It’s different here. #Ventura

I think it is great that there is a growing interest in agricultural issues in this country. Sure, there are some opinions out there I don’t share. There are some people who just seem to like to stir the pot… fine. But what does bother me… a bit… is that here in one of the greatest agricultural spots on the planet, what we do here is so poorly understood.

No matter how many books by Michael Pollan or Mark Bittman a food issues enthusiast has read, they haven’t heard much about Ventura County. We don’t grow corn, soybeans, or wheat. We don’t have large-scale dairy or feedlot operations. We don’t raise any GMO crops. I don’t believe there is a single combine in the county. So whatever your opinions on those crops, and whatever your beliefs about that type of farming, what you’ve read offers no insight into Ventura County… one of the top farm counties in the country. If Ventura were a state, it would be ahead of half the other states in terms of farm output.

An agricultural area that important sharing a county with 800,000 neighbors who understand little about it is a bad situation for farmer and neighbor alike. That’s why I’m glad to have a few new opportunities to add my little bit to bridging this divide.

I was very pleased to be asked to be an adviser for Edible Ojai and Ventura County. I’ve respected and enjoyed this magazine for a while, and the chance to help tell the farmer’s story on their pages is a welcome opportunity.

I’m also working with a network of farmers, restauranteurs, brewers, winemakers, bakers, coffee roasters, and chefs to help raise the profile of Ventura’s food and beverage scene. We produce some of the world’s greatest food… not enough people know to enjoy it at the source. (This group has no name as yet, but you will hear about it here when it does.)

This summer will see a summit event on Ventura County agriculture. Exact dates and location will be announced soon, and I’ll have more to say about it then. But I expect it will be a great chance to reach an audience. Some dinner and tasting events are planned, just in case people find it more compelling to relate to food on a plate, rather than a powerpoint. I know I do.

And lastly, I’m working on another book. I may borrow a few favorite essays from this blog, but the message will be the same as the one that opened this piece: We live in an exceptional and wonderful place, populated with creative and skilled farmers who produce food like no other place on earth.

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