What: Cool Davis Festival, featuring interactive exhibits, entertainment and information on how to reduce your carbon footprint
When: 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12
Where: Central Park, Fourth and C streets
Getting there: Ride your bike, walk or take the bus; Unitrans is offering free rides all day
By Anya McCann and Lynne Nittler
Our “foodprint” is a significant part of our total carbon footprint. At the Cool Davis Festival on Saturday, Oct. 12, in Central Park, visitors can watch two intriguing demonstrations, sample olive oil and honey as they ask questions of the experts from UC Davis, and check out solar cooking options with Solar Cookers International.
Low carbon eats on a limited budget
Low carbon on a low budget? How can we keep our food budget down while combating climate change and staying healthy? Chef Sal Gagliano will create tasty, inexpensive meals that also lower our carbon footprint, offering samples from 10 to 11:15 a.m.
Gagliano, known for his enthusiasm as well as his cuisine, is head chef at Tercero Dining Commons at UC Davis and owner of cookingpartys.com. As a student coordinator from the Sustainability and Nutrition Office of Dining Services, he knows the need for sticking to a budget. He also will cater his demonstration to small households who need assistance with scaling the quantities of their cooking so as not to be wasteful.
“Cooking can be simple with a variety of flavors from fruits and vegetables grown at home or nearby,” Gagliano says. “This demonstration will use local produce grown using ecologically sound practices, as well as sustainable proteins. They can taste great while having a much lower impact on the planet.”
Ben Thomas, sustainability manager at UCD Dining Services, explains, “As a leader in providing healthy, well-balanced meals to the campus community and an enriched educational environment that fosters a balance of mind, body and soul, we have developed an integrated sustainable food systems program in each of the campus dining commons, University Catering and several retail operations.”
Gagliano volunteered to support the goals of the festival: “At UC Davis, we take advantage of our campus and locally grown produce. Through this demonstration, we hope to highlight the glory of local ingredients.”
The unplugged kitchen
Chef Debra Chase of Pheasant Hollow Farm believes in simplicity above all. In her passion to make vegetarian cuisine more exciting, sustainable and planet-friendly, she knows that well-prepared food made from honest ingredients speaks for itself.
For this year’s festival, Chase will bring tips for the unplugged kitchen as her way of helping everyone lower their carbon foodprint. She’ll be on the patio in Central Park from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
“What’s the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?” she asks.
“Thoreau said that and he was right, of course,” Chase says. “Not too many generations ago, every person that cooked his or her own food knew how to use a hand grater or a food mill or a mortar and pestle. Simple, common kitchen tools have been replaced with the electric food processor, the electric blender and the electric spice grinder.
“Did you know that you can grind coffee in a mortar and pestle or make a smoothie with a food mill? If we can get back to a simpler form of cooking, it will mean using less electricity and less water, and eating locally.”
Many of Chase’s clients are surprised to find out that it actually takes less time to use hand-powered tools like a good knife, a food mill or a hand grater, instead of an expensive electric appliance. There’s far less clean up, too.
Olive oil questions answered here
If you are a bit bewildered about which olive oil to choose, bring your questions to the festival and consult the expert, Dan Flynn, between 10 a.m. and noon.
Flynn is the executive director of the UC Davis Olive Center and is intimately familiar with California’s olive industry.
“The UC Davis Olive Center seeks to do for olives what UC Davis did for wine,” he says. “We conduct research and offer education in partnership with California olive growers and processors so that consumers receive high-quality table olives and olive oil. The center is self-funded and the only one of its kind in the world.”
Flynn will offer tastes of UCD and other locally grown oils at the festival as he discusses the variety of flavors, the difference between grades and how to select the best products.
Flynn mentions the similar missions of the center and Cool Davis.
“We wanted to highlight the great olive products that are produced locally and also help people assess quality,” he says. “The best olive oil is the freshest, and the freshest olive oil is produced locally and sustainably.”
Amina Harris, executive director of the Honey and Pollination Center at UC Davis, also will have a table at the festival offering tastings of several honeys. She’ll be happy to answer questions about bees, pollinators and honey, from 10 a.m. to noon.
Cooking with the sun
Finally, look for a sunny patch with solar ovens and meet Julie Green, the executive director of Solar Cookers International, a Sacramento-based nonprofit with the motto, “harnessing the sun to benefit people and the environment.” She’ll offer solar oven demonstrations and answer questions from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.