During my time at Santa Clara University as a grad student working on my MBA, I had never heard about the Food and Agribusiness Institute until I competed for them in Atlanta. Had I known, I would have surely studied this discipline since it's so interesting. The FAI program plans food field trips for its students and I was able to attend one such event even though I'm an alumni.
The point of this field trip was to learn about local food start ups and about sustainability practices used by Bay Area food businesses. We started in San Francisco, at Smitten Ice Cream.
Smitten gained popularity for it's ice cream made from liquid nitrogen. Founder Robyn Sue Fisher originally wheeled her liquid nitrogen tank and ice cream around on a red Radio Flyer cart. Now Smitten has grown to two popular locations, one in San Francisco and another in Los Altos. The San Francisco location we visited is run out of a repurposed shipping container. Extra sustainability points!
I had the sour, slightly tart and tasty rhubarb crisp flavor. Smitten chooses only local and organic ingredients that make the most business sense for their products. This means they choose organic ingredients if it tastes the best in their ice cream. They do blind taste tests on ingredients from several local food purveyors before including one into their ice cream.
Our next stop was San Francisco favorite small batch chocolatiers, Dandelion Chocolates.
Our guide demonstrated how the staff at Dandelion checks the quality of their bean shipments by hand, removing impurities from the batch before processing. He even showed how a batch of beans are cut to reveal the cacao nibs inside that eventually become chocolate.
Dandelion makes all their chocolate in house in barrels like these. With such dedication like sending their employees to visit their suppliers' farms once a month, and painstakingly sorting beans by hand, it's no wonder Dandelion produces quality small batch chocolates. You can stop by for a tour any time or enjoy chocolates and drinks in their cafe.
The last stop was my favorite because who doesn't love being outdoors on a beautiful day? We toured Hidden Villa farm in Los Altos Hills. Hidden Villa teaches sustainability and social justice through various programs at the farm including tours, a Cow Wow milking demonstration, and summer camps.
This is not just any pile of dirt, it's where compost is made.
These adorable pigs are fed with food scraps from the farm and from local restaurants to help make use of food waste.
We were given free range in the garden where I picked edible flowers to make this garden burrito. I also pulled a white carrot out of the ground, washed it and ate it with the top still on. I call that farm-to-stomach, the latest improvement on sustainability.
Mustard flowers are in season. These are edible also but they mostly make a great backdrop for photos.
Thanks to Santa Clara University's Food and Agribusiness Institute for hosting this trip. I had a great time and learned about 3 very different local businesses/organizations.