neighborhood flood Alemany Boulevard farmers’ market with empty produce baskets, determined to find the best bang for their buck, until they overflow.

Conscious of the current economic downturn that has haunted our country for nearly five years, students have become intensely aware of the cost of food, all while trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid packing on the feared “freshmen fifteen.” The question that arises among many new shoppers is whether farmers’ markets are more or less expensive than chain stores like Safeway and Trader Joe’s, and even if you save money, do you sacrifice the quality of food when forced to buy in bulk quantities at large chains?

Regardless of their looks, the clerks at Whole Foods don’t have a say in the price of food. Even the ones with waist-long dreadlocks, plugs, and full-sleeve tattoos aren’t going to negotiate with you. But what about the Hells Angel-looking farmer-dude who stands in the setting sun with his pick-up bed still half full of produce aging in the twilight? Will he be willing to make a deal with you? Will he be receptive to your suggestion of fifty percent off in order to sell out for the day? Are you bold enough to bargain with him?

Venturing through the many markets scattered throughout San Francisco can answer some, if not all of these questions, but there are a few things students should take into consideration while doing their research. Just because an item at the farmers’ market isn’t certified organic, doesn’t mean that it wasn’t organically grown. The ambiance itself, oh so very European, may be what adds the quality of life in urban food-gathering culture. Price varies from farm to farm, and may change based on the time of day. Fruit and vegetable costs may follow the sun downward.

Another thought: Students may also want to note whether they can get everything they need and want at a farmers’ market. Can you purchase just one apple or do you have to buy a bushel? If you’re looking for packaged foods such as Kettle chips or dairy products, you might need to make a trip to the store like it or not.

At the corner of Alemany Boulevard and Tompkins Avenue, giant yellow and white commercial trucks, overflowing with crates filled with a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, crowd the perimeter of the market. Drivers carefully, but quickly, navigate their way through to find the nearest spot in the lot. The brisk air is filled with the incessant chatter of half-awake shoppers who eagerly await the week’s best finds.

“These carrots won the very highly looked-upon, Best Carrots of the Market award,” announces a worker at the Tomatero Farm booth proudly, as she hurries to arrange them in time for shoppers to take their pick. The bright orange carrots with long green, leafy stems are by far the largest at the market, and are guaranteed organically grown.


A few feet down the walkway a tall man with a full beard that covers the entire front of his neck, offers samples to passersby. Not quite green, but not quite red grapes are piled high on a table behind him.

“You have to taste these grapes,” he says. The sweet, juicy flavor that comes out of them is shocking compared to their dull, greenish-brown color. Everything at the market is fresh. “You’ve really got to taste [them],” announces a shopper as he walks by.

A farmer across the way draws attention to what looks like the world’s largest avocados.

“One bowl for eight dollars! This is a great deal,” he says. The table in front of him displays dozens of rich green, grapefruit-sized avocados. There are two in a bowl. “These would be great for making guacamole,” says a nearby shopper who is unable to resist.

Granny Smith Apples in Bernal Heights are two dollars a pound, while over in Parkside they are one dollar and twenty-nine cents a pound. At Trader Joe’s they are often marked seventy-nine cents each (so two dollars and thirty-seven cents per pound) and although not organic at

Safeway, you still pay one dollar and seventy-nine cents for a pound.

The sun has finally made its appearance and begins to warm the crowd as it rises higher in the sky. An eager young shopper, dressed in a striped shirt, jeans and flip-flop sandals, is excited to find fresh ginger. He announces that he has never seen it priced so low before. The farmer quickly erases the chalkboard, increasing the price before anyone notices.

“I must have it priced too low,” he says.

Aside from the farmers who hastily arrange produce, change prices, and tend to customers, no one else seems to be in a hurry. Everyone is friendly and smiling here. Dressed in a light blue tank top and jeans with her hair tied in a ponytail, Amrita Emily Rumberger, a w

orker at the Bluehouse Farm booth, looks up and smiles.

“Farmers’ markets guarantee access to amazing quality produce, and it’s affordable,” she says. “The best part is the personal service,” chimed in her co-work

er, Andy Mullin, eager to strike up conversation.

Simone Shifnadel, owner of Zenbelly catering in San Francisco, enjoys being able to speak with farmers face-to-face and ask exactly what was used to grow the produce she buys.

“I noticed that the food at farmers’ markets is just so much more beautiful,” she says. Shifnadel buys all of her produce from the Stonestown farmers’ market, weekly. “[It’s] better because it’s fresher,” she adds. “Sometimes I forget about lettuce I bought at the market and it is still fresh a week later.”

Sunday afternoon, the Parkside neighborhood is in state of what seems to be a torrential downpour, but the red and white sign still points toward the farmers’ market in the parking lot at Stonestown Galleria.

“Farmers’ market today!” is written in giant red letters. White tents line the walkways as farmers and shoppers huddle inside to negotiate prices. It’s later in the day and farmers are offering up deals.

“I see you every week,” says a farmer to a middle-aged woman who scours the selection of iceberg lettuce for the best head for sell. “I’ll throw in some kale for free.”

It’s this community element that draws some people to the market. For others, it’s about being aware of what’s going into the body.

There is only one way to be sure of what you are eating, according to Shifnadel. “It’s simple,” she says. “Eat real foods.”

By “real foods,” she’s saying foods that aren’t processed. That means no Twinkies or Hot Pockets — ever. Taking a look inside Shifnadel’s grocery bag can give a better idea of what these “real foods” are — lettuce, kale, and broccoli just to name a few. “You never have to ask what an apple is made of,” she says.

That is why she, and the throng of others at the farmers’ market choose to do their shopping here — so they know just where their food comes from. Looking for one in your neighborhood? Here’s a list to help you find your local market.

SF State Students Weigh in on Truths Behind Juice Cleanse Fad

By xpressmagazine


Aleeza Brown plays around with the all natural ingredients that will go into her juice, Feb. 19. Photo by Sam Battles

Written by Haley Brucato


Bags of fresh fruits and vegetables line the steel counter tops in a cramped college apartment. The vibrant colors provide a stark contrast to the habitual empty Seniore’s pizza boxes and abandoned Quickly’s cups usually lining the corner of the kitchen. The group of students work together in a line, and pass down dozens of tomatoes, apples, oranges, carrots and heads of broccoli methodically. One pony-tailed girl rinses at the sink, while a small, muscular male brushes the hair from his eyes and begins slicing quickly, halving a pear, chopping zucchinis and stacking up eggplants, forming a teetering tower of produce.

 A motor suddenly hums to life in the background, whirring in rotation, ready to swallow anything that gets thrown in its mouth. A young student begins shoving things in the opening, and expertly pushes everything in reach through the top. Juice slowly drips out of the spout. First red, then orange and green -The food creates a liquid rainbow. This frothy concoction will be dinner. Grumbling stomachs eagerly await the tomato shot for dessert – though their taste buds beg to differ. These five SF State students will repeat this process more than three times a day for about ten days.

Juice cleanses are all the craze right now, evident from the well publicized celebrity detoxes, and the recent growing popularity and inspiration stemming from Joe Cross’ documentary film, “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,” in which Cross takes on a 60-day cleanse to transform his health and successfully rid himself of an impairing skin disease. With independent juice bars beginning to pop up all across the country, this fad is quickly becoming mainstream. Angela Trinh, owner of PowerSource Cafe and juice bar, has seen a recent spike in popularity of her fresh squeezed juices.

For the cleanse, fruits and vegetables will be freshly juiced multiple times a day, and replace solid food for three, five or even ten-days. And the biggest catch – no alcohol, no caffeine, no nicotine. Not exactly an easy feat for a group of college students whose bodies are accustomed to ingesting those three detriments on a regular basis.


Life Beyond Takeout

By xpressmagazine

Written by Haley Brucato Photos by Nelson Estrada


Constant snacks for late night study sessions and a quick slice after a night at the bar can easily be the cause of steady weight gain in college. It’s time to stop using money as an excuse for daily junk eating. Low-cost healthy alternatives are out there, and easily accessible for on-the-go students who balance work, internships, classes and a social life.

When students find themselves  constantly saying “Tomorrow is time to eat healthier and finally lose this weight,” but can’t resist the urges, it’s time to consider other options. Physical and mental health won’t improve unless students truly start paying attention to their nutritional habits.

Ashley Hathaway, a certified nutritional therapist and Gut and Psychology Syndrome practitioner in San Francisco, believes that students on a tight budget are still capable of buying nutritional foods that won’t break the bank. Hathaway stresses that the budget conscious focus on quality versus quantity. Many students tend to grab things that are immediately satisfying to eat in the moment, like a donut or cup of coffee in the morning, but, according to Hathaway, they are only putting their money towards empty calories.

“They get a jolt from that,” explains Hathaway. “But later get quickly hungry because the body hasn’t truly been nourished.”

Civilian bootcamp

By xpressmagazine

The alarm next to your bed goes off at 5:30 in the morning and as tempting as it sounds to just hit snooze and enjoy the comfort of your warm bed, you decide against it. It’s pitch black outside and your room is icy cold but somehow you force yourself to stand up. The holiday season is upon us but there is no excuse to gain that warm winter weight. Throw on some workout clothes and hurry up because you’re about to burn off last nights sugar cookie(s) and don’t forget to grab a water bottle and a small towel because your first boot camp class starts in 30 minutes.

It is too early to function and your eyes can barely stay open. Standing next to a handful of other people, who look equally as tired, you wonder what the hell you got yourself into. You cannot remember the last time you have been awake this early.

“Welcome to operation rapid response! Arms up, level with your shoulders. Elevate your knees to your hips on each kick. Keep your back straight. Keep going!” START fitness instructor Bianca Buresh yells.

Suddenly you’re running in place and the blood starts flowing. There’s really no time to think because the instructor transitions quickly through exercises. Today’s work-out consists of thirty minutes of indoor training, then thirty minutes outdoors. Many boot camp classes can be both indoors and outdoors and can be for people of all fitness levels. Today’s indoor training class focuses on muscular strength, stamina and overall aerobic conditioning while outdoor training includes running, sprinting and focuses on developing aerobic efficiency.

Loud music begins playing in the background. You start to wake up. The music helps you get focused motivated. “Mountain climbers! Lets get down on the ground!” Bianca yells out. She shows everyone what to do by getting in the push-up position and alternating her right knee to your chest and then the left knee, then tells everyone to do the same and as quickly as possible. Thirty seconds of this and you’re back on your feet jumping up, then dropping to the ground doing push-ups. Twenty more repetitions! Jumping, dropping to the ground, push-ups; it feels never-ending. Bianca instructs everyone to shout ‘hoorah’ after the last push-up. Everyone begins counting down from ten and then finally you get to the last push-up. Yes, almost finished!

“I didn’t hear everyone shout hoorah!” Bianca says. “You’re going to do ten more repetitions! Don’t forget to yell hoorah this time.” There are no breaks to get water or let you catch your breath. It’s up to you to excuse yourself to do either of these. Once the indoor session is finished everyone hurries outside.

Instructors at START fitness do not yell at people to do an exercise and are trained to motivate and coach people by demonstrating proper exercise techniques. Boot camps are not just for the military anymore. Many boot camp fitness groups are located around San Francisco, usually downtown, along the Embarcadero, at Crissy Field and in the Marina district. People actually pay to attend these intense fitness boot camp classes.

Army National Guard Staff Sergeant, Ken Weichert, and his wife Stephanie Weichert, founded START fitness, one of San Francisco’s first civilian boot camps. The boot camp formed in 1997 and is the longest running boot camp in the country. It is a group exercise program and incorporates military-style workouts.

Imagine jogging alongside a six-time soldier of the year, master fitness trainer and veteran of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Desert Storm. Probably not in one of your top three things to daydream about, or imagine yourself adding to your Tuesday’s to-do list. For a small group of individuals living in San Francisco, this has become their favorite way to work out.

Sgt. Ken has devoted his life to promoting fitness, resilience, leadership and getting people into shape. So move aside yoga classes, there’s a new, bad-ass fitness group in town. Maybe there’s something about a tall, military-looking guy that really motivates an individual to push themselves as hard as they can. These military trained instructors are one of many reasons boot camps are becoming more popular.

The training techniques used by START fitness instructors are also practiced by the U.S. military. Ken and Stephanie have trained thousands of soldiers through Operation Fit to Fight, a fitness instructor training program they started. This program was was created to train soldiers for basic combat training. Many exercises from this program are similar to those in that are in START fitness workouts. Ken and Stephanie also produce health and fitness programs for GX Magazine ( a National Guard Magazine), and programs for the National Guard and Military websites.

The exercises are created to target target specific muscle groups and a person can burn between 600 and 800 calories in one sixty-minute class session.

Sgt Ken has been has served the military for seventeen years and travels around the country to train soldiers before they are deployed. Ken is usually in San Francisco for one week out of a month.

So, you just wrapped up the first thirty minutes indoors of the fitness boot camp class, now you’re outside and it’s time to work out for another thirty minutes. Bianca instructs the class to do lunges uphill for one block then continue jogging uphill another three blocks until you reach Lafayette Park located at Sacramento and Gough Streets. There, the class jogs up a flight of stairs, does push-ups at the top, jogs back down and is told to do suicides. This continues until the end of class.

Your muscles are shaky and you feel a little nauseous but you can’t help but smile and feel good about yourself.

According to multiple Yelp reviews, the START fitness boot camps,”really kicks your ass!” Whether you make this a daily routine is up to you. Six in the morning is early, but at least you get it out of the way and still have time for school and work. Maybe thinking about all the bad food you want to eat this season will be enough motivation.

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