Sacramento's Farm-to-Fork week should work toward solving hunger crisis

The Yeung Farms heirlooms on my dining partner's plate won't shut up. “Hey, buddy. Tomato season is almost over. Get some!” they taunt. So, I steal a bite: stab one of the yellow-green wedges, drag it through vinegar, chomp. These beauties journeyed 11.1 miles from West Sacramento to Mulvaney's B&L in Midtown, then finally into my belly this past Saturday night. Damn delicious. Farm to fork, you gotta love it, right?

But this is Sacramento, so even when it comes to fresh produce, there's controversy.

Like so much contentiousness, maybe the drama began with the mayor and his declaration of Sacramento as the nation's “Farm-to-Fork Capital.” There's no denying that his higher-than-an-eagle speak makes even the most bullish Sacramentan groan. “Oh. Great. Another world-class yada yada.”

But this city also brims with haters. And I don't fault the mayor for his passion. Sacramento's chefs rock, and the region's bounty is unequaled.

Sadly, as Alastair Bland reports in this week's cover story (see page 16), Sacramentans don't eat much local food. And tens of thousands of poor and low-income residents never access the likes of crunchy kale or plump figs. That must change.

Maybe Farm-to-Fork week, which kicks off this Friday (see page 23 for event details), can inspire.

I also chatted with chef Patrick Mulvaney on Saturday and learned that F2F is more than just fancy dinners. It will bring a farmers market to Sacramento State University. Goodbye Panda Express, hello brain food. Students will learn the way of the watercress.

Then, maybe, farms will soon find Sacto's food deserts and underserved neighborhoods. Our embarrassment of edible riches will begin to solve this nation's embarrassing hunger crisis. It could happen.

Let's hope Farm-to-Fork week is a lift.