By Meghan Phillips, Trish Kelly, and David Shabazian | Farm-to-Fork Steering Committee Members
We hear these words a lot with the statement that Sacramento is America’s Farm to Fork capital. And in the words of Patrick Mulvaney, “So what if it’s marketing, it’s f*&ing brilliant.”
Here are some incredible facts about why the Sacramento region can raise this flag proudly:
- 7.2 Billion Dollars of Economic Impact1
- 37,000 Jobs2
- 135,000 men, women and children per month are fed fresh food from the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services and its network of 224 food distribution partner agencies3
- 1,200 kids per week taught that vegetables are amazing by Food Literacy Center4
- UC Davis is first in the nation for agriculture and second globally for agricultural sciences5
- For every $1 spent on food, only $0.15 goes to a farmer, but there is a huge opportunity for another $0.45-$0.75 to be captured if we have more farm to fork businesses that aggregate, process, and distribute that food right here.6
- Sacramento Valley rice fields provide unparalleled wildlife habitat to nearly 230 wildlife species7
America’s Farm-to-Fork capital is a place where it’s possible to feed ourselves and others around the world. Where we can grow more than 120 crops annually and where we have the ability to increase the diversity, yield, and value of our agriculture and food products which then increases the value of our land, the return to our farmers, the market opportunities for food entrepreneurs, the access to fresh healthy food, and the region’s status as a global agriculture and food leader.
We live in one of only six Mediterranean climates in the world which are the best places to grow food. While we can grow an abundance of food, nearly 98% of that food never lands on plates in our region because we’re growing food for the entire nation.
If every consumer shifted 1% of their purchases to local sources, they would create 20,000 tons of new demand for local food. (1 ton food/person/year X 1% X 2 million people). That is food that creates more value in our region simply by keeping and consuming it here.
That increased demand includes institutions like schools and hospitals—major purchasers of food that drive distribution systems to support locally grown and prepared foods. Why should our kids in school eat apples from Washington state when we grow delicious apples in the Delta and in Apple Hill?
A strong local food system can help improve food access to both urban and rural food deserts, it can become a civic amenity and a source of pride that attracts companies to our region. Small-knit distribution networks can reduce the impact of trucking food out of and into our region and can create opportunities for small-scale or minority-run farms and food entrepreneurs.
Yes, there are inequities in the food system today; farm to fork can’t solve all of them. But it’s a marketing platform to support local food that creates jobs and educates consumers. This marketing platform can better connect us to our heritage and our future, and it enables us to appreciate that we live in one of the few places in the world where a basic necessity for life is relatively plentiful and easy to produce.
Take a minute to think about what’s on your fork and what it actually represents. You are farm to fork; the question is, which farms are you going to support?
We have a region and people dedicated to our agriculture industry. We personally see the countless volunteer hours so many folks put in to raise awareness about the incredible bounty and quality of our agriculture.
Farm-to-Fork enables and encourages consumers to interact with the processes and people that make it possible for this abundance of food to arrive on our plates, in our markets, and at our restaurants. Again, feeding ourselves out of our own backyard generates 37,000 jobs and produces such an abundance that the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services feeds 135,000 people per month. Ultimately Farm-to-Fork is about consumer choice, and along the way, it nurtures and reinforces a healthy food-system that feeds a nation.
By valuing and promoting our Farm-to-Fork roots as a region, jobs are created, health outcomes improve, and economic potential grows.
We are proud and passionate to raise this flag. We are proud of the friends, colleagues, and farmers we have met who are working hard to feed our community and the world delicious, healthy food.
So, We Are Farm to Fork.
To celebrate this week, visit farmtofork.com.
Trish Kelly is the Managing Director of Valley Vision and Board Member of AgStart
David Shabazian Program Manager for the Rural-Urban Connections Strategy, Board Chair for the Center for Land-Based Learning, and Board Member for the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services
Meghan Phillips is the owner of Honey Agency and Board Secretary for Food Literacy Center
We are Farm to Fork Logo design by Honey Agency for Visit Sacramento but for use by all.
- USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Pacific Region-California. USDA California Agricultural Statistics. 2012. PDF. ↩︎
- State of California — Labor and Workforce Development Agency — Employment Development Department – California Agricultural Bulletin 2013-2014 ↩︎
- Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services 2017 Fact Sheet ↩︎
- Food Literacy Center – 2016 Annual Report ↩︎
- UC Davis – Academic Rankings ↩︎
- Moretti, Enrico. “Local Multipliers.” The American Economic Review, vol. 100, no. 2, 2010, pp. 373–377. JSTOR, JSTOR ↩︎
- Calrice – Wildlife ↩︎