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Local food advocates practicing what they pitch

By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal staff writer
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It’s one thing to tell people to buy their food as close to home as possible. It’s another thing to invade the office kitchen to show a hungry bunch of coworkers what can be done when you buy local. That’s exactly what Carol Arnold, Foothills Farmers Market Association market manager, and Cindy Fake, Placer/Nevada County UC Cooperative Extension horticulture and small farms adviser, did for a bunch of Fake’s colleagues on a recent Wednesday at the DeWitt Center. About a month ago, on a staff retreat, Fake and her colleagues were challenged to take a step toward going local. “People were blown away because people were challenged with where to buy local, what to do with it,” she said. “The thing for Carol and me is, we don’t even think about it, but for people who are just getting started eating local, you’ve got to think about it. You’ve got to plan it.” Calling themselves the C and C Café jokingly, Arnold and Fake used the UC Cooperative Extension’s kitchen to prepare pork and vegetable skewers and a fresh green salad with ingredients grown in the foothills. The strawberries served for dessert, although not local — those came from Watsonville — are still carried at the Farmers’ Market. The pork came from the Coffee Pot Ranch in Sheridan, was seasoned with a marinade and skewered on rosemary, both by Newcastle’s Snow’s Citrus. Red onions and bell peppers for the veggie skewers came from For C-Sons Farm in Auburn, covered in Snow’s Citrus Court Zesty Orange Vinaigrette. The salad of romaine lettuce, Armenian cucumbers, parsley, chives, tomatoes, basil, tossed with a Snow’s Citrus Court Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette, was created with locally grown produce as well. Both women hope the recent lunch would be the first of three, with others following in August and September. They took donations to cover the cost of the food. “This is an experiment for us, if we can do it, how we can do it,” Arnold said. Once Fake’s colleagues filed into the lunchroom and settled into their seats, she began telling them about their upcoming lunch. “No way — you can do that with rosemary?” Paula Westersen asked when Fake described the pork to be served on rosemary skewers. “How fun!” Arnold said she hoped to prove how simple it can be to prepare great food with local ingredients. She made a point of showing off her knife, one of her key kitchen utensils, to prove that simple ingredients, shown some love with slicing and dicing, can become great things. “This is incredibly easy,” she said. Fake agreed. “When the food is fresh and high quality, whatever you do with it is going to turn out just fine,” she said. “I guess our idea is, we wanted to show you that you could have a tasty meal out of the DeWitt Center, only five minutes away.” Some colleagues admitted they were giving up a trip to the DeWitt Center Farmers’ Market — which runs from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. each Wednesday — to attend Fake and Arnold’s lunch. Arnold said big changes could happen when people start buying and eating local. “Anything you can do to get one meal a week makes a huge difference,” she said. “The meal we’re preparing is really simple, and this is kind of a fancy meal. I mean, kebabs, salad, strawberries — how many of you eat that for lunch?” While waiting for food to come out of the broiler, Fake grilled her colleagues about their shopping habits and if they’re attempting to eat local. “I’ve been buying fruits down here at DeWitt,” said Vicky Pantels, Nutrition BEST program representative. “I’ve been making a point to only buy my fruit at the farmers’ market.” Why come to the local lunch? “It just seemed like a great opportunity to experience the local foods,” Pantels said. Amy Netemeyer said she thought it would be a good experience. “Cindy eats this way every day, so it’s nice to see her side,” she said. The Journal’s Loryll Nicolaisen can be reached at lorylln@goldcountrymedia.com, or comment online at Auburnjournal.com.