By Elizabeth Vaughan, CHIP Food Systems Coordinator

Community Health Improvement Partners held their 3rd Annual Brew Rendezvous on May 17, 2015 at SILO in Makers Quarter.  Brew Rendezvous celebrates the unique role of local growers, craft brewers and restaurateurs in cultivating community and health.

While attendees got plenty face-to-face interaction with participating restaurants and breweries, what they may not have known is that much of the produce in their dishes that day was supplied direct from over a dozen San Diego County farms! CHIP staff and volunteers fanned out across the county earlier in the week to pick up farm fresh produce from Connelly Gardens, Dassi Family Farms, Eben-Haezer’s Happy Hens, Eden Tropics, Go Green Agriculture, Home Town Farms, Mountain Meadow Mushrooms, IMG_0815Point Loma Farms, Rancho J’Baile, Sage Mountain Farm, Sahu Subtropicals, Stehly Farms Organics, Sundial Farms, Sunrise Farms Citrus, and Town Harvest, LLC. A sincere and special thanks to these farms for supplying food for the event, and for your broader efforts to keep the local San Diego County food system thriving!

Aside from getting some of the tastiest and freshest food around, CHIP went through this added effort to demonstrate that a healthy community must include our local farms.  Local farmers are working hand in hand with CHIP, brewers, chefs, and many others to rebuild a healthy food system and increase good food production and consumption in San Diego County. 1609952_10152414887054564_8310231976063357188_nIn addition, many of our local farms use sustainable practices that not only produce healthy foods, but promote the health of farm workers, water systems, and soil for years to come.

Many of the chefs and restaurants that participated in the event have been at the forefront of the local food movement for years. They believe that food tastes best when it is ripe and at the peak of the season. Chefs have played a key role in making these types of foods available to consumers. They have sought out and purchased10367189_10152414897289564_5051545092071973355_n from local growers even when it is more difficult and expensive. Restaurants are not only investing in a more regional food system, but are working closely with brewers, growers, and neighbors to build a sense of community and a place where people thrive.

San Diego County has the largest craft brew industry in the country with over 100 small, independent breweries. Our craft brewers have been some of the first to invest in local farms; many source local and organic products and some grow their own. The San Diego Brewers Guild has identified itself as sparking interest in artisanal foods, many of which use fresh, local ingredients. They are also leaders in other sustainability initiatives such as green energy and water efficiency methods. Many breweries are enriching the local culture by paying good wages, investing in redevelopment areas, and collaborating with organizations and businesses to enhance our community.

As we always say at CHIP, a healthy community requires a healthy environment, economy, and food system.  Our growers, chefs, and craft brewers are using their resources to change our food system, and CHIP did its best to incorporate these leaders in the local food movement into this year’s BREW Rendezvous. The result was undeniable: an amazing event full of great food and drink. CHIP thanks these local farms, restaurants, and breweries for their contribution to the event, and for their broader efforts to create a healthy San Diego!

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