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Since the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival just started in the park, I thought I’d check out a list of the food vendors to see what kind of range of options were on offer this year. I couldn’t find a page listing them but did find, in conjunction with the potluck they just held at noon, “Coach B’s Healthy Pot Luck Guidelines.”

Is it just me or is the following, copied from the web page, a bit over the top?

Potluck Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 11

Along with Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, San Franciscans bring along foods to enjoy with their music. This is a healthy, wholesome, unique event to share amongst music lovers. This is a San Francisco communal food event that culminates all the best that SF locals have to offer.  Please join me for a potluck lunch during the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass event. For more information and location, please email Coach B at coachb@bianchifitness.com

Friday, September 30th, 2011 12:00

Coach B’s Healthy Pot Luck Guidelines

▪     BYOB utensils & plates. We do not want excessive waste.

▪     Be creative with food.

▪     Use fresh local organic ingredients to the fullest extent practical.

▪     Please refrain from bringing any food that has been genetically modified.

▪     Only seasonal foods

▪     All fruits & vegetables should be washed and are ready to be enjoyed.

▪     Please ensure that any cut or prepared food is properly refrigerated prior to potluck. Once a fruit or vegetable is cut, enzymes begin to break down the item and bacteria starts to grow. The results vary from mild toxicity to extreme food poisoning.

▪     If you are bringing fruit, we especially welcome seasonal, locally grown & organic or at least pesticide free fruit that has been picked when ripe.

▪     Citrus can provide a great alternative to vinegar in salads.

▪     No artificial sweeteners. No refined sugar or products containing sugar or derivatives.

▪     Be creative but mindful of healthy living. We all love to eat; we don’t want to wear it.

▪     Provide a clear and thorough description of the food being offered. A quick list of ingredients and what is organic and non-organic. Please note items containing nuts or seeds.

▪     Bring enough food to serve 15 or more people.

▪     Please do not bring foods needing heat.

▪     Use nothing from a box or processed. This is a culinary event.

Space is limited, so please email information about what you are going to bring.

When serving yourself at the potluck, serving size should be in proportion to the number of people present. Mindfulness is requested when sharing these gifts of food with fellow guests, overeating is considered socially inappropriate.

Be mindful of your surroundings & others. Have Fun and Enjoy the Food.

Please sign up for one of the following categories:

Sweets

Meat/Protein

Vegetables

Fruits

Now, it can be intimidating enough to bring food to a potluck in San Francisco. I know my husband was tweaking me along these lines before we attended an open house at the Devil’s Gulch Ranch (Marin Co. ) where visitors were asked to bring a dish to share. “These are foodies, you know. Are all your ingredients up to snuff?” I made the pepper salad, the recipe for which can be found on my recipes page, and no, the peppers were not labelled organic. The atmosphere there, however, was very informal and friendly and we didn’t have anyone looking my contribution up and down. But after reading the above I couldn’t imagine putting myself through the kind of stress to participate in Coach B’s event. The picture that immediately comes to mind in approaching the pot luck table is of Elaine Benes in the ‘soup nazi’ episode of Seinfeld putting her offering down and taking 3 genuflecting steps back before a-waiting the verdict of appropriateness. I also have to chuckle at the etiquette point of how much a person should take. “Your dish is not worthy. And you are taking too much of it!”

I could also poke holes in some of this list’s more strenuous demands, i.e. much food is genetically modified, technically speaking, when you consider breeding, pollination etc. And he goes on to say DO bring things that are seasonal but DO NOT bring anything with any sugar or sugar derivatives (isn’t fruit?) and to also avoid bringing pre-cut fruit. Then goes on to say citrus (not so seasonal in Bay area right now? and also a cut fruit?) is better than vinegar on salads. Micromanage if you must, but be consistent, please!

But lest I sound too hard on Coach B. his guidelines make me think about whether we really should be working on setting down some new food rules to reflect a lot our food concerns and the movement to eat better and know the pedigree of where our food is coming from. Most people seem to want something on the books that’s better than the status quo. We do need corporate Agribusiness to take our preferences seriously too – so what would it take? At some point, some Rabbis and Imams sat down and made laws around how we should eat things and what is good and bad for the health of society. Now we just take the existence of those laws (or leave them) in stride because these rules have been around for so long but at some point the Rabbis who told people no more ham and cheese sandwiches must have been pretty unpopular. And also, apropos of ‘potluck etiquette,’ there are definitely people out there who need to be told how to behave, and it is a noble effort to state some expectations for a big public event.

Why is it that we American adults really hate to be told how to behave and chafe at someone who has the foolhardiness to attempt it? Lord knows, we could do with some better behavior reminders in this town, but none of us like to be scolded as if we are children – and that goes for our children too, for that matter.  So, Coach B, bless you for trying, but next time remember that you draw more flies with honey than vinegar; and I don’t think I want to go to any potluck where well-intentioned cookies are considered to be in bad taste.

Janice

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