Last year, the Idaho legislature passed a resolution in support of Idaho Grown Food. In response, the Treasure Valley Food Coalition dreamed up a grass-roots, year-long project called “2011: The Year of Idaho Food”—which I’ve written about recently in the Boise Weekly—and started working on ways to encourage individuals and organizations to put together their own activities acknowledging and celebrating Idaho food.
To that end, the Treasure Valley Food Coalition hosted one of the first official Year of Idaho Food events on January 10 at the Cathedral of the Rockies. Called “An Idaho Lunch: Food for Thought,” the combination lunch and brainstorming session included input from restaurant owners, chefs, farmers and representatives from local and state agencies that are involved, directly or indirectly, in food production.
While eating locally grown food prepared by area restaurants Locavore, Bar Gernika, Cafe Vicino, Red Feather and the Modern, participants talked over ways to strengthen Idaho’s food system. After lunch, the various groups shared their ideas. Here are a few of those fledgling ideas:
Organize school field trips to local farms so children can see where their food comes from.
Promote school gardens to not only provide food for school lunches but as subjects for life science curriculum, home economics classes and more.
Plan neighborhood potlucks where community members discuss local food issues over dishes prepared from their own gardens.
Look into the increased water and energy demands created by urban agriculture and educate urban farmers and gardeners on more effective and efficient ways to use irrigation and energy systems.
Reduce the bureaucratic barriers to local food by encouraging local planning agencies, cities and counties to adopt models that promote the production of local food.
Create a local food rating system for restaurants that assures customers that a restaurant is committed to sourcing and working with local farms.
Make it easier for restaurants to source and utilize locally raised foods.
Arrange a progressive dinner during the height of the harvest season where four or five participating restaurants would offer local food to ticket holders, one restaurant preparing an appetizer, another a soup, and so on.
Turn courtyards or common ground at apartment complexes, especially those populated by refugees with agricultural backgrounds, into community gardens.