Farm to Fork in Sacramento

When I moved back to Sacramento in 2002, one of the aspects of life here in NorCal that struck me was the abundance of produce all over. I’m talking about trees dripping with pears that hang over farm fences and onto the small Delta highways, persimmon and cherry trees hugging the roads leading to the small towns around Sacramento.

Farm to Fork Sacramento

My favorite fall fruit: fuyu persimmons

Highway 80, which connects Sacramento and San Francisco, passes through an agricultural hub, with orchard after orchard of almonds and walnuts, fields of sunflowers, and countless peach trees visible as you whiz past at 75 mph. Just today we marveled at the perfect rows of olive trees planted just last year as we drove down I-5. I guess the region is focusing more on olive oil these days…

But it’s not just the fruit, vegetables, nuts, and wine grapes produced by big farmers. It’s also the fruit trees to be found on the city’s walking paths and in the thriving gardens of ordinary people. Bags of produce are shared during the seasons, like figs in the fall and oranges in the winter. Of course, we have loved picking baskets of fruit like this in our own backyard.

Farm to Fork in Sacramento

Just last week I came to work to find two huge bags of freshly picked squashes (4 varieties), peppers, and tomatoes from a colleague’s garden. Roadside stands like this one allow passersby to pick up the bounty of small farmers and pay on the honor system.

Farm to Fork food in Northern California

Here in Sacramento, all your food can (and should) be local: besides the fruits, nuts, and veggies that are grown right around here, humanely-raised meat and eggs, artisan cheeses, excellent wine and craft beer, and fresh fish from the coast are available. It’s no surprise that the chefs of Sacramento’s continuously improving food scene seize upon the opportunity to use ingredients from farms in the Sacramento area and just further afield in places like nearby Yolo County. The result is food that pops with flavor from super-fresh ingredients as well as food that you can feel good about because local means sustainable.

Farm to Fork Sacramento

The first local apricots and cherries of the season at Red Rabbit

Fortunately, Sacramento saw the opportunity to promote its position in the middle of California’s food production and its resulting love of farm-to-fork food. This week the city’s inaugural Farm to Fork Week is being held, with events all week that bring greater awareness to Sacramento’s role as a leader in the local food movement. Special dinners highlighting the use of local, seasonal ingredients are taking place almost daily; a wine and cheese event that I wish I could attend is happening on Wednesday, and a festival will wrap up the week this coming Saturday. Learn more at http://farmtoforkcapital.com/

If you come to Sacramento, check out some of my favorite restaurants that serve farm-to-fork food:

Magpie Cafe

Farm to Fork in Sacramento

My favorite place to meet friends for a relaxed lunch…this cozy establishment on a trendy street in Midtown Sacramento serves a small but delicious menu of sandwiches and salads plus baked goods and fun ice-cream sandwiches (when was the last time you ordered one of those?!). More about Magpie here.

Red Rabbit

Farm to Fork in Sacramento

Unique takes on global food with a huge emphasis on local ingredients = my favorite food discovery in Sacramento in 2013. Find out more about Red Rabbit here.

Cafe Bernardo

Farm to Fork in Sacramento

I like Cafe Bernardo for its no nonsense food, great variety, casual atmosphere, and long-standing use of local ingredients– its famous egg dishes include only eggs from a local farm that delivers the eggs less than two days after being laid. Read my highlight on AFAR.com here.

Biba

Farm to Fork in Sacramento

Traditional Italian food from the Bologna area based on homemade pastas and fresh, local ingredients…need I say more? Find out more here.

What is happening where you are with the local food movement? Which of these restaurants would you like to try when you come to Sacramento?

More? Try Quality Travel: Making Responsible Food Choices and 30 Things to Do in Northern California

11 Comments

  • Murissa says:

    Magpie Cafe and Biba are two restaurants that look like they are right up my alley!

    I sometimes take it for granted how great our Okanagan produce is but then I travel to other areas of Canada and see other Farmers’ Markets advertising famous Okanagan produce (I can take one look at the fruit and can tell it isn’t true but also isn’t the point of a Farmers’ Market to support your local farmer?).
    Anyways, every summer/fall I am so grateful for where I live and how huge farm to table is here. This summer was especially exciting in that regard with the Feast of Fields event which celebrated local farmers, chefs and wineries at a farm, the Okanagan Food and Wine Film Fest also featured all local wineries, breweries, coffee, and restaurants.
    Every popular restaurant in town boasts about their dedication to their local farmers and wineries. It’s a great place to live.
    Murissa recently posted..Okanagan Food & Wine Film FestMy Profile

  • That’s very cool to have such a great local food scene there. Some places are slower than others to embrace the local food movement. It looks like it’s so natural and easy to embrace in Sacramento.
    Lance | Trips By Lance recently posted..Ready to Explore Albuquerque CultureMy Profile

    • Jenna says:

      It is so easy because this area is such a huge producer of food, not just for here, but also for the entire U.S.

  • I remember buying fresh strawberries from a roadside stand in Sonoma… Fresh food and produce in California is one of my favorite things about the state, and it’s wonderful that you have such a great local restaurant scene in Sacramento. I’d probably check out the place with the ice cream sandwiches…
    Pola (@jettingaround) recently posted..Bridge jumping (puenting) in Baños, EcuadorMy Profile

  • I need to make a foodie trip to Sacramento! From the mushroom ravioli at Biba to the fuyu persimmons, your food photos have incredible allure, Jenna.
    Lesley Peterson recently posted..A stroll in the treetops, Kew Gardens, LondonMy Profile

  • 3onthego says:

    That dish at Biba is calling my name. Great photos — especially love the one of those gorgeous raspberries.
    3onthego recently posted..Cheat Sheet: The Very Best of IstriaMy Profile

  • Kayla K says:

    Hi Jenna! Love reading your blog and seeing all your amazing pictures. I keep reading because we both have a special interest in wine. This post made me want to tell you about http://www.heringerestates.com, it’s a local winery that’s “grape to glass” so to speak. More so what’s really cool about them is that they are the only local winery that frequents farmers markets! I was just there this morning. Just thought I’d pass that along since you post about wine and then today about local farms. Take care! Thanks for writing.

    • Jenna says:

      Hi Kayla!
      Thanks for connecting. I will come visit the winery soon. Clarksburg is not far from where I live!

  • charu says:

    Love the fact that farm to fork is everywhere!
    charu recently posted..Reducing the Cycle of Poverty: Wheels of Change in NamibiaMy Profile

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