Fire Up the Farmers Market Grill | CUESA

Ferry Plaza Farmers Market »

Sat 8am–2pm | Tue & Thu 10am–2pm | SF

Jack London Square Farmers Market »

Sun 10am–3pm | Oakland

Mission Community Market »

Thu 4pm–8pm | SF

July 02, 2017

Fire Up the Farmers Market Grill

This Fourth of July, declare your independence from factory-farmed meat, and grill yourself a burger that is better for ranchers, animals, the environment, and you.

The Better Burger Challenge, launched by Friends of the Earth and Turning Green, is inspiring home cooks, chefs, and schools to craft burgers made from less and better beef, or no meat at all. For beef burgers, that means using at least 30% less meat, sourced from farms that use regenerative and humane practices, and supplementing your patty with organic plant-based foods.         

The benefits of using sustainably sourced meat and veggies in your burger are many, from supporting local ranchers and fighting climate change to promoting animal welfare and personal health, but the results can also be delicious.

Tips for Building a Better Burger

Here are a few tips for crafting a better burger, inspired by the Better Burger Challenge.

Start with better meat. If you’re using beef in your burger, choose grass-fed, humanely raised, and organic beef from cattle raised on pasture, without antibiotics or hormones, and from ranchers using regenerative management practices that give back to the land. The money saved by using less meat can help to purchase better quality. See CUESA’s animal welfare guide for labels to look for, as well as the list of local ranchers at our farmers markets below.

Build in plant-based deliciousness. Blend your meat or veggie patties with organic vegetables such as zucchini, carrots, beets, onions, garlic, and herbs like parsley or oregano. Mushrooms are a favorite choice because they mimic the umami mouthfeel of meat, and they are also high in fiber. Tofu, brown rice and other grains, and legumes (beans, lentils, etc.) are also great to bulk up your burger while adding healthful flavor. See recipes for Better Beef Burgers and Better Veggie Burgers.

Don’t overdo grass-fed beef. Cooking grass-fed beef is different from grain-fed beef. It requires about 30% less cooking time (otherwise it tends to dry out), and is best served medium-rare. Because grass-fed is lower in fat, you may want to coat your burger in olive oil or another light oil before cooking. Find more cooking tips here.

Get creative with garnishes and condiments. Go beyond the standard ketchup, mustard, lettuce, tomato, onions, and pickles. The famers market offers a variety of vege-forward options to dress your burger: basil, arugula, spinach, avocado, roasted peppers, caramelized onions, pesto, salsa, hummus, kimchi, and kraut. Don’t miss heirloom tomatoes, hitting the farmers market soon.

Explore and experiment. See our farmers market shopping tips below, and find recipes and resources at the Better Burger Challenge. Happy grilling!

Farmers Market Proteins for the Grill

This July 4th weekend, keep it fresh, simple, and sustainable by supporting local farmers and ranchers. Visit CUESA’s Ferry Plaza Farmers Market or Jack London Square Farmers Market for all your BBQ and picnic needs, from organic stone fruit to grass-fed beef, pasture-raised chicken, and handmade sausages free of antibiotics and hormones.

For some grass-fed meat buying and grilling tips, read our interview with rancher Loren Poncia at Stemple Creek Ranch.

Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, Saturday

Devil’s Gulch Ranch has grass-fed lamb, heritage pork, and rabbit raised in Nicasio. Pork offerings include chops, spare ribs, tenderloin, shoulder roasts (low & slow BBQ), and ground (pork burgers). They also have ground lamb for lamb burgers and lamb leg roasts (low & slow BBQ), as well as smoked and fully cooked sausages (such as “hot ass,” andouille, chorizo, linguica, mild Italian, japapeno, sage, garlic, bacon and Jack cheese, German) and uncooked sausages (hot Italian, mild Italian, and breakfast).

H & H Fresh Fish Co. has fresh, locally caught wild King salmon and skin-on Monterey Bay Chilipepper Rockfish, both beautiful on the grill.

Hodo Soy Beanery has GMO-free organic tofu for kebabs and tofu veggie burgers (organic, vegan, gluten-free, and highly grillable). Check out Hodo’s recipe for tofu satay.

Massa Organics has sustainably and humanely raised heritage pork from their organic farm, including juicy pork chops and sausages. As alternatives to hot dogs, try their linguica, bratwurst, Polish, or Italian sausages on your grill. And if making hamburgers, farmer Greg Massa recommends using a half-and-half mix of pork and beef.

Mountain Ranch Organically Grown has certified organic pasture-raised chicken and other poultry from Mountain Ranch, California.

Root Down Farm has pasture-raised chicken and pork from from heritage breeds, humanely raised by first-generation farmer Dede Boies in Pescadero.

Pile on the Season’s Best Fruit and Veg

While your grill is hot, you’ll want throw on lots of peak-season fruits and vegetables from the farmers market. Here are a few delicious recipes from our local chefs, plus some fresh seasonal salads.

Grilled Little Gem Lettuces with Blue Cheese Dressing and Strawberries | Jennifer Knapp, Jennifer Knapp Catering

Whole Grilled Fava Beans | Louisa Shafia, The New Persian Kitchen

Grilled Peach, Quinoa, and Arugula Salad | Erica Holland-Toll, formerly of Prather Ranch Meat Co.

Grilled Melon Salsa | Alison Mountford, Square Meals

Grilled Corn and Arugula Salad with Smoked Tomato Vinaigrette | Joanne Weir, Copita Tequileria y Comida

Grilled Figs and Radicchio on a Rosemary Skewer with Cherry Tomato Salad | Eric Tucker, Millennium

Summer Panzanella | Alison Mountford, Square Meals

Watermelon and Tomato Salad | Chris Cosentino, Cockscomb and Boccalone

Ensaladang Talong (Filipino Eggplant Salad) | Aileen Suzara, Sariwa

Frog Hollow Farm Rainbow Salad | Anna Buss, Frog Hollow Farm

Green Beans and Figs with Hazelnut Dressing | Joyce Goldstein, Inside the California Food Revolution

For more tips, see our grilling guide.

Burger photo from Friends of the Earth. Stemple Creek Ranch ribs photo by Karen Pavone @farministasfeast.


CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is dedicated to growing thriving communities through the power and joy of local food. Learn More »