Farmer Al Talks about the Importance of Food as a Celebration

Food Day is a nationwide celebration of healthy, affordable, and sustainably produced food and a grassroots campaign for better food policies. It builds all year long and culminates on October 24.



Q: In honor of Food Day, which aspect of the Food Day celebration is most aligned with you and your passions?

A: Qualities of taste. Taste is what we are all looking for – enjoyment and pleasure of eating food. Taste is pleasure - it's the most important part. Sociability is a big issue too. We as people like to share food and enjoy each other’s company while eating. So many aspects of the food process can be social such as being with family and friends while preparing food or shopping at your local farmers’ market and interfacing with farmers. You don’t get that type of sociability when you buy food that is wrapped in plastic on a shelf. When you make connections with farmers through CSA’s, farmers’ markets (or even local grocery stores), you see how your food is born and how fresh it is. It really goes back to the personal pleasures of relationships and participation in the community. These connections have been lost in the way that America has developed its food system on transportation and affordability. We have lost sight of our personal values and support. Food Day is important to bring our awareness back on a personal and communal level to see the value that food plays.

Q: How do you celebrate with your community and your customers?

A: We celebrate by hosting picnics and food events for our CSA members and nearby school groups and nonprofits. I have a special interest in giving schoolchildren the opportunity to get involved with local food. We sponsored some picnics and farm tours like a large dinner in the orchard for Alice Waters’ nonprofit – The Edible Schoolyard Foundation. We also celebrate on a weekly basis by talking to our customers at farmers’ markets and by donating tens of thousands of pounds of fresh fruit to the Contra Costa County Food Bank.

Q: What is your vision for celebrating food in the future?

A: One of my visions for a new tradition is to have an olive picking part that would occur in November. We would have a huge potluck and feast on the farm after picking olives. I love the idea of celebrating around olives because there are century-old traditions around olives and olive oil. They play such an important role in food, family, and tradition.

Q: Where did your affinity for quality food come from?

A: I got a special appreciation for the taste of quality food from my father. He was passionate about food – shopping, cooking, and family meals. My mother did most of the cooking but my father was the one that helped build my passion for food and food quality. Both of their passions for food were manifested by way of morning pancakes and waffles. Their pleasures of food quality weren’t just apparent during breakfast. My father had his favorite places to shop and we loved going shopping with him. Later, I married a woman who had an affinity for food and taste (a pastry chef). Today, we carry on our families’ food traditions with our own kids by sitting down for evening meals and spending a lot of time around the table talking.

- Farmer Al and interviewer, Katie Gronsky


Previous Article Next Article