Archive for the ‘Northern Colorado Food Incubator’ tag
Meandering through the farmer’s market on a lazy Saturday morning this past week, I stumbled upon a rare and always exciting find: peaches. Early in the summer they are difficult to find, so by August I had almost forgotten about them. But to see something again that you know is so good-in this case juicy and perfectly ripe peaches- you begin to wonder how you ever lived without it. I bought a ton of them, exclaiming their greatness to everyone around me as I paid, and continued on my way with a delightful snack in hand. As I continued to look around, I noticed many foods that I haven’t seen at the markets lately. The new abundance of squash, beets, and other new produce could only mean one thing- the harvest season has begun.
To many of us, autumn means school or breaking out our winter jackets, but there is a long tradition of harvest all around the world that we might not often think about. For example, in ancient Israel special offerings were made at Temples three times a year: first when seeds were planted, then when farmers reaped the first crops, and finally when the harvest was in full swing. Who knew that holidays such as Passover had some association with the harvest season? And while it seems logical to think of the sun when we think of crops (the sun does help produce grow, after all), long standing Chinese traditions rejoice in the harvest moon instead. Harvest moon celebrations occur in mid-August, when the moon is said to be at its brightest, for it is s symbol of abundance. There are so many different ways to think about the harvest season. How do we celebrate harvest in our own community, here in Fort Collins?
We are certainly fortunate in this city, where fresh produce is farmed nearby and delicious peaches are available as soon as they are picked. But the idea of harvest seems to go way beyond food. A great example of this is a Fort Collins based company called the Northern Colorado Food Incubator. The name suggests something very technical, and also very food-centered. However, browsing their website, I surprised at all the Food Incubator does for our community. They are dedicated to a “Living Economy,” which means that they “support independent community- and land-based businesses and advocate for a whole, resilient community and bio-region.” This mission statement says little about farmers specifically, but rather emphasizes encouraging independent and entrepreneurial local endeavors. I was also excited to see how much of their website was dedicated to local events and community building projects. I found out about that Lyric Cinema Cafe, a local independent movie theatre, is showing a series of films that highlight food and sustainability, and that author and food activist Gary Nabhan will be giving a free lecture at the Lincoln Center next week. In supporting local food-bases businesses, the Northern Colorado Food Incubator helps boost the Fort Collins economy, while at the same time engaging the public in fun and interesting ways. What first appeared to be a food-only business is actually affecting the entire community.
The Northern Colorado Food Incubator shows us what an impact the harvest has on our lives here in Fort Collins. When you think about it, this is true for all cultures as well. The offerings at harvest time, or the celebration of the wondrous moon, are all activities that bring people together.
So as the harvest season comes to our city, think about how our community celebrates and what that celebration really means to you. At Beet Street, we want to help commemorate not just the harvest but its effects on Fort Collins. Beginning September 25th, Beet Street is bringing Homegrown Fort Collins to our community. Homegrown Fort Collins celebrates the harvest season and its contribution to community and local culture. Beet Street will be featuring events ranging from Downtown Tasting Tours, to VIP chef’s tours of the local farmers’ markets, to cooking competitions and demos (all using local produce). Bringing people together is a cornerstone of the Fort Collins lifestyle. Enjoying good food with friends and family while engaging in the unique elements of our community is one of the things that make living in northern Colorado so special.
We live through our food in many, many ways. Our homes and societies are sustained by the hearths in our lives and in the most recent Economist, a report from the American Association of the Advancement of Societies suggests that cooking and humanity are coeval. Dr Wrangham, an anthropologist at Harvard University claims that cooking and other forms of preparing food are actually humanity’s “killer app” — the evolutionary change that underpins most others because cooking makes food easier to digest which means we burn less energy eating.
As someone who has run a bistro and worked in its kitchens, I have a profound respect for all those who work there, creating works of art to nourish us. I still remember the endless taste experiments I endured as our chef would conjure up daily specials based on whatever he had left in the kitchen. I still cook one of his recipes now for my family and it is a firm favorite. When I do, I think of him. He is remembered in his food.
Food, in its “natural” state, profoundly connects us to people and also to place. The French have a term for this – terroir — which means ‘soil’ but also expresses a combination of all factors that have an impact on the taste of food — the geological composition of the soil, micro climatic conditions, and planting and growing methods. In France, you should be able to taste a place in its food and wine. Here in Northern Colorado we are blessed with a particular terrain and climate able to support us nutritionally. With farmers markets from the spring through to the fall, the Local Living Economy folks encouraging us to get out and support all those who grow food from our land here for us to eat and now the Northern Colorado Food Incubator supporting small, family, organic farms, restaurants and food artistes, we are blessed with a community aiming for local health for all.
Over the next 2 weeks our community is celebrating humanity’s killer app, as demonstrated by 25 downtown restaurant artists in the annual Great Plates extravaganza. For $18.68 (Fort Collins was established in 1868 hence the price!), these restaurants offer a dinner special which celebrates the authenticity, quality and diversity of our community. Click here for a full program with each restaurant’s specials. Remember to leave your change to be collected for the Food Bank for Larimer County so that other community members can eat as well! They can provide a meal for a member of our community for as little as 25 cents. A $10 donation will provide 40 meals for our community!
So in celebration of plates and place, break bread with someone and in so doing, celebrate community!