Friday, October 21, 2016

Taking a bite with America's new Farm-to-Fork Capital

You may have seen social media posts proclaiming Sacramento as America’s Farm to Fork Capital, experienced the local food movement at one of your favorite neighborhood restaurants, or even showed up to eat, drink and be merry at the now-annual Sacramento Farm-to-Fork Month celebrations every September.

But the whole idea goes back to 2012 when Josh Nelson of the Selland Family Restaurants came to the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau with an idea that we should highlight all of the incredible fresh, local food being grown and served in Sacramento. The idea took off and not long after, Mayor Kevin Johnson declared the greater Sacramento region the new Farm-to-Fork Capital of America.

No matter if you’re a serious Foodie, the most health-conscious Vegan, or just someone who loves tasty grub, there is something for everyone in America’s new gastronomical mecca. Here are 25 facts about our new designation as the Farm to Fork Capital:

1. The Sacramento region includes about 1.5 million acres of farms growing more than 120 individual crops. In fact, 70 percent of the Sacramento region’s land is agricultural, forest or other open spaces.

2.     California is the largest agricultural producer in the entire U.S., and Sacramento is the capital both for governance and food production, too.

3.     In fact, no other major metropolitan city in the U.S. enjoys such an abundance of farms, ranches and vineyards within such a close radius.

4.     Local restaurants and eateries have long used all of this freshly grown regional food, creating a Farm-to-Fork experience for patrons.

5.     Since everything is fresh and locally sourced, the menu will change with the seasons as different food is grown.

6.     Thanks to a climate that’s dry and hot in the summer but wet in the winter, Sacramento has a year-round growing season and is often compared to the growing conditions in Mediterranean countries.

7.     Aside from supplying amazing food for all of our local restaurants, Sacramento is home to more than 40 farmers markets - including the largest California Certified Farmers’ Market in the entire state.

8.     It also happens to be the most ethnically diverse farmers market in the country, both in the produce and food offered and the customer demographics.

9.     Sacramento produce and agricultural products are shipped all over the world. In fact, if you’re eating sushi anywhere in the U.S there’s a good chance the rice comes from Sacramento. Believe it or not, Japan consumes more Sacramento-grown rice than its own domestically grown rice!

10. Our City of Trees is also a world leader for domestic caviar production, with 80 percent of domestic caviar farmed right here in Sacramento before it ends up at some of the finest restaurants across the globe.

11. California also supplies 80 percent of the world’s almonds, and Blue Diamond right here in Sacramento is the largest almond grower in the world.

12. Where is Sacramento “hiding” all of these great farms? Amador County has 50 wineries, El Dorado Hills has 100 farms, ranches and wineries, Placer County has an astounding 1,200 small farms, Sutter County has more than 300,000 acres of farmland, 60 percent of Yuba County is agricultural land, and Yolo County features UC Davis as an innovator in food production science and many food distribution operations in West Sacramento. 

13. But it’s not just food that is taking off in the region, with countless award-winning local coffee houses and a seriously burgeoning beer scene. Sacramento now has more than 40 craft breweries, many of them featuring locally farmed ingredients.

14. Sacramento celebrates all of this edible excellence with an annual Farm-to-Fork Month celebration every September. For a couple of weeks, there are daily restaurant specials, farm dinners, street fairs, tastings, interactive chef experiences and a host of other great events.

15. It all wraps up with the Farm-to-Fork Festival in late September, a day where local restaurants, coffee houses, food trucks, farmers, wineries, and breweries come together to celebrate, entertain, and especially, feed, Sacramento residents.

16. Last year’s Farm-to-Fork Festival attracted over 50,000 people and its popularity is expected to grow by leaps and bounds every year as the street festival keeps expanding to more and more city blocks. This year, the final gala was held September 25 on the iconic Tower Bridge, where almost 1,000 people sat and enjoyed a meal created by Sacramento’s top farmers and chefs together.

17. But the Farm-to-Fork Monthly Celebration isn’t just about indulging one’s own pallet, but also education, awareness and responsible food practices. In fact, the September celebration included a food drive hosted by the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services. In all, more than 170,000 lbs. of fresh produce was donated to food-insecure people in Sacramento, generating 142,000 meals that fed 16,000 people for three days.

18. Even though another September has passed, there are still plenty of ways to participate in and enjoy Sacramento’s Farm-to-Fork renaissance.

19. Local Roots Food Tours offers culinary walking trips and a Market-to-Plate Executive Chefs Tour. Sac Brew Bike and Off the Chain is for those that want to pedal as they sip, there’s nonstop wine tasting at vineyards around the region, and visitors can even order off a specialty Farm-to-Fork menu and have it delivered to many area hotels.

20. Or you can just visit one of Sacramento’s many iconic restaurants year-round to sample their locally grown cuisine, like Sellands, Ella Dining Room & Bar, Mulvaney’s B&L, Waterboy, The Kitchen Restaurant, and many others!



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