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Here are some things about living in the Bay Area that a person should contemplate in advance of moving here, and which are a good part of why I wasn't especially excited about living in this area.

People associate California with good produce. However, the population in the Bay Area is so large and urbanized that it takes just as much work to suss out good sources of good produce here as it takes in rural Texas. There are fake farmstands, for instance, which sell the same sort of stuff you'll find in grocery stores, all trucked in from the Central Valley and marked up because that's what people will pay for it. You can get nice stuff at the downtown Berkeley farmer's market, but you'll pay an arm, a leg, and maybe another leg again for it. You can get pretty good organic produce, but don't expect it to be anything special beyond what's grown in California's Central Valley for the national organic produce industry. Back to the problem of stuff that ships well but has no flavor.

Peaches. After some trial and error, I have actually found some pretty tasty peaches, which seems like a small miracle. They aren't any better than the delicious U-pick peaches in Arizona, or the delicious peaches in Washington state, and they aren't cheap. I suspect that peach quality is strongly affected by water availability and orchard watering regimes, and that these haven't been anywhere near optimal in this part of California during the drought years (ongoing). Also, like good raspberries and strawberries, good peaches don't travel well.

There's also the general fact that the East Bay, downtown Oakland excepted, is a suburb with a huge number of people packed into it. Dense suburb, I suppose. Not an oxymoron after all. As with Portland, there are a lot of people living here who wish to cling to and pursue a certain quality of life. That carries with it some good elements, like the corner where Monterey Market, Berkeley Horticulture, and the cheese shop can all hang on. The downside is that this area just wasn't built for this many people. It was built to be a sleepy suburb. So the roads are choked, the public transportation is choked, the bike path is busy, and the stores are choked. Restaurants and coffeeshops have to rely on high volumes of people to stay in business, so they're set up to get you in and out. There are a lot of restless Californians waiting in lines everywhere, and it seems like there are both Californian and Asian influences at play. From what I understand, in most Asian countries people are pretty accustomed to dealing with being packed into spaces, so there aren't as many niceties as people shove into you or past you, and there's a general feeling of impatience. At least drivers generally have to pay attention because there's so much going on on the roads. I still see a frightening level of absurd traffic maneuvers.

At least the produce from our backyard garden is phenomenal, and it's a nice, peaceful space. Suburbs still aren't my ideal, however.


( 8 remarks — Remark )
Jun. 25th, 2016 01:32 am (UTC)
Two friends, who came out, visited for a week, then went back to sell their San Jose house and move here, said a lot of the same things. They were particularly nonplussed by how hard it was to find good produce, but the population density increase over the last 15 years was one of the things they talked about a lot.
Jun. 28th, 2016 05:07 am (UTC)
The area just isn't handling the growth all that well. There are a lot of cultural and socioeconomic clashes as a result, and a lot of evidence of increasing homelessness and poverty. Complex problems to address.
Jun. 28th, 2016 05:27 am (UTC)
We seem to have an increasing problem with income disparity, as a function of pre-existing economic and educational disparity, and a fair bit of luck or lack thereof. I dunno. I'm increasingly pessimistic about the future.
Jun. 25th, 2016 09:50 pm (UTC)
Have you tried connecting with some gleaning/harvesting organizations? http://www.villageharvest.org/harvestingdirectory
Jun. 28th, 2016 05:08 am (UTC)
I had tried checking fallenfruit.org, but it wasn't much help. Thanks for sending this one along!
Jun. 27th, 2016 10:27 pm (UTC)
I miss Washington peaches. So perfect. So sweet. All Washington fruit really.
I have to go to France for really perfect stone fruit.
Jun. 28th, 2016 05:11 am (UTC)
Overall, the fruit here is fine.

I think it will just never impress me as much as certain wonderful Washington experiences, like the woman running the small organic farm outside of Joyce who had more raspberries than she could handle. Peaches are inextricably tied to the Thorpe fruit stand for me because we used to stop there for a case or two of peaches on our way back from visiting family in Spokane, and then our mom would can them with a honey syrup. I could never fathom why other kids at camp thought that the canned fruit was worth eating because my baseline was those peach halves in honey.
Jun. 28th, 2016 06:40 pm (UTC)
If it makes you all feel any better, I had a totally mediocre Washington donut peach from a Seattle farmer's market this morning. :) The apricots purchased from the same operation were divine however.
( 8 remarks — Remark )

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