California State Fair announces first Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition

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The California State Fair is expanding its commercial competitions for 2015 to include a competition for extra virgin olive oil. Of all the olive oil produced in the United States, California produces 99 percent of it.

Extra virgin olive oils in more than 15 different classes and divisions, including blends and flavored olive oils will be judged during the competition. The entry deadline is April 1, 2015. The California State Fair Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition is open only to California olive oil producers.

From July 10-26 the State Fair will feature a special California extra virgin olive oil exhibit with the award-winning extra virgin olive oils on display, interactive educational exhibits, free tastings and market research surveys.

On average, the world consumes approximately 2.25 million tons of olive oil each year and annual consumption in the United States has increased from 30 million gallons to nearly 70 million gallons a year over the last two decades.

Producers wishing to enter the Extra Virgin Olive Oil competition should visit CAStateFair.org to view the competition handbook for rules and entry information.

This project is supported by the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which is funded by the USDA and administered by CDFA. The goal of the project is to promote the awareness and availability of award-winning California extra virgin olive oils.

* via CDFA Planting Seeds Blog
http://plantingseedsblog.cdfa.ca.gov/wordpress/?p=7602

Farm-to-fork means new opportunities for small growers

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The farm-to-fork movement has been good to many restaurants in the Sacramento region. Easy access to locally grown food has built revenue and reputations.

But it’s not all about the fork. Some small farmers also are getting a boost, selling more products directly to consumers and restaurants.

Growing consumer interest in how food is made has created new opportunities, particularly for growers who focus on popular niche products, said Mary Kimball, executive director of the Center for Land-Based Learning in Winters.

The first folks to build connections between farms and restaurants had a lot of explaining to do, Kimball said. The farm-to-fork movement has changed all that.

“You don’t have a lot of the barriers that existed before. It’s not unusual for a farmer to sell directly to a restaurant or a store, and a lot of that is due to the farm-to-fork message,” she said.

One example is Passmore Ranch in Sloughhouse, where Michael Passmore has raised sturgeon, black bass, trout, catfish and other fish for more than a decade.

“Being a small farm, we can’t compete with the commodity market,” Passmore said. He sells mostly to high-end restaurants, offering the freshest possible products.

When Sacramento launched its first farm-to-fork celebration in 2012, Passmore was a supporter. His fish were featured prominently on both Farm-to-Fork gala dinners held on Sacramento’s Tower Bridge.

“At the time I didn’t see any benefits for us,” Passmore said. “But it has increased our business in Sacramento. It elevated the idea of using our fish and spread our reputation with restaurants and chefs.”

Read the full article here.

* via CDFA Planting Seeds Blog
http://plantingseedsblog.cdfa.ca.gov/wordpress/?p=7588