Where’s the rice?

Field to Vase dinnerI recently attended the Field to Vase Dinner held on the grounds of the California State Capitol in Sacramento. Not only was the event a feast for the senses, but it also allowed California’s cut flower industry to showcase its incredible array of flowers, sustainability and family run operations.

As part of the dinner, attendees  feasted on lamb produced just down the road in Rio Vista, organic roasted yellow potatoes and carrots grown by Full Belly Farm, and a desert made with California strawberries. Although I did enjoy the other carb, I would have preferred rice.

Having locally grown rice as part of the dinner would have been a perfect marriage. After all, the nearest rice field was less than 20 miles up Interstate 5 from the Capitol. You can’t get much more local than that.

Before the meal, attendees mingled, enjoyed local beer, wine, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, and were able to design their own boutineers. What better place to serve pieces of sushi made with California sushi rice varieties.

Then during the main course, rice could have been substituted for the potatoes. In keeping with the theme, it couldn’t just be a scoop of plain, white rice. It would have to be used as the main ingredient in a bit fancier side dish. But with rice’s versatility, it wouldn’t have been difficult to create a dish befitting the evening.

Field to Vase dinner

Floral table decorations at the
Field to Vase Dinner. All were
grown in California.

The event was limited to 150 attendees to maintain an intimate atmosphere, but they comprised flower producers, lawmakers, allied flower industry and ag representatives, and just flower lovers. I sat across the table from the family that grew the lamb in Rio Vista. Next to them were the Relles family, second- and third-generation flower shop owners in Sacramento.

Having a rice producer or two there to explain the industry’s sustainability program and how producers of both flowers and the grain have similar goals would have been complementary.

The evening’s theme, “field to vase,” is the flower industry’s take on farm to fork. The take-home message was to ask for and buy California-grown flowers or at least buy American-grown flowers because they are fresher, support local family farmers and are sustainable.

Doesn’t that sound familiar?

After dinner and a few words from the designer responsible for the table decorations, attendees filled their goody bag with clamshells of California strawberries and grabbed the floral table decorations and bouquets of California-grown flowers to take with them.

A bag of California rice would have completed the ensemble.