Agriculture Shows Off at the California State Fair!

The State Fair Farm is three acres of living proof of the importance of agriculture and food production in California.

The Kitchen

‘The California State Fair is pleased to announce the newly expanded and enhanced program, “The Kitchen.” The success of this annual culinary program (formerly known as Foodstyle) has afforded the fair the opportunity to relocate it into the California Counties Building, where it will be centrally located among The Farm, Save Mart Supermarkets Wine Garden, and the Craft Brew Pub. The Kitchen will give us more room to expand the program and allow us to continue to showcase California’s Agriculture and the bounty our great state produces.State-Fair-SaveMart2013

The new “Kitchen Theatre” will continue to offer our traditional food judging events, cooking demonstrations, and chef challenges while the programming will showcase the “Farm to Fork” philosophy. Along with the three main cooking stations in the Kitchen Theatre, The Kitchen will also have a new “Do-It-Yourself” space that will offer programs such as “Make Your Own Pickles,” “5-Minute Marinades,” and many other topics of interest.

The Kitchen’s exciting exhibits will not only educate fair guests, but will entertain as well. Sacramento Area Beekeepers Association’s Kate Morton continues to be instrumental in helping us to educate the public about beekeepers and in staffing the wonderful volunteers that come out to help every year.

The Farm presented by Save Mart Supermarkets

What’s growing on at The Farm?  The Save Mart Supermarkets is taking “farm to fork” to the next level this year, relocating next to The Farm presented by Save Mart Supermarket to create a completely immersive experience, not to be missed. Guests can go to Save Mart’s California Kitchen (featuring the SMUD Energy Efficient Kitchen Theatre with Official Partner California Family Fitness) and get a Save Mart Supermarkets recipe passport and learn about more than 70 crops grown in California. Taste local culinary delights prepared by chefs at our outdoor kitchen grill.

Epic Chef Battles

Food Network junkies will enjoy watching as firefighters, postal workers, 4-H youth, rising stars from cooking schools and others go head-to-head in timed cooking competitions with surprise ingredients. Don’t miss local pros as they defend their street-cred in the Professional Chef Challenge. And this year, check out our men in uniform as they face-off for a Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) Cooking Challenge.

Get Your Grill On
Just outside The Kitchen is The Grill, a shady outdoor demonstration kitchen that brings the fork right to the farm. Here, you can pick up techniques for your own backyard culinary adventures.

Bragging Rights
Our panel of highly esteemed judges has a tough job to do, tasting their way through the state’s best homemade cookies, pies, preserves, sauces and more. Watch the judging events live – but try not to drool!

In The Raw
Sample California’s finest and freshest produce at the In The Raw Taste Center, featuring personal appearances by farmers, suppliers and Save Mart Supermarkets experts.  This experience is sure to have you looking at food in new way. 

Blue-Ribbon Secrets
Learn the recipes for top fair entries as home chefs demonstrate how to make their prize-winning treats.

Fermentation Sensation
The Home Brew and Home Wine exhibits will introduce fair-goers to the time-honored tradition of home-crafted libations. Get tips on how to taste wine; hone your nose with interactive sensory experiences; and experience innovative technologies and demonstrations on brewing beer.

Food With A View
This demonstration counter allows you to get up-close-and-personal with California’s culinary experts. Gain inspiration for your own kitchen learning about dehydrated foods, gourmet waffle making, one-pot meals, decorative food carving and more.

A Taste Of The East
The Little Saigon Cooking Series invites chefs from the famed Sacramento neighborhood to demonstrate Asian recipes and cooking techniques.

Learn about fish farming by visiting our aquaculture and aquaponics displays. Check out water-efficient gardens sponsored by the Department of Water Resources. Get gardening tips from our Master Gardeners booth. For even more fun, go inside our greenhouse to learn about orchids and careers in horticulture. Step back in time at our blacksmith booth. See what’s buzzing at the insect pavilion. Visit Urban Farming to learn about backyard and container gardening. Then let the kids race off to Kids Pedal Tractor Pull for some good family fun!

Don’t forget the Commercial Wine Competition, Cheese Competition and Commercial Craft Brew Competition, plus the Winery-of-the-Day partners.

Want to plan your day at the fair down to the last deep-fried Twinkie? There’s an online tool for that.

Make an account on the California State Fair website, advises the Sacramento Bee, and browse through each day’s events, exhibits and special activities. Add items to a schedule you can import to your phone’s iCal or Google Calendar for easy reference at the fair. You can also search all activities in a certain category, such as animals or entertainment, to figure out when and where your fair favorites are being offered. Though the program is not available for download, the tool is mobile-compatible, so you can access the site on your phone anywhere you go.

Farm-to-Fork – It’s Weights and Measures Week

From Kristin Macey, Director, CDFA Division of Measurement Standards

With the “Farm to Fork” concept getting more and more attention, it’s worth noting that it’s essential to maintain the integrity of commerce as food products move from farm to fork.

In observing National Weights and Measures week (March 1-7), CDFA’s Division of Measurement Standards (DMS) protects both businesses and consumers in commerce by ensuring fair competition and accurate value comparisons.

DMS works closely with county sealers of weights and measures, who carry out the vast majority of weights and measures inspection activities at the local level.

At the beginning of the farm-to-fork journey, farmers and ranchers purchase the materials they need to produce their harvest.

Accordingly, weights and measures officials are busy reviewing labels and testing feed, seed, fertilizer, plastic pipe, lumber, herbicides, etc. to make sure these production inputs measure up to their stated net weight, measure, or count.

When commodities are transported from the farm, it is important to both buyer and seller that products are being weighed or measured accurately.

This is one reason why DMS licenses weighmasters providing independent assurance that scales are not doctored and that the weights recorded are accurate. Weighmaster certificates validating scales are legal documents used as the basis to buy or sell commodities.

Today, more than $80 billion a year changes hands in California’s economy based on weighmaster certificates.

Foods complete the farm-to-fork trip via retail grocery outlets, or through community supported agriculture or certified farmers markets.

All along this leg of the journey, packaged products are subject to inspection to verify that labeling is truthful and the net content statements are accurate.

All scales used by grocers or at farmers markets are routinely inspected, tested, and sealed by county inspectors, so consumers can have confidence they’re getting their money’s worth.

There are over 300 state and county employees who perform this type of work in California.  They are largely unseen, but the fruits of their labors are everywhere.