Having never visited California before, I expected what many other East Coast residents do: that the whole state was by and large the same. Another journalist covering the food festivities at the recent Sacramento Farm-To-Fork Festival, who was a Sacramento native, was all too familiar with this misplaced sentiment of his home. “Everyone expects this to be just like L.A,” he laughed. While the weather is the same, ideal growing conditions for produce and almost year round sun, the city of Sacramento is cut from a very different cloth than its sister cities. The state capital is in fact the largest agricultural producer in the nation! This begs the question: why hasn’t this place been flagged as a foodie hotspot yet?
I’m aware we are all sick of the phrase “farm-to-table” and all variations of it, but the Farm to Fork Festival really takes the movement to another level. There are over eighty vendors involved, and it gets bigger every year. And the best part? Don’t expect to see handcrafted soap vendors and art stations; this event is purely food focused. Sure there are interactive stations for kids, like the potted plant area where they teach the young folk how to plant and care for their own squash, but everything has a message rooted in food (pun intended).
One of the farmers’ markets that contributes to festivities like this (and provides a majority of the produce for surrounding restaurants), happens to be the largest California Certified farmers’ market in the state. Not a surprising fact when you find out that no major city in America is more centrally located amid such a vast range of high-quality farms, ranches, and vineyards. Sacramento’s Mediterranean climate produces some of the nation’s most diverse and high-quality crops year-round. So residents here never have to go without perfectly ripe strawberries or tomatoes. What a life! And all you almond milk drinkers can thank California for your creamy dairy-free drinks; the state supplies eighty percent of the world’s almonds, and Sacramento-based company Blue Diamond is the largest almond processor worldwide.
With this impressive resume of (yes, I’m going to say it) farm-to-table ethics, it’s a wonder how Sacramento has been cast in the shadow of cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco. While there is plenty that these sunny cities offer, Sacramento is a secret that not many seem to know about yet. If you’re not interested in farming your own food, I recommend taking a trip to Sacramento. This is the freshest food you can find without having to buy an acre of land and fertilizing your own avocados.