Naturally Artisanal

Passionate About Natural & Organic Food with An Artisanal Twist

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Andronico’s Seafood Program, Retail Bay Area Leader – Sustainable Seafood (Fishwise program)

Posted by smfierro on June 4, 2010

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and are the least bit a ‘foodie’, you know about Andronico’s Market. But did you know that since 2003 their seafood program is based entirely on the science of the Monterey Bay Aquarium 2010 Sustainable Seafood Watch Guide and Fishwise program? Thanks to the foresight and passion of Andronico’s over 30 year seafood expert and buyer, Reid Pomerantz, the program is touted as one of the best retail seafood programs in the Bay Area.

For Pomerantz, in the ‘80s when people were hearing a lot about the health benefits of fish and started to pay more attention to what they ate, this is when his love of seafood was taken to another level of excellence, as he was suddenly deluged by an onslaught of demand and questions about the many varieties of seafood. At this point, he had a perfect opportunity to educate people about seafood and deliver the customer service he was so well-known for, which he loved. He was so good at understanding and addressing the needs of customers that upper management at Safeway, his employer at the time, took notice and asked him to help develop the sales training program for new hires which took around 12 months to complete. For Pomerantz, it is a combination of outstanding customer service and product knowledge, as well as a truly environmentally responsible offering of seafood products, that makes a retail seafood program great.                                                       

Today, and particularly in the SF Bay Area, consumers are becoming much more conscious of purchasing fresh seafood that has been sustainably raised, caught and delivered to their fresh fish provider.

You may not know that Andronico’s was the first retailer in the Bay Area to go wild with salmon and the first to sell ‘frozen at sea’ salmon. Pomerantz met some fisherman a few years back who introduced him to the method of freezing freshly caught fish within 45 minutes of catching and bleeding them. After selling over 100K pounds of in their first season, all the retailers in the area followed suit. Still, it is important to point out that farmed seafood can sometimes be just as good, or maybe even better with regards to sustainability, as wild seafood. It is a matter of the fishery/aquaculture environment that makes this distinction.

At this time, Andronico’s seafood offerings year round according to the Seafood Watch Guide for the West Coast are around 50 percent in the green (Best Choice), 45 percent in the yellow (Good Alternatives) and 5 percent in the red (Avoid) – due to customer demand and difficulty in finding the product. In the counter in adherence to the Fishwise labeling program, country of origin, production and catch method label every fresh seafood offering in the case. Try their wild salmon now, as the spring and summer are great for this fish. And Alaskan halibut is right there with the salmon. In the winter, crab is a popular choice. Still, year round, Andronico’s carries fresh, sustainably raised and caught fish. Their knowledgeable fish pros should be able to answer any other questions you have.

Still, to deliver such a stringent and high quality program doesn’t come cheaply. Andronico’s has found that consumers are willing to pay for more sustainably raised seafood even during the economic downturn. Pomerantz has observed the abundance of fresh seafood that the Bay Area was once known for, become severely depleted by what he believes to be a combination of poor fishing practices and environmental abuse. Premium product costs Andronico’s more to source and therefore the price is passed on to their customers.  

My passion for food and being environmentally responsible are why I wanted to share a bit about how Andronico’s is making a contribution to providing only the most environmentally healthy products.

Go visit a store and talk more with their fish professionals. They take great pride in their product knowledge and ability to help you make the best choices for you and your family!

Andronico’s is located in eight locations around the Bay Area including:
– San Francisco
– 4 Berkeley locations
– Los Altos
– Palo Alto
– San Anselmo

Helpful Links:


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Caffeine Sensitive? Caffeine-addicted/Coffee Lover? Not caffeine-addicted/Like Coffee? Health Conscious? Environmentally Conscious? A great coffee alternative for those of us who like coffee…

Posted by smfierro on May 21, 2010

“I love my coffee and am not giving it up!”  “I have only one vice, and that is that I can’t start my day without my coffee!  “I need to have that caffeine fix or I drag for the rest of the day.”  “I can’t quit because I get headaches.”  These are just a few of the comments I have heard from so many friends, colleagues and acquaintances over the years.  And for those of you who count drinking coffee as your only vice, well congratulations to you!  This article is not about quitting coffee and is good news to those of you who are coffee drinkers and concerned about your health.

Please, continue to have your daily coffee.  But what about folks who love coffee and have been told they have developed a health condition that precludes them from ever drinking coffee

Teeccino 11oz. Resealable Bags, 10 Flavors

?  And what about those of you who are morning only coffee drinkers who wish you could enjoy coffee throughout the day, but cannot have that much caffeine later in the day?  Are there any alternatives for them which could possibly stack up to a full-bodied cup of coffee and satisfy that desire?  My experience is a resounding yes!

Again, for those of you who feel as though you can’t live without at least your daily morning cup of coffee, this article is not about dissuading you from continuing that practice.

However, if you are honest with yourself, haven’t you ever secretly dreamed about finding a great tasting coffee that does not produce the negative side affects of caffeine, has a positive impact on your health, that you can drink all day long while producing healthy side effects, including giving you that same energy boost you rely on caffeine to give you in the morning?  Caroline MacDougall, the CEO and Founder of Teeccino, shared with me when we spoke recently before she flew off to Europe, that she literally did have a dream about this very topic because she is caffeine sensitive, loves the flavor of coffee and kept thinking about a way to create a caffeine-free coffee.  In her dream she was saying “My next product is to create a caffeine-free cappuccino and it will be called Teeccino!”  She woke up saying just that and the rest is history!

With over 30 years in the herb tea industry, being caffeine-sensitive herself and loving the flavor of coffee, MacDougall set out to create a drink that would be roasted and ground to brew like coffee.  After creating well-known tea lines such as the Republic of Tea’s “Be Well Red” line of 17 teas and Organic India’s 18 Tulsi teas, while acting as the Minister of Herbs, and apprenticing under world-renowned herbalist, Juliette de Bairacli Levy, it is no wonder she was able to create a ‘non-caffeine coffee’ in her kitchen that achieved the flavor of coffee she loves so much!  In 1994 she founded her company, Teeccino.

She found a way to combine herbs, grains, fruits and nuts roasted to brew and taste like coffee.  I drink Teeccino every week and love it.  The great thing is I prefer non-caffeinated beverages and healthier drinks, but do enjoy that occasional cup of coffee.  Teeccino is a great alternative to coffee.  My favorite flavors are Mocha and Vanilla Nut.

The great thing about Teeccino is it is truly a healthy indulgence.  Unlike experiencing some of the negative health effects of consuming too much caffeine, Teeccino is a drink you can enjoy throughout the day, on a daily basis, and experience multiple health benefits:

–  non-acidic

–  gluten free

–  heart healthy potassium and soluble fiber

–  naturally caffeine-free

–  improves digestion, elimination and intestinal health

–  great coffee replacement for those who have health conditions which eliminate coffee and caffeine from their diets

Other lifestyle benefits:

–  Enjoy it with your children!  Remember, it only brews and tastes like coffee, but is non-caffeinated and healthy…

–  “Kick The Caffeine Habit in 2 Weeks” Teeccino program

–  Combine Teeccino with coffee to decrease your amount of caffeine intake

–  Ways to drink like coffee:  Iced, Espresso, French Press, Filter Cone, Drip Coffee Maker, Latte, Cappuccino…..

–  Kosher

So Teeccino can be enjoyed by anyone…even kids!  And there’s more good news…

Teeccino has 75 and 100 percent USDA organic flavors, and has a commitment to fair trade.  All of Teeccino’s ingredients are grown by farmers exclusively for the company in the US, Europe, India and Guatemala.  In India, organic chicory is grown and in Guatemala, Teeccino only sources USDA organic ramon nuts, which limits them, as there is only one rain forest certified USDA organic, the Maya Biosphere Reserve.  In Guatemala, Teeccino supports family farmers and rain forest village families by creating new trade in this developing country in the area of promoting organic and fair trade values.  The challenge is that in the various countries where Teeccino sources their ingredients, the trees which produce and drop fruit, for example, do not all act together and this makes harvests unpredictable.  MacDougall and her team continue to seek out additional sources for organic ingredients to continue to bring Teeccino to stores across the country.

Currently you can purchase Teeccino online and in most health food/specialty retail stores at around $10USD for an 11oz. bag (312g).  It is also available in specialty stores in Canada, the UK, China and Japan.  Flavors and roast types include:

–  Mediterranean (75 percent organic):  Almond Amaretto, Vanilla Nut, Hazelnut, Java, Original, Mocha, and Chocolate Mint;  Roast Types: Medium and light

–  Maya (100 percent organic):  Caffé / French Roast, Chocolaté, and Chai; Roast Types: Dark, French roast, and Medium

–  Boutique (75 percent organic):  French Vanilla, Pumpkin Spice, Caramel Nut, Chocolate Raspberry, and Southern Pecan;  Roast Types: Dark and Medium

So what’s next for Teeccino?  Several new and exciting products set to be launched between this and next year.  Those include:

–  August 2010, Teeccino Tee Bags:  Individual ‘tea’ bags with Teeccino’s top selling flavors (French Roast, Hazelnut, Maya Chocolate, Vanilla Nut)

–  Fall 2010, Teeccino with roasted dandelion root (barley-free):  This product line is barley-free for people who still don’t want to drink Teeccino because of their fears about gluten.  The current Teeccino line of products is gluten-free, however, there are some who are uncomfortable with the barley ingredient, so the company developed this new line to address those concerns.  They are waiting to harvest the new crop.

And next year don’t be surprised if you start to see any Teeccino products in independent coffee shops!

Teeccino is easy to purchase online or in your local natural food retailer.  Also, join their active online community.  It is a great place to speak with others who probably are talking your language!


–  Sign-up for the newsletter at

–  Follow them on Twitter, Myspace, Facebook, YouTube

Try Teeccino and tell me what you think!  I would love to get your feedback and thoughts about this product.  And feel free to share your recipes.

Posted in coffee, drink, food, artsian food, natural, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Environmentally Sustainable Beef Practices Producing Delicious Steaks

Posted by smfierro on December 30, 2009

As a fairly new East Coast transplant to the Bay Area who is highly carnivorous and wants to be environmentally supportive, I have faced a bit of a challenge given my love of beef and some evidence that beef is a major cause for global warming.   I want to feel good about what I eat, so imagine my excitement to learn about a movement for sustainable beef!

What?  …..sustainable beef…???  And even better, it tastes good! So for me, it is great to know that beef production can actually be good for the environment, as we only seem to hear from organizations that are diametrically opposed to the eating of any meat, period. Enter The Artisan Beef Movement.  I want to share this with you, my fellow beef enthusiasts, so you can join me.

Recently I participated in an “Artisan Steak Tasting” led by Carrie Oliver, the pioneer of the Artisan Beef Movement, and Founder & CEO of  The Artisan Beef Institute (ABI, and The Oliver Ranch Company ( in what many might consider to be one of the most unlikely places in the country to find highly carnivorous, beef lovers….San Francisco!  The term ‘Artisan Beef’ is synonymous with supporting sustainability.  Yes, it’s true, California is even leading the sustainability movement in beef…..

ABI defines ‘Artisan Beef’ as like a fine wine.  At the minimum you know the name of the farm(s), breed, growing region, and aging time & technique.

Oliver says “Flavor and texture vary by ranch. It’s time that we celebrate this rather than try to hide it.”

She emphasizes having picked-up where the natural and organic meat movements left off.  Oliver’s focus is not just on production standards, but also on flavor, texture, and the emotional benefits of knowing what’s on your plate and how it got there. For this, she only begins at the ranch.  Great beef requires Care and talent at all steps from farm to fork figure into flavor and texture, including in transportation, at the slaughterhouse, butcher, retailer, and at home.

Oliver has spent half a decade studying the beef industry in all its forms and built ABI from scratch, which at the risk of oversimplifying, is the unprecedented and surprisingly logical set of standards created by Oliver which define what is required to produce delicious beef in an environmentally sustainable way.  Just as fine wine has a set of guidelines, terminology and standards set forth for tasting and selecting excellent wines, so has ABI created these for beef.  As a participating ‘beef taster’ at an Artisan Beef Tasting, participants take on the role of ‘beef sommelier’, so to speak.  Oliver has taken a set of principles followed by a minority of ranches around the world and has for the first time in the beef world, created a tasting guide and the terminology used in it, and pulled the entire process and standards required, which combine to produce the concept of Artisan Beef.

Under one umbrella she provides a logical and detailed set of standards that she defines as Artisan Beef.  She will be the first to tell you there are ranches and other beef industry artisans who have been following these standards for years, however, few have documented, organized together or produced a way to champion this environmentally sustainable art of producing great product.  Oliver, through ABI, is the first to present everything under one roof.  She does it in a way that consumers and all other involved parties can understand it and even participate in the movement as students, beef tasters or beef tasting hosts.  And she makes it possible for the consumer to identify ranches that follow this philosophy.

At a beef tasting, you might hear from guest panelists such as Artisan ranchers and/or butchers, who in combination with Oliver, provide the attendees with education around what Artisan Beef is, and the factors and complexities combining to give each steak its flavor and texture….the ‘field to fork’ process, if you will.  And believe it or not, there really is a difference in taste and texture between not only different cuts of beef but between the same cut of beef from different producer teams.  At tastings, participants have the opportunity to learn why that is and to pass around terms describing their tasting experiences, which sound surprisingly similar to the kind of banter you might experience in a wine tasting environment.  Oliver takes care to keep things fun rather than too serious, asking guests to imagine sitting next to this beef at a dinner party and figuring out what kind of personality they have.  Are they Reserved? Or more Adventurous, likethe life of the party? She even categorizes beefs based on her tasting notes & overall evaluation, such as Gateway Beef™ (grass-fed that tastes like grain-fed) or Marriage Material™ Beef.

For example, my dry-aged, grass-finished Angus Cross New York Strip Loin from one ranch cut like butter, had a harmonious personality, a long-lasting impression and sweet notes reminiscent of caramelized vegetables, while a dry-aged, grass-finished Black Angus-Cross New York Strip Loin from another ranch had an interesting bite and adventurous personality, with ocean notes, a tanginess and mushroom undertones.

So why might two steaks have noticeably different tastes and textures?  It is all in the process and the Artisan Beef Institute in conjunction with The Oliver Ranch Company, which offers a home Artisan Steak Tasting kit, makes it possible to learn about the ‘why’ and to purchase beef from ranches practicing environmentally sustainable practices.

Find out more at or follow her on Twitter (#meatcamp, @CarrieOliver).  Carrie Oliver, despite her many commitments and a challenging travel schedule, somehow finds time to stay connected with her fellow Artisan Beef enthusiasts through social media, email, and phone.  Your questions are welcome always and you will get a response.  If you want to have a home beef tasting or just purchase great beef online, I highly encourage it,   Spread the word about ‘environmentally sustainable’ and delicious beef.

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