Volunteer of the Month: Sina McGriff

July 4, 2012

sites/default/files/img_2032a-1.jpgCUESA’s Volunteer of the Month program recognizes the dedication and work of some of our most active volunteers. CUESA relies on volunteers to help with education programs, special events, public outreach, and other activities that help fulfill CUESA’s mission. Learn more about volunteering and sign up here.

Sina McGriff started volunteering with us back in April, and she has quickly proved her dedication at the Saturday Market to Table culinary programs. Over the last couple months, her calm and consistent presence has made her someone CUESA staff can always count on. Last Saturday, she filled in for CUESA’s market chef, Elianna Friedman, at the cooking demo, providing on-site support for our guest chef. She is also a trained outreach volunteer and will be representing CUESA at events in the future. “Sina is reliable, enthusiastic, and devoted to CUESA’s mission,” says Elianna.

CUESA: What do you do when you aren’t volunteering at the market?

Sina: Outside of the market, you can find me running on trails and exploring the odd wild corners of San Francisco’s parks. I’ve recently begun training for my first marathon, which I’m using as an opportunity to explore the unfamiliar parts of the city and its outskirts. It’s also a wonderful way to spot urban wildlife: coyotes, red-shouldered hawks, lizards, and more. I am also a falconer, and though city life is not very conducive to the practice of falconry, I try to live vicariously through other Bay Area falconers as much as possible. When I’m indoors, I’m probably reading!

CUESA: Where does your interest in food come from?

Sina: I have always been keenly interested in wildlife biology and the ecological relationships between species and their food, but for a long time I didn’t question the peculiarities of industrialized food systems. College coursework in nutrition, anthropology, and evolutionary psychology prompted me to reexamine food systems in an ecological, historical, and sociocultural context. I also grew up in a town where fresh eggs came from across the street and the neighbor’s horses would sneak hay from our barn, so moving away provided a stark contrast that begged for interpretation.

CUESA: What made you want to volunteer for CUESA?

Sina: I work near the Ferry Building and was already a regular at the Tuesday and Thursday markets, so I naturally wanted to learn more. I appreciate CUESA’s dedication to educational activities beyond the farmers market, including farm tours, lectures, and classes. These days I’m a regular at the Market to Table demos on Saturday. I also appreciate the sense of community fostered at the farmers market, which reminds me of the general store in my small hometown. Finally, like many volunteers, I was beguiled by the promise of Blue Bottle Coffee! sites/default/files/255434_10150867987090633_1695269603_n.jpg

CUESA: Do you have any interesting stories from your time as a CUESA volunteer?

Sina: I loved the Stone Fruit Tour of Bella Viva Orchards and CandyCot Fruit Company. It was an incredible opportunity to see first-hand all the hard work and innovation that goes into the fruit filling our baskets at the market. It was also a day for lively conversation with new friends over a picnic lunch in the shade. I hope to attend the Crops and Kraut farm tour coming up later this month!

CUESA: Do you have a recipe to share?

Sina: Despite being a culinary volunteer, I am a bit kitchen-shy! Assisting market chef Elianna in the CUESA kitchen is expanding my horizons, but nevertheless, I usually gravitate toward simple, humble dishes. I don’t know that I have a recipe per se, but lately I’ve really enjoyed pastured eggs from Rolling Oaks Ranch prepared with new potatoes, onions, and various peppers from Happy Quail Farms, then topped with jalapeño raw goat milk cheese from Bodega & Yerba Santa. There’s a lot of room for variation, creativity, and (for the novice cook like me) error.

CUESA: What’s your favorite thing to make in the kitchen?

Sina: Seafood is my perennial favorite. Lately I’ve been cooking a lot of locally-caught king salmon, which is so delicious it needs no adornment. I’m always curious to see what H & H Fresh Fish and Shogun Fish Company have at the Saturday market!

CUESA: Do you have any insider market tips for this month?

Sina: Definitely try the padrón peppers at Happy Quail Farms (at the market on Tuesdays and Saturdays). We served some as appetizers at last Saturday’s Market to Table demo with James Stolich and they were a big hit! The honey yogurt from Saint Benoit Creamery is also especially flavorful and creamy.

Top photo by CUESA Volunteer Barry Jan.

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