Farm-to-give a fork

The fifth annual Farm-to-Fork Festival is back with 75 vendors

Illustration by Mark Stivers

Big deal: Earlier this year, as you know, the city changed its nickname on the water tower bordering I-5 from “City of Trees” to “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital.” And people lost it. Perhaps because Sacramento’s trees cover many neighborhoods with the nation’s largest urban canopy, while the local food movement seems more constrained to the grid as food deserts still exist around the periphery, denying some residents a tangible connection to the slogan.

Nonetheless, starting September 8, more than two dozen restaurants will participate in this year’s Farm-to-Fork Restaurant Week, including Chinese cornerstone Frank Fat’s (806 L Street), thin-crust specialist Masullo Pizza (2711 Riverside Boulevard) and rib-sticking sandwich outpost Broderick Midtown (1820 L Street). During the 10-day-long “week,” restaurants will craft specialty menus based around local ingredients in the buildup to the fifth annual Farm-to-Fork Festival that’s free to the public when it takes over Capitol Mall on September 23.

The upcoming festival will bring together at least 75 vendors—including farmers, ranchers, restaurateurs, educators and industry heads—to showcase the “depth and breadth of Farm-to-Fork,” said Kari Miskit, director of public relations for Visit Sacramento. By gathering these disparate groups, the festival hopes to show the region’s culinary interconnectedness, detailing how our food makes the journey described by the slogan.

It’s been a big year for the local food movement’s visibility—from the opening of the new Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op to the Golden 1 Center pledging to source 90 percent of its concessions’ ingredients within a 150 mile radius under the direction of general manager Michael Tuohy, former executive chef of the award-winning Grange Restaurant & Bar, another restaurant week participant.

Although the water tower’s new look sparked fears that Sacramento was changing its core identity, Miskit stressed that the movement fits into the agricultural heritage that’s always been a part of the city. The celebration of local food culture is also a chance for Sacramento to show it’s not just a nice place to live, but also to visit for the array of newly sprouted farmers markets, local restaurants, craft breweries and coffee roasters.

“Travelers will come for food,” she said. “People are motivated by good meals. Even compared to five years ago, we have so much more to work with when we’re talking about Sacramento as a destination.”

Meanwhile, a new Grocery Outlet will become an oasis in a Del Paso Heights food desert.