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Occupy the Pantry!

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Long Live the DIY Revolution. Photo by Wendy Goodfriend
Occupy Oakland General Strike on November 2, 2011. Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

Have you moved your money yet? A lot of imperatives have come out of the Occupy movement of late; this one is both concrete and far-ranging, something that anyone can do.

What does it mean? It started with a call to action for people to pull their money and investments out of the big banks, and put them into smaller, locally-owned and locally-responsible credit unions and community banks. It's like voting; the amount in my tiny checking and savings accounts means nothing to MegaBankUSA, but add my numbers to thousands and thousands of others, and suddenly a bank could feel some impact.

That's just one part. Like the concept of eating locally, which started with food miles and then grew into a much larger movement, even revolution, about how and what we eat, the idea of "moving your money" can be applied in so many ways.


And it's not limited to how or where you spend your actual cash. On the style blog Ironing Board Collective, my friend, writer and health coach Sara Seinberg, has posted a great Move Your Money gift guide, with suggestions for everything from art-museum memberships to shared activities and bartered services. Her list, and the fact that right now, like so many of us, I am luckily rich in friends, family, and good intentions, and not-so-rich in disposable income, have got me thinking even more about value this time of year. About surplus. About what we use to get what we need, and how we can support the needs of others--friends, family, your community, your neighborhood and beyond. This holiday season, what do you have that can bring delight and deliciousness to those you love, while keeping your money out of the coffers of the big corporations?

How about chocolate? There are lots of locally-made chocolate treats available to sweeten your holidays. Or you can make your own with this easy chocolate truffle recipe. Dandelion's bean-to-bar chocolate store will be opening in San Francisco next month or early next year; until then, find them at local farmers' markets, including the Mission Community Market and the Noe Valley Farmers' Market.

With the explosion of books, classes, and blogs dedicated to food preservation for fun (or profit), it's easy to spend a little time whipping up a gift batch of something, especially if you turn the simmering or brewing into an all-afternoon stir-and-gossip session. What do you like best to make? It's a little late in the season to make jam, but there's always apple butter, pear butter, slow-roasted quince paste (so tasty with cheese), Meyer lemon marmalade or tangy lemon chutney. WorkshopSF has classes in beer-making, tea-blending, cheese-making, even vintage apron sewing coming up in December; take one yourself, or take a friend along.

Does everyone rave about your ramen, your cranberry bread, your caramel apple pie? Do you want to share your mom's recipes with everyone who loves her? There are dozens of print-on-demand services that let you turn those scribbled-on recipe cards into a surprisingly chic and stylish personal cookbook. Pop-up holiday markets are also a good place to find quirkily perfect host/ess gifts made by your friends and neighbors. On Dec. 9, La Cocina is holding its 3rd Annual Gift Bazaar, featuring unique products developed in La Cocina's incubator kitchen in the Mission.

Or, depending on what you have to spare, you can give money, time, or expertise to organizations who redistribute the wealth across the Bay Area's tables. Did one (or ten) of your Facebook friends and Twitter followers post Mary Risley's hysterically practical YouTube video, Just Put the F*cking Turkey in the Oven? Now, with over 100,000 hits, let's hope she can make the follow-up, Just Give Your F*cking Leftovers to Food Runners.

Risley isn't just a cooking teacher, she's the founder of Food Runners, which moves thousands of pounds of fresh, useful leftover food from restaurants, grocery stores, and catering businesses into the kitchens of shelters, low-income senior and youth programs, and other organizations that serve the needy. Mary talks about Food Runners on this episode of Food & Wine This Week in Northern California.

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