Going Legit, Part 6: Iso Rabins and the City on the Future of the Underground Market

Iso Rabins.

Part six of a series in which SFoodie asks the question: With the

Underground Market now shut down, what would it take for San Francisco's

aspiring food microventures to go legit?

Here's what it used to cost to sell your food at the now-defunct Underground Market: the cost of materials, the cost of paper to mock up a sign, and $50 to Forage SF, the market's organizer.

Here's a very rough estimate of what it costs to sell your food, completely on the level, at a regular farmers' market, assuming you'll need 16 hours at a commercial kitchen to prepare your first batch of legal food for sale: $1335 in permits and applications + $500 in insurance + $50 a day for the farmers' market fee + $320 in kitchen rent = $2205. And that doesn't including equipment and materials. If you're selling to a grocery store instead of customers, you could reduce your entry costs to $1295, but then you'll be selling the product at wholesale cost.

That's a massive difference.

“I could probably put on another market with all legitimate vendors from my vendor list and get them permited,” says Forage SF's Iso Rabins, “but then we'd never be able to accept people who were starting up. The Underground Market is clearly something that needs to exist — there are a lot of people whose lives are measurably different because of their participation in it.”

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