Sacramento Sustainability Forum 2.0

SSF 2.0 is a public engagement & education platform empowering the community to create a more sustainable society.

In September and it's all about SmartFood. This month we tackle the regional food chain, and how you contribute to a sustainable food system, working to make sustainable, SmartFood Choices for a SmartSacramento.

Sacramento enjoys a vibrant group of food system organizations and food leaders that work diligently toward a SmartFood-savvy SmartCity. From small, urban farms, where young women are helping to change the face of farming and the renaissance explosion of new farm-to-fork restaurants that makes Sacramento the food capital of the world; from fresh food retailers such as Whole Foods and Raleys that emphasize sourcing from locally-grown fields and supporting locally grown farmers, to food system education programs like those delivered to more than 3,000 students every year by globally-recognized Soilborn Farms, Sustainable SmartFood is central to Sustainable Sacramento.

Sacramento is In Season! We’re all about a fully closed-loop food system, where what is grown and raised is done so sustainably – both economically and environmentally – and processed and distributed with mitigation in mind, with a “do no more harm of our environment” mantra in addition to our aggressive food system economy.

SmartFood is about how when what is consumed, is consumed efficiently and benefits all the people of our region who need its abundant sustenance. It is also about how what is grown, processed, distributed, stored, and recycled is done in sustainable ways that actually turns the clock back on carbon impacts in our community.

In September, as our region experiences its iconic Farm to Fork Festival, we also acknowledge that our rich agricultural region also still experiences hunger, which is inextricably linked to food insecurity contributed by the seemingly “impossible to end conditions” of poverty and homelessness. At the same time we are a population plagued by healthcare costs attributed to diseases associated with poor nutrition, such as obesity and heart disease. 

How can Sacramento get smarter about our food system in a way that helps us become a SmartCity, and in a way that feeds us in ways that encourages and fuels healthy, productive, sustaining citizenry?

From community gardens like the Freemont Community Garden to the fact our city enjoys the closed-loop benefits of having three organic and food waste BioDigesters that recycles our food waste and turns it into renewable natural gas that cleans the air and puts nutrients back onto farms--Sustainable Sacramento 3.0 is foodtrific!

What’s On Tap for September’s Festival?

At September’s family fun festival (new location is pending), we'll be exploring where our food comes from, where it goes, and how we can we make SmartFood choices as individuals. 

September is also "Farm to Fork" month in the Sacramento region, and we expect to be participating in local events throughout the community, including the big festival day on September 28th.  Stay tuned for details!

More About SmartFood In Sacramento

The Sacramento Regional Food System Collaborative (FSC) published a food system charter in mid-2012, which was an expanded version of the charter developed by the Sacramento Hunger Coalition in 2003. It remains a guiding framework for what we are all working towards locally as we work to increase access to healthy foods for all, to increase associated educational opportunities, and to encourage agriculture’s success at all scales, including small and mid-size farming operations.

Community and regional food systems are at the heart of our current planning efforts in Sacramento, and are fueled or led by organizations locally, which includes the Food Literacy Center, the California Institute for Agricultural Research, Valley Vision and the Sacramento Food System Collaborative, UC Davis’ Agricultural Institute, Edible Sacramento, the Greater Valley Center, the Center for Land-based Learning, the California Food System Alliance Network, the Farm to Fork University, the and even grassroots, entrepreneurial efforts that blend technology, innovation, and healthy eating education for kids such as Nicolas’ Garden.

Farm-to-Fork Capital of America 

In Sacramento, we live in the “Farm to Fork Capital of America,” and we enjoy an exceptionally robust food system and growing food culture, with access to more locally grown and raised foods than just about anyplace else in the world. We are also supported by an economy fueled by a regional cornucopia of private companies and social benefit organizations committed to a closed-loop food system.

In our region, the farm-to-fork regional movement (also including the “ to fuel” portion of that movement) is fueled by the mission to: 

“bring awareness to the Sacramento region’s local food production, consumption and sustainability as well as the contribution and exportation of sustainable products to the rest of the nation and world.” Farm to Fork, Sacramento.

SmartFood Facts

According to the Sacramento Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, 

“Sacramento is the capital city to the largest producing state of agriculture in the nation and, locally, 70 percent of the region’s land is agricultural, forest or other open space.  Additionally, the region contains 7,000 to 8,000 acres of boutique farms and provides numerous public sales platforms at more than 50 regional farmers markets, many of which are year-round fixtures.

In fact, Sacramento is home to the largest “Certified Farmers’ Market” in California and offers the most ethnically diversified market in both produce offerings and customer demographics.

Local restaurants utilize the abundance of regionally grown products to create a Farm-to-Fork freshness that’s unparalleled in this country.  While many local farms ship their products across the country — a process that can take days — regional restaurants can pick up fresh product in the morning and serve it to patrons for lunch and dinner. Aside from local restaurants, regional farmers provide products to establishments across the United States. 

Superior Farms in Dixon provides product to restaurants in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin.  Snake River Farms beef, which is raised at VanVleck Ranch in eastern Sacramento County, is distributed locally at Corti Bros. Market and nationally in San Francisco, New York, Denver, Chicago, and Los Angeles.  Silva Family Farms, located in Yuba City, ships walnuts to New Jersey, Tennessee, Washington, Philadelphia, Dubai, Turkey, China, Korea and Spain.” 

Key Questions

We also have an abundance of grocery retail and distribution companies such as Raley’s, Nugget, Save Mart, Safeway and Whole Foods. How are they sourcing their food products? How are they manufacturing and distributing them? How are they disposing of spoiled or post-processing food waste?  Are they closed-loop? Are they fully efficient and sustainable?

Food processing companies in our region (Sacramento, Placer, El Dorado, and Yolo counties) number more than 50 (within a geographic area that remains sustainable), and they include American Pasteurization, Tony’s Fine Foods, HP Hood, Morning Star, and Frito Lay. How are they sourcing their food products? How are they manufacturing and distributing them? How are they disposing of spoiled or post-processing food waste?