On May 7, The Bee convened a round table of local food leaders to discuss the challenges and opportunities for increasing consumption of locally grown food.
Paul Muller is a founding partner of Full Belly Farm, a 350-acre organic farm in the Capay Valley of Yolo County. Full Belly sells its products directly to restaurants and to consumers through farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture boxes of fresh produce. www.fullbellyfarm.com.
"Farm-to-fork has captured the imagination of Sacramento. It's a wonderful thing. It's the first creative, large-scale creative food act that's happened in the region where people are actually investing in it. They're having conversation about it. It's because for many years it was small growers who pushed an idea and consumers who are on the margin who shopped at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op. That is all changing."
Kate Stille is the marketing director of Nugget Market Inc., which includes nine Nugget Markets and three outlets of Food for Less. Nugget was founded by her husband's grandfather and great- grandfather in 1926. www.nuggetmarket.com.
"Our generation has a responsibility to educate the younger generation as to the nutritional value of fresh produce and other perishable foods. I worked in a Davis farm-to-school program, as a parent volunteer for probably about 10 years. I started up one of the school gardens and I ran that when my kids were younger. It was really pretty eye-opening to see the number of students in a very well-educated community, Davis, that had really absolutely no idea where their food was coming from."
David Shabazian is a supervising senior manager for the Sacramento Area Council of Governments. He oversees SACOG's Rural Urban Connections Strategy, an effort at quantifying local agriculture and working on strategies for improving the economic vitality of local rural areas. www.sacog.org.
"For every dollar that you spend on food, only 16 cents is going to the farmer. All that other value is captured in the food system somewhere. When we think about bringing the food system back into our region and internalizing that food system here, we're talking about not only sustainability but we're talking about economics. We're talking about creating jobs and creating value in this region that we've lost over the last 20 and 30 years of processors leaving. We're trying to understand how to bring that back."
Glenda Humiston was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009 to serve as California state director, U.S. Department of Agriculture, rural development. Previously, Humiston served from 1998 to 2001 as deputy undersecretary for natural resources and the environment at USDA. www.rurdev.usda.gov/CA-StateDirector.html
"It's not simply enough to do food hubs that can facilitate small farmers getting into a farmers market. We've got to start thinking about scale and it's a real challenge. I was at the Berkeley Institute inaugural meeting yesterday and I brought it up. You would have thought I was suggesting we should run around and kill children or something. Too many of the foodies think that's evil. They think you're talking major agribusiness. It's really hard to get people to want to focus on the fact that big, big, big and little, little, little are extremes, but there's a whole lot of middle in there that we've got to start focusing on."
Patrick Mulvaney is the founder and owner of Culinary Specialists and Mulvaney's B&L. Since they opened, his restaurants and catering business have focused on seasonal, locally grown produce and products. He and his wife, Bobbin, helped start Plates Cafe, which employs and trains graduates of St. John's Shelter for Women and Children in the culinary arts and restaurant trade. www.mulvaneysbl.com.
"The Sacramento Food Bank last year had over 200,000 pounds of gleaned and grown locally sourced food, much of which they purchased, some of which they received as seconds as a way to deliver it to the underserved. They changed their delivery method to have 12 mobile food sites throughout the region so that people no longer have to walk far. If there is chard or apples or sweet potatoes available, they have recipes there to let you know how to cook that food. I think that's a great way to change and get healthy food into places where it hasn't been before."
Joanne Neft, a local food advocate, is the former agriculture marketing program director for Placer County. She helped create the Mountain Mandarin Festival and six farmers markets in Placer County. She and chef Laura Kenny are the authors of two cookbooks, "Placer County Real Food" and "The Art of Real Food." www.theartofrealfood.com.
"Eating in season is the best way for us to think about how our body is being cared for. Nature has a way of providing exactly what we need to eat when our body needs it. That's why we have citrus in the wintertime. That's why in the springtime we have all these dark greens that we need for everything to grow quickly. My hair always grows faster in the spring. If we eat in season, we're eating everything our body needs to nourish itself."
Janet Wagner, a registered nurse, is chief administrative officer of Sutter Davis Hospital. Sutter Davis sponsors the Davis Farmers Market and a "farm-to-school" program to teach young people about food production and healthy food choices. Wagner also helped start a Thursday farmers market at the hospital to serve staff and patients' families. This year, Sutter Davis received the Governor's Award for Performance Excellence from the California Council for Excellence. www.sutterdavis.org
"There are a lot of hospitals in this area, and we are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It just breaks my heart that (for patients) we are using canned foods and other things, even though we are surrounded by farmland and growers. We need to make some progress with the regulatory agencies so we can use more farm-fresh food in our facilities."
Steven Dambeck, the founder of Apollo Olive Oil, has farmed organically in Yuba County since 1980, specializing in stone fruits, grapes and olives. He is a founding member of North Yuba Grown, an effort at promoting and supporting local agriculture. www.northyubagrown.org.
"In Yuba County, we've doing what we call farm-to-fork dinners. The local city folks, there in Yuba City, they come up and they're are like, 'You grew that over there? Those are real goats?' They love that stuff, and for us it is very big. We go to different people's farms, we put out a nice square table and then we have local farmers serve a meal that is in season...What we are trying to do is have people come out to the farm, breath the air, get excited about it and then it is up to them to come back to us."