Today, food still marks the seasons and reaffirms a culture's identity, but as farming communities accelerates, these cultural traditions slowly erode and diminish in relevance until only faint recollections of them remain. One day they too will vanish, leaving us with endless shelves filled with the same gaudily packaged vacuum-packed treats stacked in cavernous fluroescent-lit food warehouses that line the closest freeway off-ramp. These big-box supermarkets don't sell terrior. How could they when these companies themselves have no place to call home? -- Douglas Gayeton

Food is more than what you eat. Terroir is the idea that food has specific qualitites that are influenced by a sense of place. From the people who tend to it, to the minerals in the soil in which it is grown, to the local microclimates of the area, how food is farmed influences everythign about its taste, texture, smell, and overall quality.

We explore terroir in the Know Your Food Film Series at the Full Belly Farm in Capay Valley, California, with co-owner Judith Redmond. The deep flavor at the farm comes from organic farming and soil building practices. For Judith and others, you can literally taste the hard work that goes into growing such stellar produce.

People often associate terroir with wine (and, if you do, we've got a great recipe for you from Chef Ann Cooper), but a sense of place exists in most all food and drink. Sustainable Food Trust's Patric, Holden investigates the terroir of cheese, drawing parallels between cheese and wine. Master gardener Tucker Taylor takes us on a tasty tour of California and invites you to explore terroir with your friends. Southern Foodways Alliance roots terroir in history and place: Sapelo Island, home to descendents of Western African slaves fighting to save their land.

A foods true flavor is meant to be as Perennial Plate explores on a trip to visit South African aware winning winemaker Johan Reyneke.

This week's terms


Flavor + character of produce = climate + geography + farming practice

Local Food Systems

"A local food system is not so much about how far a particular piece of food travels from producer to consumer. It is more about a community having control over the who pays for the hidden costs of our food. These costs can include the environmental impact of the production and distribution of the food as well as the health care costs associated with eating low quality food. It also includes recognizing that workers from one end of the food chain to the other are the poorest paid employees in society and the corporations that benefit from these low wages often pass along the gap between actual wages and living wages to the government in the form of ‘welfare’. A local food system creates the platform for a community to collectively and transparently decide what their ‘food priorities’ are and who should bear the burden of any inequity." - Edwin Marty

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