Perhaps you’ve noticed? The local food movement is blazing trails as one of the hottest topics on the culinary map. And that is especially apparent in Napa Valley, the agricultural paradise which we are so fortunate to call home.
As Napans, we are blessed with some of the best soil, climate and natural resources in the world. Together, our local growers, vintners, chefs and restaurateurs have earned our region the enviable reputation as a world-class food and wine mecca. And understandably, our community culture also reflects these attributes — where a higher-than-average percentage of residents exhibit elevated interest in healthy foods, sustainable principles and a wellness lifestyle. We are uniquely positioned to make a positive impact promoting locally grown food and healthful consumption in our own backyard, and these are just a few of the ways we’re getting started.
Acting on community interest garnered at the 2010 Napa Local Food Forum, the Napa Board of Supervisors took a major, progressive step forward by appointing a Local Food Advisory Council. Simply stated, this 15-member advisory council’s goal is to heighten awareness, interest and understanding for the ways we grow our food, distribute our food products and financially support our food sources in our own backyard.
Your council members are Diane Dillon, representing the board of supervisors; Kathy Arizon, city of American Canyon; Lynn Brown, city of Calistoga; Juliana Inman, city of Napa; Annette Shafer, city of St. Helena; Kara Scoggins, town of Yountville; Mark Dommen, agricultural community; Peter Jacobsen, agricultural community; Kristina Muelrath, agricultural community; Karen Schuppert, public health and nutrition; Lisa Bissell Paulson, institutions; Ted Hall, marketing or distribution of agricultural products; Michael Cromwell, community at large; Holli Scheumann, community at large; and Joanna Winter, community at large.
In addition, several Napa County department heads will serve as ex officio members of the council, including Public Health Officer Karen Smith, M.D.; Director of Conservation, Development and Planning Hillary Gitelman; Director of Environmental Management Steve Lederer; Director of the Napa County University of California Cooperative Extension Dr. Monica Cooper; and Agricultural Commissioner/Sealer Dave Whitmer.
While this council makes recommendations to the county ag commissioner and Board of Supervisors, we need to hear from you — our community.
So, how can you help? How can your passion for affordable and accessible, locally and sustainably grown food products influence your neighbors’ shopping habits? How can your efforts stimulate vital economic growth and local jobs? How can your ideas help combat hunger and poor nutrition for our children, senior citizens and disadvantaged residents? How can your actions create a more vibrant and united community among farmers and households? Here’s a call to action.
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Our Local Food Advisory Council has identified three areas of priority need for Napa County. We are now actively recruiting volunteers to serve on the following sub-committees: Education and Outreach Committee: Help design communications networks to encourage public involvement and information sharing, such as advocacy programs, printed materials, events, website, social media, etc.; Local Food Production and Distribution Committee: Help develop mutually beneficial food supply systems linking local farmers to community kitchens, markets and residents; Food Policy Committee: Help influence and communicate county rules, regulations and fees for growing, selling and/or donating food products by both home and commercial producers.
If these pique your interest, convert your ideas to action by volunteering on one of these sub-committees. There are four easy ways to learn more about the Napa Local Food Advisory Council. Attend the Advisory Council’s next meeting, Monday, July 11 from 2 to 4 p.m., in the UC Cooperative Extension meeting room, located at 1710 Soscol Ave.; visit our website at countyofnapa.org/
AgCommissioner/NLF; contact Sommer Woolley at the Agricultural Commissioner’s office, 253-4357, or by email at Sommer.Woolley@countyofnapa.
org; or “Like” us on Facebook under “Napa Local Food Forum” to keep up with current food issues and events.
In the words of sustainable food advocate and author Michael Pollan, “Shake the hand that feeds you.” The Local Food Advisory Council is looking for a few good hands.
(Schuppert is chair of the Napa Local Food Advisory Council.)