Each day for Wendy Rosser, owner and baker at Rosser’s Bakery, begins with 60 loaves of bread, 90 muffins, 50 scones and 10 rounds of sourdough. But if you think you might be able to snag a few bargain day-olds from Rosser’s, think again. In fact, arrive just before Wendy shutters Rosser’s for the day, and Mother Hubbard might have more in her cupboard than you do. Wendy just about sells out of her hand-crafted baked goods every day.
Rosser’s Bakery and Specialty Foods, a family-owned and operated bakery, is sandwiched between Holiday Market and an auto shop on Antelope Boulevard in Red Bluff. It’s an unexpected location for a business that serves as a big band for the Slow Food Movement, with a teacher-turned-baker as its drum major.
Slow Food Shasta Cascade member Wendy and her bakery are at the forefront of the Slow Food concept: it’s a gastro-economic celebration of the community’s sources for good, wholesome, locally-produced food. Wendy does her part by milling her own wheat, buying most of her ingredients from local suppliers and stocking her shelves with yummy things from local candy, cheese and olive oil makers.
Wendy is a hyper-local example of Slow Food at work, but the national Slow Food website explains the movement best:
Slow Food is a non-profit, eco-gastronomic member-supported organization that was founded in 1989 to counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.
Their philosophy? Simple: Food should taste good, be produced in a clean way and support those who produce it. Inherent in this philosophy is that consumers become “co-producers” who take an active role in the production process by supporting local butchers, farmers and bakers.
Red Bluff’s contribution to Slow Food Shasta Cascade’s events is this week’s “Field to Fork,” an opportunity for valley food producers to share what they sow, harvest, farm-raise and bake.
“Our local farmers are our neighbors,” says Kathy Moore, Slow Food Shasta Cascade co-leader. “We have so much food in this area. Why would you buy olive oil from Italy when you can buy great olive oil from Corning?”
Dare to tell Kathy that olive oil from Italy is cheaper and she’ll give you a lesson in the real “costs” to our environment and local economy, from fuel and transportation, to losses to mom-and-pop producers.
Red Bluff’s Field to Fork event will feature an expanded farmer’s market, local artisan food samples, fresh food delivery vendors, and free gardening, farm demo and butter-making activities for kids by the Tehama County Farm Bureau. The day begins with a pancake breakfast, complete with local nuts, fruits, honey and butter.
“Field to Fork” connects more of the community’s dots by supporting the Poor and the Homeless Tehama County Coalition (PATH) and local school farms like the Walnut Street Collaborative Garden. Walnut Street, a Tehama County Department of Probation, Health Services and Sanitary Landfill project, tended by correctional youth, supplies food to local food banks and shelters.
“We’re excited to take part in ‘Field to Fork,’ says Tehama County Probation’s Richard Muench. We greatly appreciate Slow Food’s continued support.”
Saturday, Wendy Rosser will stay true to her life’s routine and rise with the sun — this time, to grind wheat into flour for the “Field to Fork” pancake breakfast. She takes great pride in “providing something to the community that no one else provides,” she said, and is charmingly modest when talking about her passion.
Her supporters are diametrically immodest when praising Wendy. “Slow Foods isn’t a movement for her,” says Mary Jane Eidman, a Slow Food Co-Leader and owner of Discover Earth in Red Bluff. “It’s her life. She’s living it and doing it.”
Join your neighbors Saturday and find out how you can, too.
What: Slow Food Shasta Cascade 2nd Annual “Field to Fork”
When: Sat., June 26 – 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Red Bluff River Park, 100 Main Street, Red Bluff
Cost: Pancake breakfast: $7/adults, $3/kids under 12. Other activities are free.
Tickets: Available at Discover Earth (641 Main St.) and Rosser’s Bakery (446 Antelope Blvd.) in Red Bluff, and Infinite Designs (1189 Hilltop Dr.) and Orchard Nutrition (221 Locust Street) in Redding.
For more information about “Field to Fork,” call (530) 529-3856.
Adam Mankoski is a recent North State transplant who feels completely at home here. He enjoys experiencing and writing about the people, places and things that embody the free spirit of the State of Jefferson. He and his partner own HawkMan Studios and are the creators of Redding’s 2nd Saturday ArtHop. Email your NorthState weekend events to firstname.lastname@example.org.