Farm Beat: Farm to Fork celebrates local, healthy foods

The church that overlooks the Modesto Certified Farmers Market will itself be a place to celebrate wholesome food next week.

The Farm to Fork event, to be held Oct. 18 at First United Methodist Church on 16th Street, will feature chefs working with local ingredients, as well as information on nutrition, food assistance programs and other topics.

State Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, is sponsoring the free gathering with several partners. It is similar to one that the lawmaker, who leads the Senate Agriculture Committee, put on in her hometown in July.

“We’re sharing a creative way to put together meals that are very healthy and take advantage of the produce that we have in this area,” Galgiani said in a video from the Stockton event.

The Modesto version will take place next to a farmers market now in its 36th year, providing a bounty from April to December. The market will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, an hour later than usual to overlap with Farm to Fork.

The event is part of a trend toward eating fruits, vegetables, meat and other foods that are produced nearby. It can cut down on hauling costs while helping farmers boost their income. The definition of “local” can vary – some say anything from the abundant state of California qualifies – but the goal is healthy bodies and healthy economies.

Galgiani noted that many people live in “food deserts,” without easy access to fruits and vegetables. Farm to Fork builds on other efforts, such as the subscriber-based produce deliveries in west Modesto and a summer farmers market held on the east side through the new Stanislaus Grown campaign.

Several farm-related organizations are participating next Saturday: the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau, Stanislaus Women for Agriculture, Stanislaus Grown, California Strawberry Commission, California Poultry Association, UC Cooperative Extension, Almond Board of California, Wood Colony 4-H, and the FFA chapters of Davis and Gregori high schools.

Also on hand will be the Second Harvest food bank network, Doctors Medical Center, Foster Farms, Fiscalini Farms, RAM Farms, Modesto City Schools, Ag Link CONNECT, and the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program.