(Trip Recap) Taste: Unearthing the Art and Science of Food

Spent the morning on a tomato farm learning the ins and outs. #TASTE14 #Campbells @bestfoodfacts

Last month I had the pleasure of being invited on the inaugural blogger press trip hosted by Best Food Facts and the Center for Food Integrity. During our three days in the Sacramento area of California we explored the science and technology of food production, learning from agricultural experts, scientists and farmers.

#Taste14

We started our tour at the family-owned K&J Orchards in Winters, California where we all caught the agriculture bug. Ripe fruit picked fresh from the tree? Yes, please!

On the farm they grow a wide variety of fruit, all of which is hand picked when ripe and goes straight to the consumer. Known for their quality produce and best practices, they are popular at local farmers markets and sell to restaurants like The French Laundry.

Just strolling through an orchard in Sacramento. Those are pomegranates, y'all! @kjorchards #TASTE14

The next morning we were shuttled bright and early to Napa Valley where we began our day with a tour of Black Stallion Winery. We learned about the winemaking process and sampled several varieties. The fact that I was in Napa drinking fine wine before noon on a Wednesday was not lost on me. This job does have its perks!

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After we got our fill of good wine and good food (at fabulous Redd Wood in Yountville), we headed to University of California at Davis campus to meet with specialists at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Sciences. There we learned about honey, olive oil and wine research.

I appreciated how at every step along our food journey, we had food and science experts alongside us, at our disposal. They answered every question and weren’t afraid to get down and dirty with tough issues like GMOs and pesticides.

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On our last day we embarked on “The Amazing Tomato Trek” where we followed Campbell’s tomatoes from a family-owned farm to a local processing plant where they became either tomato paste or diced tomatoes for Campbell’s products.

I was surprisingly impressed with Campbell’s. Their products start with delicious tomatoes (I tried them!) and their high standards and ethical business practices create loyal and happy employees.

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And all too soon, the trip was done and it was time to head home!

What I learned:

Our whole trip was focused on accurate and balanced information. The Center for Food Integrity is a third-party non-profit, so there was no big corporate agenda, and no politics. Just food and where it comes from.

Our expert companion Carolyn O’Neil says it best: The more you know, the more you can eat.” A lot of fear and mistrust exists in our food system today. And while there are certainly issues that deserve to be discussed, it’s not all doom and gloom. Don’t believe everything you hear from the media. Find out where your food comes from, and get to know your farmer. 

After talking and learning directly from the scientists who try to make our food the best it can be and the farmers who grow it, I have a lot more confidence in the food choices that are available to my family.

A few links I’ve found enlightening:

What are pesticides? Do they harm kids?

What are the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 and what do these lists mean?

Are fruits and vegetables sprayed with pesticides less safe than organic produce?

Is organic food better for you than non-organic food?

Are GMOs safe?

#Taste2014

My lovely companions for the trip— Christina of Dessert for Two, Courtney of Neighbor Food, Adriana of Adriana’s Best Recipes, Heather of Basil Momma, Melanie of Melanie Makes, and Sheila of Eat 2 Gather. I also have to give a shout out to Bethany, Roxy and Carolyn with Best Food Facts. Thanks for a great trip!

Disclosure: Best Food Facts paid for all my travel expenses, but all opinions are my own, as always.