The light has turned from summer's glare to fall's golden glow. The changing of the light heralds the changing of the season. September is the month of bounty, when both summer and fall produce are available together. This convergence of seasons makes September the perfect choice to celebrate as Local Food Month.
Now in its 11th year in Humboldt County, Local Food Month is billed as "a project of community members and organizations with a passion for local food and farming," the project offers the public a variety of chances to taste and appreciate the products of our county, and also to learn about the people behind them.
As in previous years, expect tasty options on the menu. Here, I'll serve up just a few morsels — for a complete list of events and relevant details, check the calendar at www.localfoodmonth.org.
Local produce and producers take center stage at farmers markets and farm stands — they're the perfect places to celebrate and we have a good number in Humboldt County. A dilemma this time of the year is how to make this season last into less bountiful times. Starting Saturday, Sept. 9, and continuing each Saturday of the month at the farmers market in Arcata, the Master Food Preservers will have a table with information about food preservation and dehydration demonstrations.
At both its Arcata and Eureka locations, the North Coast Co-op offers Eat Local inspired demos on topics ranging from eggs to honey to greens. And don't forget the traditional Eat Local Challenge, for which you can sign up at the stores or at the North Coast Growers' Association's farmers markets in Arcata, Eureka and McKinleyville. There are four levels: committed localvore, in which you strive for at least one meal a week made from only locally grown or processed foods; lifestyle localvore in which you strive for at least one meal a day made from only locally grown or processed foods; extreme localvore, pledging at least one meal per week of only locally grown food; and hardcore localvore, eating at least one meal a day of only locally grown food.
I am issuing a small challenge of my own: Try buying and preparing a new-to-you local food item or a new variety of some produce. Pick something that piques your curiosity, ask the vendor what it is and how to prepare it. Give your taste buds something new to explore and appreciate. I regularly reissue this challenge to myself and it has been great fun.
What about on-site visits? Options include a Redwood Roots Farm open house on Sunday, Sept. 10, from 1 to 4 p.m. on Jacoby Creek Road (look for the banner at the Old Arcata Road intersection) in Bayside. Both produce and flowers will be available for purchase.
On Tuesday, Sept. 6, at 5:30 p.m., the Humboldt Permaculture Guild invites the community to an educational tour of Lost Foods Native Plant Nursery (Redwood Acres, 3750 Harris St., gate #3, Eureka), where you can learn how to integrate California natives into your edible landscapes.
On Saturday, Sept. 30, from 1 to 3 p.m., Shakefork Community Farm in Carlotta (look for the sign on State Route 36) will offer a farm tour, including a garden tour, pasture walkabout and the popular oxen demo. Anyone interested in getting some of Shakefork's farm-raised meats, eggs, strawberries and veggies will be able to do some shopping.
Also on Sept. 30, you can enjoy a Taste of Willow Creek, a fall festival featuring live music, performances, vendors, silent auction, raffles and wine tasting with amuse-bouche pairings. Visit www.tasteofwillowcreek.com for details.
Here's something a bit different: The Humboldt Food Policy Council will host a Food Art Show at the Redwood Arts Association Gallery (603 F St., Eureka), featuring food-inspired paintings and drawings by over a dozen local artists. An artists' reception will be held during Arts Alive! on Saturday, Sept. 2, from 6 to 9 p.m. If you miss the reception, don't' worry — the show will be up all month so you can visit it during gallery hours, Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
And then a movie night! On Saturday, Sept. 23, from 7 to 9 p.m., enjoy a wine and cheese gala at the Minor Theater in Arcata for the movie Locally Grown: America's New Food Revolution, a 30-minute documentary that takes viewers to the frontlines of a vibrant movement in our own Humboldt County, where committed people are striving to change lives through how they grow and eat their food. Tickets are $20, with proceeds going to support Locally Delicious, Inc., a nonprofit organization engaged in education about the benefits of eating locally grown, organic food.
Simona Carini also writes about her adventures in the kitchen on her blog www.pulcetta.com.