Wednesday, October 26, 2011

2011-10-26 "Food Day celebrates Napa Valley farming" by MICHAL NISSENSON from "Napa Valley Register" newspaper
YOUNTVILLE — Local food enthusiasts gathered Monday at the Yountville Community Center to celebrate “Food Day” — a tribute to local food and farming.
Visitors met with local food growers, sampled local wines and tasted chef-created dishes made of local produce. The event focused on all that Napa Valley has to offer, and on the importance of expanding farming beyond wine grapes. 
“Local farming is healthier for the environment and your body. You support local farms and that supports the economy. Local farming allows youth to understand the source of their food. It comes from the ground, not from supermarkets,” said Karen Schuppert, chair of the Local Food Advisory Council.
The high value of Napa Valley wine makes growers focus mostly on raising grapes. The Local Food Advisory Council hopes to promote a change, with more land dedicated for other crops.
“It has been researched by one of our council members that tomatoes can be as lucrative as wine grapes,” Schuppert said. She would like to produce grown locally for such institutions as our schools and hospitals.
“I took out grapes to grow food. You got to eat, too,” said Barney Welsh of Forni-Brown Gardens.
Forni-Brown has been providing produce to local restaurants for three decades, but only recently started selling to the general public. They hold a plants sale once a year in April.
“Our plant sale brewed from the fine restaurants in the Napa Valley. People couldn't find what they could find at the restaurants,” Welsh said.
Participants at Food Day sampled colorful, fresh produce, including figs, peaches, apples, mini eggplants, heirloom tomatoes, round zucchinis and lettuces.
Next to scrumptious baskets of produce stood their proud growers, who teamed up with local chefs to create bite-size appetizers.
Yellow gazpacho shots and beet salad with walnuts and blue cheese welcomed visitors by the entrance. Chef Mauro Pando from Grace's Table used Big Ranch Farms produce to create these healthy, colorful dishes.
Visitors also enjoyed butternut squash bisque, pumpkin cream puffs, tomato caviar, arugula salad, bite size fish tacos and many other treats.
Presenters from community health agencies promoted healthier eating habits. Most of the visitors were local foodies, gardeners, students, members of Future Farmers of America and 4-H.
For Morgan Kiser and Hayley Davis, farming is the future. Both attend Vintage High School in Napa and are members of FFA’s Napa chapter.
Davis said FAA is encouraging her to pursue a career in agriculture. “Our population grows and there are not enough farmers. We are the ones who feed everyone. I definitely hope to see more agriculturists in our generation,” she said.
Davis would like to see more variety in the crops of Napa Valley, and Kiser agreed. “I definitely think it's important to have food farming in the valley. Napa is known for wine, but there's more than that,” Kiser said. 
Many families with younger children also attended the event, hoping to share a love for fresh food with the younger generation.
“We're interested in local food,” said Napa resident Mark Hiddleson, who came with his 8-year-old son, Drake. “It is important to me that Drake knows where food comes from. I think local farming would allow more kids to be involved on farming.”

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