Why can’t our festival food be greasy, comforting, local, and healthy?

Sure, yes, OK. We all strive to eat locally, seasonally, and therefore—healthily. But even the best of us have our weaker, baser moments, those times when something sort of gloriously unhealthy, certainly greasy, and emphatically who-cares beckons our minds and stomachs.

In fact, certain events seem honor-bound to encourage poor-choice pig-outs. Many of us calendar our stomachs and greed accordingly, knowing that today’s virtue will be rewarded in the future at an outdoor event where deep-fried candy bars are merely the smallest evil available.

With summer behind us, we think back—with just small daub of grease still on our chins—of the annual county fair as a stellar example of crazy-bad food choices.

The deep-fried “lobster” dog comes swiftly to memory. This amalgamation of some kind of possible seafood whisked through a corn-based batter and deeply, seriously, fried was last summer’s go-to Me Bad ticket. Were you unfortunate enough to actually look at the pink bits that composed the lobster dog’s interior, it’s a safe bet you never finished it. We didn’t. One bite, one look, one ugh, and into the bin it went, taking most of a $20 bill and several regrets with it while adding to the weight of food waste we normally strive to stem.

But who says that fried and crunchy comfort foods have to be unhealthy? And who says that they have to be made from
non-local ingredients?

Recently, Oren Wool, the executive director of the Annual Sustainable Enterprise Conference, convened a few folks to consider what is wrong with this picture. Why, we asked, do we regularly pay premium prices at outdoor festivals and the fair for below-average food?

We still want fun foods, but we would prefer those that are made with local, organic ingredients. And we want to be able to buy them at the county fair and other festivals in Sonoma County.

Consider the gateway icon of American culinary addiction—the hot dog—and its first cousin, the corn dog.

It’s possible to source the meats and make hot dogs in Sonoma County. As a matter of fact, some people are already doing this. But, how do we produce them in numbers large enough to satisfy the festival hordes?

That’s the challenge we’ve taken.

In tandem with Oren, we’ve put a call to action to local producers to make this happen by next year and serve it at a public event. GO LOCAL, with some of our key members, is planning to host a mash-up event featuring local brewers, farmers, and chefs. The reigning king of the event will be the perfect local hot dog. Rest assured that, consistent with the Sonoma County Food Action Plan and the direction of the Sonoma County Healthy Options program, there will be lots of local, healthy, and delicious foods at this party.

You can pig out and serve the demanding comfort food fool who dwells within without the guilt and the waste.

Sounds like fun to us. Care to join?


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