Bay Area Food Recovery Program Launches Partnership with Specialty Retailer

Food Shift, a nonprofit organization focused on reducing culinary waste and increasing sustainability, has partnered with San Francisco Grocer Andronico’s, to curb food waste on a grand scale. The program, which collected 1,400 pounds of food on its first day in January, drops excess produce, groceries, and even floral to St. Vincent de Paul, a local soup kitchen that also trains disadvantaged people in the culinary arts. FoodShift conducts pickups three times a week, an effort that will not only divert food waste from landfills and feed people in need but also save money through waste removal savings and tax breaks. To learn more about this innovative program, click here.

How Reducing Food Waste Could Ease Climate Change

Producing the food we throw away generates more greenhouse gases than most entire countries do. More than a third of all of the food produced on our planet never reaches a table. It’s either spoiled in transit or thrown out by consumers, who typically buy too much and toss the excess. This works out to roughly 1.3 billion tons of food, worth nearly $1 trillion at retail prices. Read more about this issue here.

TEDxNapaValley

TEDxNapaValley has announced its speaker lineup for the 2015 live conference, scheduled for Sunday, April 12, at the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater in Yountville. TED began in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment and Design. Since then, it has become even broader and the whole mission of the nonprofit foundation that owns TED is to leverage the power of good ideas and let them spread as widely and effectively as possible. The ‘x’ in ‘TEDx’ stands for “independently organized events”. One of the key speakers at this year’s TEDx Napa Valley Conference will be Eileen Gordon Chiarello, founder of Barnraiser, a community that powers the good food movement one project at a time. She and her husband, Chef and TV host Michael Chiarello, are proprietors of the sustainably-farmed Chiarello Vineyards in Napa Valley, the acclaimed Bottega & Coqueta restaurants, Emmy-winning Food Network shows and the NapaStyle brand. Each venture celebrates everyday rituals around the table, a legacy Eileen believes we must leave to future generations. Her passion for young people, story, and sustainability led her to create Dirt-to-Dine Adventure Camps for kids at Connolly Ranch before launching Barnraiser in 2014. Learn more about the conference and all of the inspiring speakers they have lined up here.

Asian Cuisines Lead Today’s Biggest Trends

The visionary folks at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Greystone in St. Helena, recognize that Asia is setting the stage for 21st-century culinary exploration and challenging today’s chefs and restaurateurs around the world to re-imagine possibilities around menu design, recipe development, and flavor discovery. Firmly grounded at the intersection of tradition and innovation, today’s chefs are using unparalleled techniques and ingredients to create delicious and imaginative dishes. The 17th Worlds of Flavor® International Conference and Festival, April 22–24, 2015, will shed new light on how a variety of Asian cuisines are evolving in both their national and international incarnations. Read more.

Upgraded kitchens, fresher food slated for Napa schools

When Napa children return to their elementary schools in August, they can expect hot meals made on the premises for the first time.

A combination of federal and school district funding is slated to pay for kitchen upgrades at six campuses, allowing a switch from warming precooked foods to preparing hot dishes on-site.

The Napa Valley Unified School District has gained $73,500 in federal grants for in-school ovens and ranges. In addition, the district board on Thursday approved a call for bids on electrical, ventilation and other improvements to support the new appliances, at an estimated cost of $300,000.

Upgraded kitchens are slated at the Bel Aire, McPherson, Shearer, Phillips and Napa Junction schools. A sixth site, Pueblo Vista Magnet School, would receive a teaching kitchen for student instruction.

Read more here.

A Unique Idea to Save Trees During the Drought

Many residents have been encouraged to reduce water use by turning off their outdoor watering systems, but this may be causing stress to established trees that are becoming increasingly thirsty for water. This article by the UC Master Gardeners Program describes a Tree Ring Irrigation Contraption (TRIC), which could enable trees to be adequately watered while being respectful of the drought conditions. Learn more.

USDA Promotes Local Food with Grant Workshops

The Agricultural Act of 2014 (Farm Bill) equipped the USDA with resources to continue to support the growth of farmers markets and local and regional food systems. In fact, last year the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), awarded over $27 million in competitive grants to expand marketing opportunities through the new Farmers Market and Local Food Marketing Promotion Program. The USDA is beginning a series of grant writing workshops with its sister agency, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Read more.