This story is cross-posted from the Davis Enterprise on October 1, 2013. It was written by Anya McCann

Our food print is a significant part of our total carbon footprint. At the October 12th festival, visitors can watch two intriguing demonstrations, sample olive oil and honey as they ask questions of the experts from UC Davis, and check out solar cooking options with Solar Cookers International.

Low Carbon Eats on a Limited Budget
Low carbon on a low budget? How can we keep our food budget downwhile combating climate change and staying healthy?Chef Sal Gagliano will create tasty, inexpensive meals that also lower our carbon footprint, offering samples from 10-11:15 a.m.

Chef Gagliano, known for his enthusiasm as well as his fantastic cuisine, is Head Chef of Tercero Dining Commons at UC Davis and owner of As a student coordinator from the Sustainability and Nutrition Office of Dining Services, he knows the need for sticking to a budget. He will also cater his demonstration to small households who need assistance with scaling the quantities of their cooking so as not to be wasteful.

“Cooking can be simple with a variety of flavors from fruits and vegetables grown at home or nearby. This demonstration will use local produce grown using ecologically sound practices, as well as sustainable proteins. They can taste great while having a much lower impact on the planet.”

We hope to highlight the glory of local ingredients.

Ben Thomas, Sustainability Manager at UC Davis Dining Services explains, “As a leader in providing healthy, well-balanced meals to the campus community and an enriched educational environment that fosters a balance of mind, body, and soul, we have developed an integrated sustainable food systems program in each of the campus dining commons, University Catering and several retail operations.” The campus is doing its part to cool Davis!

Chef Gagliano volunteered to support the goals of the Festival. “At UC Davis, we take advantage of our campus and locally grown produce. Through this demonstration, we hope to highlight the glory of local ingredients.”

Chef Debra has 30 years of experience with climate-friendly cooking.
Chef Debra has 30 years of experience with climate-friendly cooking.

The Unplugged Kitchen
Chef Debra Chase of Pheasant Hollow Farm believes in simplicity above all. In her passion to make vegetarian cuisine more exciting, sustainable, and planet-friendly, she knows that well-prepared food made from honest ingredients speaks for itself.

For this year’s festival, Debra brings us tips for the Unplugged Kitchen as her way of helping us lower our carbon foodprint.  She’ll give her demonstration on the patio from 11:30a.m. to 12:45 p.m.

“What’s the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?”

“Thoreau said that and he was right of course,” says Debra. “Not too many generations ago, every person that cooked his or her own food knew how to use a hand grater or a food mill or a mortar and pestle. Simple, common kitchen tools have been replaced with the electric food processor, the electric blender, and the electric spice grinder. Did you know that you can grind coffee in a mortar and pestle or make a smoothie with a food mill? If we can get back to a simpler form of cooking, it will mean using less electricity and less water, and eating locally.”

 If we can get back to a simpler form of cooking, it will mean using less electricity and less water, and eating locally.

Many of Debra’s clients love learning how to cook; however, they are very surprised to find out that it actually takes less time to use hand-powered tools like a good knife, a food mill or a hand grater, instead of an expensive electric appliance. There’s far less clean up, too!

Debra will pass out Farmers Market fruit to sample with various spices, just to get some fresh ideas. She has promised a page of delicious uncooked recipes for the season, too!

Dan Flynn heads the UC Davis Olive Center.
Dan Flynn heads the UC Davis Olive Center.

Olive Oil Questions Answered Here
If you are a bit bewildered which olive oil to choose, bring your questions to the festival and consult the expert, Dan Flynn, between 10:00 a.m. and noon.

Flynn is the Executive Director of the UC Davis Olive Center and is intimately familiar with California’s olive industry. According to Flynn “The UC Davis Olive Center seeks to do for olives what UC Davis did for wine. We conduct research and offer education in partnership with California olive growers and processors so that consumers receive high-quality table olives and olive oil. The center is self-funded and the only one of its kind in the world.”

In California, we are lucky because we can get a large number of olive oils from California, including very local farms – making the purchase from a local farmer the sustainable choice. Nearly all olive oils in California, according to Etters, are actually “Extra Virgin,” so buying local is a more reliable product choice.

Flynn will be conducting tastes of UC Davis and other locally grown oils on the patio as he discusses the variety of flavors, the difference between grades, how to select the best products, and responds to questions.

Flynn mentions the similar missions of the Center and Cool Davis.

The best olive oil is the freshest, and the freshest olive oil is produced locally and sustainably.”

“We wanted to highlight the great olive products that are produced locally and also help people assess quality.” Festival participants can help reduce their carbon footprint and live more sustainably with local products. Flynn agrees, “The best olive oil is the freshest, and the freshest olive oil is produced locally and sustainably.”

Honey tasting
Amina Harris, the Executive Director of the Honey and Pollination Center, will also have a table on the patio with tasting of several honeys and a line of pollinator cards on display.   She’ll be happy to answer questions about bees, pollinators, and honey from 10:00 a.m. to noon.

Cooking with the Sun
Finally, look for a sunny patch with solar ovens and meet Julie Green, the Executive Director of Solar Cookers International, a Sacramento-based non-profit with the motto, “harnessing the sun to benefit people and the environment.”   She’ll offer solar oven demonstrations and  answer questions from 8:00 a.m. to 1 p.m.