For the last couple of years, New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman has been having an extended love affair with California, and with the Bay Area in particular. It seems like he might as well move here full time at this point, and that may already be in the cards KQED reports that he'll be here for another full academic year at least. But for now we have the premiere of his new web series California Matters, which takes us on an urban foraging tour of the streets of Berkeley, where Berkeley profs Philip Stark and Tom Carlson show Bittman just how many weeds growing out of sidewalks in the East Bay can be picked and eaten. (And, for the squeamish, they do recommend rinsing everything off, in case of dog pee.)
Stark and Carlson run a website detailing all the edible greens (and fruits, herbs, and nuts) that they've found growing wild around the East Bay, with photos to help identify them. And this kind of foraging is nothing new for local restaurants chefs like Saison's Josh Skenes have been roaming the Presidio and Marin on foraging expeditions for years now and serving the stuff they find.
Bittman's fascination with the Golden State goes back at least to 2012, when he wrote an extended series about farming in the Central Valley. Then last September, he raved on and on about his love for downtown SF Thai spot Kin Khao. And then as of January he was wintering in Berkeley as a fellow at the Berkeley Food Institute, and beginning to film this series.
So, you can expect to see, and read, a lot more of him around here for months to come.
Below, the trailer for the full series, which will tackle various topics regarding the food system in four- to seven-minute episodes.