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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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?