All about the good food

Chico Natty and the Saturday farmers’ market help make good food affordable; also, Ag Speed Dating!

Local buyers and growers networking at a past Ag Speed Dating event.

Local buyers and growers networking at a past Ag Speed Dating event.

PHOTO courtesy of ag speed dating

Keeping good food affordable
Readers might like to know about Chico Natural Foods Cooperative’s Economic Assistance Program, which offers a 5 percent discount on all purchases (excluding beer and wine) to qualified customers who provide proof of economic need via eligibility for one of the following programs:

• CalFresh EBT (food stamps)

• California LifeLine (discounted basic telephone service)

• IHSS (In Home Supportive Services)

• LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program)

• Medi-Cal (and Medicaid)

• Need-based student financial aid, such as FAFSA (Federal Student Aid), CSAC (California Student Aid Commission) and Pell Grant

• PG&E CARE Program

• SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Program)

• SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance)

• SSI/SSP (Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment)

• TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families)

• TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program)

• WIC (Women, Infants and Children)

Sign up for the program with any store cashier; bring proof of eligibility. To enroll online, contact the CNFC Membership Department by sending an email to Call 891-1713, ext. 125, for more info.

Also, don’t forget that the Chico Certified Farmers’ Market (open every Saturday from 7:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. at Second and Wall streets) accepts CalFresh EBT. Head over to the market manager’s table to use the “EBT machine.” Go to to learn more.

Agricultural speed dating
No, I don’t mean hurriedly fixing up Bessie the Hereford cow with Amos the Angus bull or, for that matter, even playing matchmaker for ag-immersed humans, such as farmers or dairymen and -women.

Ag Speed Dating, in its third year, is an event that aims to “connect 24 producers/growers with 12 qualified buyers in just three short hours,” as its promotional material states. “It helps stimulate business connections through face-to-face meetings and saves untold hours of trying to physically get around and visit one another.”

The list of 12 buyers at the Feb. 18 Chico event (there are two other Ag Speed Dating events, in Redding and Marysville) includes the Sierra Nevada Taproom & Restaurant, Grana, Blush Catering, Leon Bistro, Bacio Catering & Carry Out, S&S Organic Produce & Natural Foods, the Chico Natural Foods Cooperative and Farwood Bar & Grill in Orland.

Riparia Farms, Chico Fish Market and Paradise’s Noble Orchards are among the local producers/growers scheduled to attend, but there are still a number of vacant producer/grower spots (24 will be accepted in all). Participation is free, thanks to sponsorship from such businesses as The Worm Farm and ProPacific Fresh.

“Each of the 12 restaurants [and grocery stores] will be in stationary positions (at tables with identifying name plates). The 24 growers/producers will be strategically rotated to each of the buyers,” the event’s promo material says. [A] 5-minute limit is strictly enforced to make sure each grower can meet face-to-face with each of the buyers and inform them of their production and delivery and/or pick-up capabilities. They exchange cards, information and hopefully transactions will occur or a promise of future meetings arranged.”

Ag Speed Dating takes place in Chico at the Holiday Inn (685 Manzanita Court); in Redding, on Feb. 25, at the Red Lion Hotel (1830 Hilltop Drive); and in Marysville on March 4, at the Yuba County Government Center (915 Eighth St.). All events run from 9 a.m. until noon.

Call Ray Laager at 520-4742 or email him at for more info.