What’s a “Calivore” you might ask? It refers to a Californian who eats and drinks products produced in California. Locally. Farm to Table. Farm to Fork. That kind of thing. The term is promoted by the California Bountiful Foundation. There is also a fun TV program in California called “California Bountiful“. The show currently airs on Saturday nights. It’s sort of low budget but very interesting. The hostess visits farms and restaurants around California to showcase what they do. I always get hungry when I watch it!
Dominique and I are big supporters of consuming locally grown ingredients. It’s just so logical. Why would I buy a garlic clove grown in China when California is home to Gilroy, the garlic capital of the world? Why would I eat butter from New Zealand when California is the home of “Happy Cows” and produces lots of terrific dairy products? No offense to China or New Zealand, but is that really efficient?
To me this movement to eat more locally grown food seemed to start with the increase in farmer’s markets around California. A farmer’s market may have been the first realization for many Californians that they could cook and eat fruits and vegetables that were grown just a short truck ride away. I know it made an impression on me some 20 years back.
Another big boost in the popularity of eating local food and drink may have come from the advent of the “Craft” movement. Probably beer was the first item to ride this wave, and I was definitely hanging ten all the way! It started for me with Fat Tire, brewed by the New Belgium brewing company out of Ft Collins, CO. My sister lived in Ft Collins for many years (a great town), and I recall seeing this local brewing industry sort of blossom there during my visits. But then it started to spread. Soon I started seeing a lot of other small scale beers being made available, many of them from California. Today the little town where I live has a great local brewery, the El Segundo Brewing Co. And there are lots of other micro-breweries in LA and San Diego who make great beer.
The Craft way of doing things can now be found in local distilleries, olive oil, wine (of course, wine’s always been sort of “crafty”) and more. Restaurants have embraced the concept. There are many restaurants in California where the chefs design their entire menus around what is available locally and what is in season.
Ironically there is nothing new about this. In Europe this way of thinking has been commonplace since forever basically. When you eat a meal at a cafe in a small French town you can be pretty sure that what you’re eating came from very close by. That’s just the way things are done there. Some years back in Italy the “Slow Food” movement began. From their website: “Slow Food is an organization that promotes local food and traditional cooking”. From my perspective, slow-food and farm-to-table are one and the same. Though I suppose in Europe there may be products like Bordeaux wine, Parmesan cheese and such with have a very long and specific history, and preserving that history is important. The U.S. is a much younger country so by defacto has a shorter history in local types of food and cooking.
And if you don’t live in California, then be a Wisconsivore, or an Alabamivore, or a Coloradivore, or whatever. Try to eat and drink local. It just makes sense.