In case you haven’t heard…there’s a revolution going on! It starts in the ground, is grown to feed the earth and to nourish its inhabitants. Food. A precious yet vital source and the key to sustainable health. For some, access to food is more difficult than others. Here in the Napa Valley, we live in a climate that is temperate and suitable for planting a variety of crops. Sure, we’re known for our grapes, but there are so many possibilities for additional food production that we are just beginning to uncover…
This week I am honored to be part of The Whole Gang’s Food Revolution where 30 fellow bloggers have come together to continue the momentum Jamie Oliver has created, ‘saving our health by changing the way we eat.’ And as a matter of fact, the Napa community has answered that call by launching its first annual “Napa Local Food Forum,” which was held April 28th at the Expo Fairgrounds.
This event was the brainchild of a diverse group of people led by our Agricultural Commissioner with a common vision: to ensure our local food system is socially equitable, environmentally sensitive and economically stable, by producing more food locally and providing access to all. That means from individuals like you and me, to institutions like our hospitals and schools.
Getting there is no small task and now is when the real work begins. Through a rich network of panelists, the discussions were loaded and lively. The range of topics included:
*Enhancing Agricultural Opportunities in Napa County
*Small Scale Food Production
*Sourcing Local and Sustainable Food
*Distributing Food Locally
*Matching Local Foods to Institutions
There was an informative presentation by our County Public Health Officer who laid the groundwork on our current ‘un’healthy state of the union ; a local, seasonal lunch provided by many generous donors throughout the Bay Area, followed by a public town-hall platform where many could express their interests on how to move this agenda forward.
You might be asking how this applies to you…or better yet, how can you get involved? The challenge is open to anyone who wants to see healthier food at home, in your community. It can be as easy as planting a row of herbs, to an entire acre of tomatoes and beans. For example, I have just begun the process of replacing our lawn with planter boxes of leafy greens and root vegetables to accompany my oregano and parsley.
Here are additional ways to bring more locally grown food into your lives:
Plant an herb garden. This doesn’t require much time or space. You can use a box or several pots. And you can buy the starts at nurseries or farmers’ markets.
Buy produce in season – you’ll get maximum flavor, nutrients, and bang for your buck.
Support your local farmers – right now is the beginning of peak season at the farmers’ markets. Or join a CSA- community supported agriculture. If you don’t have the space or the time to grow your own produce, at least you’re supporting agricultural diversity and keeping transport to a minimum.
For those with land who want someone else to manage it, there a wonderful resource called Farmlink that will connect landowners with aspiring farmers.
Become part of a community garden, or start one of your own. There are many tips on how to go about it.
If you do have the inkling to reconfigure your personal landscape – check out this video by a family in Pasadena who has turned cement into a green cornucopia. They now produce much of their own food on less than 1/10th of an acre!
Let your voices be heard in schools. I think we all know how processed foods have infiltrated kids’ lunches…but it takes a village to demand fresh choices and affect change. Just look at all the comments that Jamie Oliver receives, and in return he offers recipes and other resources for healthy lunches.
If you would like more information on the Napa Local Food movement, please visit us here or leave a comment below. We are working on a permanent site, complete with additional resources and networking opportunities!
Curried Cauliflower – Serves 4
Cauliflower is in ‘bloom’ at the farmers markets and now it comes in glorious colors. They all have the same flavor and will take on whatever spices you add in cooking. I love curry for its exotic taste and its anti-inflammatory properties.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cups cauliflower florets, washed and dried
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 cup organic coconut milk
1/4 cup vegetable broth or water
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1. In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and sauté onion, garlic, and ginger for about 3 minutes. Add curry powder, cumin and sauté for an additional 3 minutes, until fragrant.
2. Add cauliflower and lime juice and stir-fry on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat, add coconut milk and broth or water, cover partially, and simmer on low heat for about 5-10 more minutes, until cauliflower is crisp-tender. Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired.
This recipe was inspired by nutritionist James Rouse.