Meet the (food) Producers: What you see is what you get
Ken Kullack, event marketing committee vice chairman for Slow Food Park City wants people to think about all the grocery stores and restaurants, including fast-food drive-ins, that are located in all the towns, and cities in the United States, alone.
Then he wants them to ask, how do the farms in the country provide meats and vegetables to each of them?
It’s something that many people don’t think about, Kullack said during an interview with The Park Record.
"One of the hot stories in the news today is the findings of horse meat in hamburgers," he said. "Unfortunately, the reality is you don’t know what you’re buying when you get your food from other parts of the country or even other parts of the world."
This is why Kullack supports sustainably grown food produced by local farmers and artisans.
To introduce more people to these providers, Slow Food Park City is hosting its third annual Meet the Producers event at the Swaner EcoCenter, 1258 Center Dr. at Kimball Junction, on Monday, March 18, from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. Admission is free and the public is welcome.
The mission of Slow Food Park City, which is part of a grassroots movement in 150 countries that promotes environmentally friendly food production and teaches how to grow and prepare these foods, is to celebrate and promote more sustainable and local food sources, Kullack explained.
"When a lot of people think about food in Utah, they don’t realize how many great producers are growing and raising all-natural products," he said. "They are using these products and local ingredients in the foods that they make.
"Since these providers are growing vegetables and raising animals, and they don’t have a lot of time to think about marketing what they are doing," Kullack said. "That’s where Slow Foods Park City comes in. We want the public to know who these providers are."
Monday’s event will feature an array of local farmers, ranchers, bakers and other artisan food producers.
"We’re looking to have 35 to 40 producers this year, which will be five to 10 more than we had last year," Kullack said. "In fact, we had a very successful event last year. More than 250 came to the event last year, so this year we are focused on attracting more people, because it’s important for us to relay the great food producers that are in the area within Utah."
Heber Valley Artisan Cheese will return along with some of the newer producers, such as Beehive Cheeses and Gold Creek Farms, which will participate in the event for the first time, he said.
Meet the Producers
On March 18th at 6:30pm, local food producers will gather at Swaner EcoCenter to showcase their food and goods for the public during the Meet the Producers event. The purpose of the event is to connect local consumers with local food producers. The event is free and open to the public.
"Another new producer is called Edible Wilds, and they do a lot of different things," Kullack said. "They sell seeds so people can start their own vegetable and wildflower gardens."
Edible Wilds also makes a blue spruce syrup.
"This is one of the products that I’m very interested in," Kullack said. "On their ranch, they pull some of the bottom branches off of their blue spruces, which happen to be Utah’s official state tree, and grind up the wood, soak it and pull out all the sap."
The workers boil the sap down and add cane sugar.
"The result is a syrup that has an earthy, piney kind of flavor to it that you can use in cooking or to pour on pancakes," Kullack said. "These are the types of producers we want to support because they’re just starting out and doing things naturally."
The event will also feature Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) distributors such as Bell Organic Gardens from Draper, and Park City’s Copper Moose Farms.
"When people come to Meet the Producers, they can learn about CSAs," Kullack said. "They can learn how they work and find out the different ways they can purchase shares and where the pick-up points are."
CSA representatives will also give tips and introduce some different vegetables.
"We wanted them to do this so people won’t be intimidated when they see a new type of vegetable like a kohrabi, which is like a cabbage and turnip," Kullack said. "I mean, people will see a vegetable like that and not know what to do with it, but it’s all part of the fun. They’ll see a vegetable, learn about it and do some more research about how to prepare it and then they’ll ultimately enjoy it."
Another reason Slow Food is presenting Meet the Producers is to help clear up some misconceptions about local food and CSAs.
"One of the challenges the producers face is the idea that the food they sell is more expensive," Kullack said. "While it does cost a little more, the reality is that the foods are fresher and will last longer and are more nutritious for you.
"I could spend $3 for a block of cheese in a store or spend $7 for a block of cheese that is made in Kamas," he said. "The cheese from Kamas is made with local ingredients, and you know where those ingredients came from. And once it’s made, it doesn’t have to travel far from the maker to the distribution network."
That’s also true with the vegetables and meat.
"The products don’t have to travel through six or seven states to get to Utah," Kullack said. "Summit County Beef, Canyon Meadows Ranch and Morgan Valley Lamb will be at the event, and with these producers, you know you will be getting beef or lamb and not horse."
In addition, the vegetables are harvested when they need to be harvested.
"If you buy a tomato in a store, it may shock you to know that they are harvested when they are green and ripen off the vine while they are on route to distribution," he explained. "That’s something people need to understand. So, if you pay an extra 25 cents, 50 cents or $1 a pound or whatever the incremental cost is for a CSAs, you know you’re getting food that not only tastes better, but is good for you the way nature intended it to be."
Another misconception people have is that CSAs are inconvenient.
"Many people don’t realize how simple they are," Kullack said. "Granted, you have to pick up the food at a central location, but it’s usually somewhere convenient like the Swaner EcoCenter, or at No Place Like Home or another place people are familiar with. So, it’s just like driving to the grocery store.
"Also, people think that once they are committed to a CSA, they will be getting food every week whether they eat it or not," Kullack said. "That’s not true. CSAs have different options when it comes to buying shares, because no one wants you to waste food. This event will help people see what those options are.
The last issue concerning CSAs is that they only deliver in the summer.
"There are four-season CSAs that deliver all year round," Kullack said. "This program is not just a summer proposition. The way food supply and the food chain was meant to be was for people to buy foods that are local, because they are growing what is right for the area, and that means in all types of weather."
During Meet the Producers, Slow Food will hold opportunity drawings.
"Prizes will be some of these producers’ products," Kullack said. "There will also be free soup samples from three area restaurants that use local vegetables and meats served to anyone who brings a mug."
Kullack said the best thing about a Meet the Producers event is seeing the producers thrive while they give the community the opportunity to enjoy their foods.
"It’s like a circle of life," he said.
Slow Food will present Meet the Producers on Monday, March 18, from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit http://www.facebook.com/slowfoodpc or http://www.swanerecocenter.org/calendar.
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