When it comes to featuring nutritious California-grown foods, two of the best built-in ambassadors we have are in Anaheim – Disneyland and the California Adventure park. They host millions of visitors from around the world every year, providing an excellent opportunity to showcase our state’s agriculture.
Disney embraced that this year with its 2018 Food and Wine Festival, featuring sustainably-grown California wines and California-grown asparagus, avocados, citrus, berries, greens, cucumbers, strawberries, chicken, beef and olive oil, among other foods.
The festival is an innovative way to foster agritourism in California, and Visit California has found that millions of visitors travel here because of the state’s well-deserved reputation for food and wine. Studies show that spending in the food and beverage sector amounts to 20 percent of direct tourism revenue – billions of dollars.
We know that travelers seek culinary experiences in California beyond wine tasting, from farm tours and farm-to-fork dinners, to artisan purveyors, and culinary tours, and we know they like to visit places like Napa and Sonoma, to name our most famous agritourism regions, and also places like Temecula, the Sierra Nevada foothills, the Central Coast, Lodi and the Central Valley.
Recognizing that, CDFA started working with Visit California and the California Grown marketing agreement in 2013 to produce “California: Always in Season,” a program designed to market California’s agricultural abundance and highlight the pioneering and innovative spirit of the state’s chefs, farmers and ranchers. The focus is the relationship between California farmers and their collaboration with local chefs, the diversity and abundance of specialty crops throughout the state as well as stories that demonstrate that California’s culinary pioneers are part of the fabric that makes the state an iconic destination.
The Disney Food and Wine Festival is a natural extension of that campaign, and we all hope that vacationers who experience the festival will choose to travel more widely in our food and farming regions.
I attended a California Sustainable Wine Growers Alliance/Wine Institute spotlight event connected to the festival earlier this month, and it underscored the strong value of public-private partnerships in promoting agriculture. CDFA joined with its faithful partners California Grown, Visit California and–of course–Disney in supporting this great event. It was part of ‘Down to Earth Month,’ organized by the Wine Institute to educate consumers, policy leaders, media and the wine trade on the benefits of sustainability and its widespread practice.
California is a global leader in sustainable winegrowing practices in terms of wine acreage and case production. As of November 2017, 127 wineries producing over 74 percent (211 million cases) of California’s total wine production and 1099 vineyards farming 134,000 acres (22 percent of statewide wine acreage) are “certified sustainable.”
Sustainability is the key to our future. A hungry state, nation and world are depending on it.