Spice Mama Supperclub Reflection

This reflection comes to us today from our new intern and former volunteer, Natalia Gomez. After volunteering for our first annual StorySlam, she wanted to get more involved. This was her take on her first gathering with us. 


The Real Food Real Stories’ Supperclub featuring Sylvie, owner and founder of Spice Mama went above and beyond my expectations. This was my second time attending a RFRS event. The first event was Benefit Storyslam Salty and Sweet edition hosted at Airbnb headquarters. The storyslam had roughly 300 attendees, multiple food vendors, and several inspiring storytellers. The supperclub had about 50 attendees, one storyteller, Sylvie, who also impressively cooked the meal for the evening. My first exposure to RFRS was through the large scale event filled with several varieties of food and people, therefore, the intimacy of the supperclub was truly unique and heartwarming.

The evening gathering took place in a lovely apartment in a high rise in SoMa with beautiful views of downtown San Francisco. The open layout of the home brought everyone together in one large room, where the storytelling and food sharing occurred. I arrived an hour before the event began to lend a helping hand. I walked in and found Sylvie working hard in the kitchen. Her dishes had my mouth watering from the second I laid eyes on them. The aroma of her spices mixing in the warm kitchen made me want to take all of her sauces home with me!

There was about an hour of socializing as people arrived to the event and then after we all lined up for dinner. Each guest sat on the floor on small pillows close together. The atmosphere felt unified and people were extremely appreciative of the meal Sylvie put time and work into. After most people were finished, the storytelling began. Sylvie began by thanking everyone and then went into opening up about her family, her health history, and her business. Hearing her speak so vulnerably about her personal experiences truly inspired the entire room. She also did an excellent job at integrating food with specific parts of her story. She reflected on a specific soup that her mom made for her and it’s comforting, simple components. While she described the soup and it’s significance we distributed small cups filled with it to all the guests. This allowed us to all connect with her through listening and tasting. The storytelling finished and then an open discussion began inviting guests to ask Sylvie questions .

Once the storytelling part finished, everyone said their goodbyes and were asked to fill out feedback cards.When they submitted their cards they received one of Sylvie’s amazing cookies in return. I stayed after to help transform the space back into Peiru’s home. This was a neat opportunity to be able to have seen the event from the very start all the way until the end. I was able to hear the immediate thoughts from the hosts and Sylvie herself.

My first Supperclub experience has me already excited for the next. I’m hooked. It was such a special space with new faces sharing food and personal narratives with one another. I felt the same feelings I do when I return home for the holidays with family. RFRS does a phenomenal job at cultivating a warm and welcoming atmosphere at both their large and small scale events. I am new to the RFRS community, but in my limited exposure I have already been fed delicious food, heard moving stories, and been enthralled to continue to get more involved.

2017 RFRS StorySlam Poster Competition

Real Food Real Stories' 1st Annual Benefit StorySlam Poster Contest!

2017 StorySlam.png

Dear food-loving artist friend,

Thank you for checking out the competition and considering to participate! As a 2-year-old non-profit dedicated to humanizing the food movement and inspire cultural and social change, we are taking a GIANT step and putting on our first fundraiser- 2017 Benefit StorySlam!  

We will curate a beautiful, immersive night for 200 attendees, celebrating the power of food stories and those growing, prepping and feeding us every single day. Your artwork will visually identify and introduce the special gathering to the world, and one day, when the organization is 20 years old, we'd be able to look back and attribute the success of the night partly to you. 

Are you the one? Would you lend your artistic talents and passion for a night of authentic storytelling and food that nourish our mind, body, and soul? 

We thank you.

Competition Parameters:

1. Only original artwork will be considered.

2. Deadline to submit artwork is June 30th, 2017. The winner will be notified no later than July 11, 2017

3. All entries must be completed and suitable for reproduction.

- .JPG, .JPEG        -  11" x 17" with a minimum resolution of 300 dpi            - RGB colorspace only

4. These words must appear as part of the poster. No overlays, please.

- Real Food Real Stories          - 1st Annual Benefit StorySlam: Salty & Sweet           - Wednesday Sept 20, 2017          - Airbnb Headquarters, SF

5. Artist may sign the work.

6. The winning entry will be the artwork judged to best capture the spirit and essence of this founding food StorySlam. Keep in mind that the poster will be most often displayed at food spaces.

7. An artist is allowed more than one entry. 

8. The winning artwork and all image reproduction rights become a property of Real Food Real Stories. 

9. The winning artist will be thanked with 2 tickets to 9/20 StorySlam and VIP reception, 2 tickets to regular RFRS gatherings and 2 copies of the poster prints.

Please submit your artwork to info@realfoodrealstories.org before June 30th. Thank you for making our StorySlam a visual story!


The Distance Between a Farmer and Us

Dear Community,

We are reaching out to ask you to share some of your time. Without your time, this story--one of the most timely, heart-felt, and real stories in our current food landscape--will go untold. 

Why do we rarely hear directly from farmers in the Central Valley? Working to coordinate farmer Efren Avalos' upcoming gathering, we've learned first-hand the challenges that have disconnected us from the land and the people that grow our food.

Efren is a loving father, immigrant, fifth-generation farmer and farm owner of Avalos Organic Farm in Hollister, CA. He worked his way from a farm worker for a large strawberry company to founding his own 16-acre farm, growing some of the most favorited zucchinis and greens for farmers' markets and restaurants.

Things changed a lot since late 2016, though. Under the current political climate and shrinking labor force (NYTimes reports here), it has been extremely difficult for Efren to find workers for his farm. In years past, he could always find workers waiting for jobs on the side of the road. These days, you can't even find a waiting shadow. Efren's sons are both leaving agriculture for brighter futures, and this means Efren is often alone on the farm, harvesting late into the night after the sun goes down.

Recently Efren called to let us know that he might not be able to make it to the 5/16 RFRS Picnic to share his story live, because Avalos Organic Farm is a 2.5-hours drive from the Berkeley farmers' market. Efren's daughter-in-law, who carpools with Efren to help at the market, cannot stay behind to pack up after the market closes at 6:30pm; she needs return to Hollister to pick up her children from the babysitter by around 9pm at the earliest.

This is what's really happening, and we calling upon you for support Efren's desire to come share his story with us. 

To make it possible for Efren's daughter-in-law to stay in Hollister and for Efren to get the help he needs, we are seeking 4 volunteers total to assist him at the farmers' market on Tuesday, May 16th, in two shifts: 12:30-3:45 and 3:15-6:30.

In exchange for extending yourself, we would like to offer a complimentary ticket to the gathering, where we can hear Efren share his personal challenges and successes through his inspiring journey.

Email Peiru HERE to volunteer !

We THANK YOU in advance.

Pei-Ru Ko + RFRS Team

2017 Community Reflection #2

Dear RFRS Community,

Monday night, we gathered for the third meeting of our book club, for both new and returning members, discussing Dan Barber's The Third Plate.

As the person who handles the logistics and curation behind RFRS storytelling gatherings, I'm typically buzzing around the room, making sure the evening is running smoothly--that cups are filled, food is hot, and the setting is ripe for conversation and connections.

During the book club, I get to put my logistics cap down and sink into deep listening and conversation, which are two of my favorite things. Our book club feels so immediately intimate, though the majority of us begin as strangers, but I leave feeling not only more connected to our food web, but to my own humanity. 

That night we also excitedly huddled around a laptop to watch the video Chef Dan sent, responding to our questions centered around the future of food. You can also watch his thoughtful message on our Facebook page

From the video:

"If we don't have an eating culture that enables [positive] ecological decisions, then it breaks down. You could be the most thoughtful and concerned farmer, but if you don't have a public that is...literally eating the right kind of rotations that prop up the right kind of farming decisions that create this healthy environment, we are cooked. The call of The Third Plate is to say, we need to learn more about what does our region produce well, and what is it about our ecological niche that makes our particular region thrives with certain grains, vegetables, and meats."

- Dan Barber

Thank you Chef Dan for challenging us to connect with our ecological surroundings and to explore the wealth of food that grows in our region.

We hope you will join our book club, always open to any and all eaters interested in discussing more about where our food comes from. 


Sophia Lorenzi, Storytelling Program Manager

"Real Food Real Stories hosts an amazing book club full of thoughtful individuals who enter the food space in diverse ways. I always look forward to gathering in the community, each time coming away with new ideas, knowledge, and personal connections." -Jessica K., returning book club member
"I always appreciate the dynamic groups that RFRS events attract and the wide range of experience and engagement in the food space.  I got a lot of interesting points of view and also a real sense of the level of concern, earnestness and also hope for what change in the food system can make for the world and ways that we might be empowered and target areas where we might be able to effect change. I left the event feeling more engaged and also felt as though I had wider lens looking towards areas where I can try to make a difference.  I'm looking forward to the next event!" -Christopher W., RFRS storyteller and new book club member
"I haven't had a lot of exposure to places like the Real Food Real Stories' Book Club, but it was incredibly inspiring to see people in the industry that are passionate about having such intellectual and meaningful conversations about what issues they see in the food industry, and what they can do to help solve them." -Kat H., new book club member
"On a blustery winter night, what better way to warm up than with a heated conversation with 12 new "foodie" friends at RFRS' Book Club at The Perennial. We gathered to discuss Dan Barber's book, but much of the evening's inspiration came from sharing our own stories and ideas while sipping cocktails and nibbling on exquisite snacks. Thanks, RFRS, for putting together an evening of great food, great people, great conversations."
-Marie B., new book club member

2017 Community Reflection #1

Dear RFRS Community,

This letter begins a new tradition for RFRS. In response to your request, we are adding more insights from the food and agriculture communities, and storytelling as a part of our communications.

We will begin by sharing stories from the field and what is happening with the RFRS organization. The goal is to keep you, as a part of our community, in the loop, and to build a practice of transparency and vulnerability. We invite you to write back with any comments, feedbacks or stories of your own. We will share honestly and candidly - like all our storytellers do at each RFRS gathering - and invite in other voices from the food chain as well. How does that sound? Let us know!

What's on our mind this January? How does living in the city disconnect us from the meaning of the rain? For some, it might get distilled into complaints about slower commute times or for others, gladness about the end of the drought. We asked our storyteller Nikiko Masumoto of Masumoto Family Farm to share with us what the recent rain has meant for her and her family's farm. 

Rain in the Central Valley means many things - it clears the air, it soaks the fields giving a deep gulp to the trees that have been parched throughout the drought. For farmers, equally as important (and possibly more important) than the rain is the snow in the neighboring Sierra Nevadas. The snow acts as its own reservoir of water, in the spring and summer as snow melts and runs down to our Valley, it fills our watershed with precious water when the temperatures rise and the plants need water the most. 

But, there are also simultaneous challenges: the rain has been accompanied by warm temperatures. As of now, we have a lower amount of "chill hours" than is ideal for the trees to sleep deeply. In the past, this has meant fewer blossoms and fewer fruit. It is alarming to think of this, our daily reality, in the backdrop of another report of the warmest year on record.

Perhaps it is better to think of the rain less as "good" or "bad," and more like an important member of our collective dance with nature. We must look in the mirror and ask, what kind of partner are we?
- Nikiko Masumoto//

Thank you Nikiko for connecting us to the greater picture and our dependence and connection with nature. 

What does the rain mean to you?

Pei-Ru Ko