Sacramento prides itself on local food

Photo by USDA, published under Creative Commons license.

The irony of celebrating local food in Sacramento

The Sacramento Convention and Visitor’s Bureau recently tweeted that a world record 493,977 pounds of fresh produce was collected in in the Capital City during a recent Farm-To-Fork event.

The food was donated to the Sacramento Food Bank.

Local Sacramento television carried the drive as it was getting under way.

We’ve talked about similar efforts elsewhere in California where a Fresno County fresh fruit packer donated large amounts of fresh stone fruit to food banks.

As a city, Sacramento bills itself as “America’s farm-to-fork capital.” In fact, September is farm-to-fork month.

Farm-to-fork month will culminate Sept. 24 with a large festival on the Capitol Mall, which will likely draw thousands for fun and food.

The organization’s web site bills it as “a community celebration of the pride we have in our farms and food.”

The celebration is a rich irony, given that lawmakers and regulators in the same city consistently work to destroy the very ability of California farmers to produce copious amounts of fresh, tasty fruits, vegetables and nuts. What else is one to think when lawmakers and regulators continue to find ways to take water from farmers and raise their cost of production to unprofitable levels?

I’m not criticizing the event; I think it’s a good way, as festival organizers say, to “showcase and celebrate where our food and drinks come from.” What’s the benefit though if good public policy doesn’t result from the knowledge of where food for such celebrations grows?

Food production doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The right combination of soil, climate and irrigation water that has long-blessed California with such ability however lately it is under siege by lawmakers and regulators who apparently do not believe that domestic production of agricultural goods leads to better food security.

Instead, food security and sustainability are merely talking points to be mentioned when politically convenient.

Still, it’s good to see efforts like Sacramento’s Farm-to-Fork Festival and the world-record donations to Sacramento’s Food Bank because of what it says about the generosity of farmers and their neighbors. Aside from the worthy donations to those who may not have the ability to purchase fresh produce, the event also showcases the city’s many restaurants, of which some are known to source their food from nearby farms.

None of this happens without California farms and growers. It’s highly doubtful Sacramento – or any city for that matter – would create a festival to celebrate imported produce.

Helping consumers connect the dots between the food they eat and the farms that dot the landscape near Sacramento and all over California is noble though it is not generating the kinds of votes in Sacramento and Washington D.C. that drive sustainable agricultural policy at the state and federal levels.

On the contrary, lawmakers instead seem driven to destroy domestic food production and the businesses that support it, particularly in California.

Until we correct this travesty, festivals like this will simply be something fun to do once a year until domestic food production dries up and there’s no reason for it anymore, at which point the stated goals and purpose of such events will be moot.

 

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