Noe Valley Voice October 2003

Letters to the Editor

Real Food Company, R.I.P.?


The sudden closure of Real Food, and all it reveals about the new owners, is a travesty for Noe Valley residents and Real Food employees. Real Food had been part of the bedrock of our community.

Last year, the sale of the 24th Street store to a Utah-based company made many of us uncomfortable. The current closure for "remodeling," with no notice to customers and no notice to employees, demonstrates the damage that comes when distant corporations purchase local vendors of essential goods.

What kind of company treats people this way? Certainly not a company I want to be buying my food from.

In the next issue of the Voice, can you please list alternatives that people should consider, including any markets that have a good supply of organic produce (perhaps including Tower Market, Rainbow, local vegetable stands, farmers' markets, and the health food stand on Castro near 19th Street)?

Steve Roseman

14-year Noe Valley resident

Editor's Note: The letters that follow have more suggestions for alternative grocery outlets. Also, Voice writer Mazook, in this month's Rumors column on page 61, asks several local stores about their efforts to fill the void left by Real Food.

Feeling Betrayed


I have been living in the neighborhood for just over seven years. During this time, my wife and I shopped at the Real Food store on 24th street, sometimes as much as four to five times a week, spending $100 to $200. My favorite part of my visits was strolling through the produce section and tasting what I believed was the best produce available in the city. Sometimes I would feel energized by just feeling the freshness from the produce.

As you can imagine, we are devastated by the recent events. Not only do we feel lost and betrayed as loyal customers who have been cut off for six months without warning, but we are also disgusted by the way the new owners have treated their employees.

It's true that there is another branch in Cole Valley, but I can't bring myself to give this company any more of my money. What is a person to do?

Well, back on May 14, the San Francisco Chronicle printed an article called "Farm in a Box," about family farmers who deliver fresh fruits and vegetables to city dwellers on a weekly basis. The story, which can be found at, lists farmers' and food distributors' phone numbers, addresses, and web sites.

We are exploring this method of obtaining fresh produce and hope to be fully committed to an alternative by the time Real Food (Fresh Organics, Inc.) reopens.

James Sandler

Noe Valley resident

Try Fillmore Farmers' Market


Now that Mikeytom Market and Real Food have closed (at least for now), I'm sure that most Noe Valley residents, healthy bunch that we are, are having trouble finding good produce. I have a suggestion. It's the Fillmore Farmers' Market, which operates from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays through Nov. 22. The market is held in the parking lot at Fillmore and Eddy streets and, at two miles away, is probably the closest farmers' market to our neighborhood. It features fresh pastries and bread, flowers, live music, and, of course, a variety of produce--including organic.

The market is sponsored by the Fillmore Jazz Preservation District Promotions Office (where I am an intern) in partnership with the Pacific Coast Farmers' Market Association. The Fillmore Jazz Office also sponsors Fillmore Fridays, a free outdoor concert and cinema series. For more information, go to or call 441-6396.

Karen Babbitt

Church Street

Go to Good Life, Rainbow, and Bi-Rite


The way the new owners closed Real Food was pretty despicable. If it is true that the employees were trying to unionize, what the owners did was illegal.

If and when the store "reopens," I hope people will not let convenience guide their conscience. Shop at Good Life Grocery on Cortland. The 24-Divisadero bus stop is right in front of the store. Good Life is an independent store with a full line of groceries, produce, and meat and fish. The owner and staff are very pleasant. It is a beautiful store. They deserve support.

In addition, Bi-Rite on 18th Street is not that far away. And of course, there is always wonderful Rainbow Grocery. If Bell (Ralph's/Cala) was smart, it would seriously stock more organic produce.

My point is, there are alternatives, and Noe Valley consumers should make plans to consider them. Fresh Organics, Inc., did not consider their staff or us.

Georgia Schuttish

Duncan Street

Store Founders Partly to Blame


Regarding the outrage of the neighborhood at Nutraceutical's closing of Real Food, people's anger is somewhat misplaced. Big corporations do this: they buy up a successful business, lower the quality and raise the prices, then treat the workers, customers, and goodwill as expendable items. It's their nature.

Some of the blame should be laid on Jane and Kimball Allen, who created and nurtured Real Food, making it the unique store that it was. Then they sold out to the highest bidder. When the owner of Tower Market died, his widow had offers from, among others, Mollie Stone's. She chose to preserve the market, sold it to a longtime employee, and Tower Market remains as it always was. Too bad the Allens lacked this kind of integrity.

Carolyn Dickinson

Castro Street

The Benefits of Prop. A


On Nov. 4, the San Francisco School District will ask voters for a $295 million general obligation bond for upgrades and repairs to our city schools' aging facilities. This is a nuts-and-bolts health and safety bond that will mostly cover desperately needed plumbing, lead removal, and electrical repairs. There will also be funds for bungalow replacement at Lincoln High School, to complete the wing at O'Connell High School, to upgrade the facility at Marshall High School, to help the School of the Arts move downtown, and to fund more school garden projects.

There have been well-publicized problems with past mismanagement of our schools, but Superintendent Arlene Ackerman has not only cleaned house but has put into place strong oversight measures that will give us accountability.

Good public schools are essential to the health and vitality of our city. They are good for community and good for business. Please join with parents, civic, business, and community leaders to support Prop. A and make an investment in the future of our city--our children.

Sandra Halladey

Noe Valley resident

The Public Must Be Notified


The Planning Department and the Board of Supervisors are still working hard to railroad the housing element of the Planning Department's proposed General Plan down the residents' throats.

This ill-conceived plan, if passed, will be catastrophic for our city. It will allow increased population density, permit more units per parcel of land, and eliminate the parking space requirement. It will also allow secondary units in residential areas without requiring off-street parking, and establish procedures to legalize existing illegal units. This plan estimates an additional 34,000 residents over the next seven years. It will increase the population of San Francisco to over one million residents. We do not need a million people in the 49 square miles of this once-great city.

The main problem is that most of the residents of our city are totally unaware of what is going on. They will only know when the plan is passed, and it will be too late to voice their concerns.

I strongly urge that all residents of San Francisco be notified. The notification cost could be very little if notices are included in PG&E and garbage bills. The people have a right to know.

Harry J. Aleo

24th Street

Tragic End to a Joyful Life


It was with great sadness that I learned of the hit-and-run death of Jim Hahn [see front page, this issue]. Several friends and I walk along the Sanchez/ Church "flat route" early every weekday morning. Most mornings, we would see Jim taking his morning walk. He walked slowly but deliberately. Sometimes he would walk his son's bulldog, Henry. But eventually Henry got too slow for Jim!

Each morning, he would greet us with a positive statement about what a fine day it was, whether it was or not. We came to look forward to seeing Jim every morning. He added a simple pleasure to our lives and a daily reminder about keeping a positive attitude.

We will miss this fine gentleman and hope that those drivers who continue to run stop signs will think twice about the consequences of their actions. Many of us know that the running of stop signs in Noe Valley has become an increasingly routine practice, which has resulted in many close calls for people who regularly walk or run in the neighborhood.

Hildy Burness and friends

Just Wanted to Say Thanks


I am planning my son's eighth birthday. My son adores hotels (go figure--must be inherited from his mum), so I was seeking a place to visit outside of the Santa Barbara area, as we would have an excuse to get a room.

I initially thought that Disneyland might be fun, but as we have annual passes to Magic Mountain in the L.A. area (and after I saw the admission fees--ouch!), I thought it might be both redundant and horribly expensive.

My next thought was San Diego. This quickly evaporated. We have a pass to the local zoo. Ours can't compare to the San Diego Zoo, of course--but how can a birthday trip be unique when you go to the zoo or a similar facility at least once a month? Sea World was out, since my son's father took him to the Monterey Bay Aquarium last month.

Anyway, I was looking for an affordable weekend trip for three boys (ages 8, 5, and 2) and was feeling more than a bit frustrated. Then, an online search of "San Francisco Museums" led me to your September 1999 issue [at], which had the article [by Janis Cooke Newman] about exploring Yerba Buena Center--the bowling alley, ice skating rink, and Zeum museum. I found everything I could want to entertain my boys and myself for a weekend, and you even included the BART station!

Nothing is grossly expensive and I know all will appeal to these wild beasts! Thanks so much for the info.

Mary Bouldin

Santa Barbara, Calif.


THE VOICE welcomes your letters to the editor. Write the Noe Valley Voice, 1021 Sanchez Street, San Francisco, CA 94114. Or e-mail Please include your name, address, and phone number. (Anonymous letters will not be considered for publication.) Be aware that letters may be edited for brevity or clarity. We look forward to hearing from you.