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Food for Thought conference flier

Renowned California writer and organic-fruit grower David Mas Masumoto is the keynote speaker for the 24th annual Envisioning California conference Friday, Oct. 11, at Sacramento Public Library’s Tsakopoulos Library Galleria, 828 I St.

The conference, which runs from 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., is organized by the Center for California Studies at Sacramento State. The theme is “Food for Thought: Current Food Trends and Policies in the Golden State.

“Envisioning California is the Center’s flagship event, bringing together a broad cross-section of people who care about California and who think about where the state is heading,” says Steve Boilard, the Center’s executive director. “This year’s conference promises to be especially engaging, with a combination of discussions, demonstrations, tastings and other activities.”

Tickets, which include lunch, are $25 general and $10 for students. Register by Oct. 1 at

Envisioning California this year will try to better understand the relationship between California’s food and its identity by examining the state’s food products and practices. California is the world’s breadbasket and a leader in food trends and agricultural and environmental policies.

Masumoto, who grows peaches, nectarines and grapes for raisins in California’s Central Valley, will speak during the buffet lunch. He is the author of such books as Epitaph for a Peach: Four Seasons on My Family Farm, and he collaborated with his wife, Marcy, and daughter Nikiko on the cookbook The Perfect Peach: Recipes and Stories from the Masumoto Family Farm, published earlier this year.

A cast of high-profile food professionals and scholars will participate in four panel discussions throughout the day. The speakers and their affiliations are:

Charles Mason Jr. (Ubuntu Green), Keri Askew Bailey (California Grocers Association), Manuel Barajas (Sacramento State sociology professor), Paulette Bruce (Good Eats Cooking Classes), Barbara Cecchini (Cecchini & Cecchini Farm), Michael Dimock (Roots of Change), Gail Feenstra (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program and the Agricultural Sustainability Institute, at UC Davis), Clare Fox (Los Angeles Food Policy Council), and Lynn Hanna (Sac State’s Department of Family and Consumer Sciences.)

Additional speakers are Mary Kimball (Center for Land-Based Learning), Cory Clift (Freedom Farms), Guadalupe Sandoval (California Farm Labor Contractor Association),  Jason Resnick (Western Growers), Randall Selland (Selland Family Restaurants), Tracy Sellers (host, California Bountiful), Genevieve Shiroma (California Agricultural Labor Relations Board), Rodney Taylor (Riverside Unified School District), Paul Wenger (California Farm Bureau Federation) and Geoffrey Wood (master gardener, Sacramento County), Secretary Karen Ross (California Department of Food and Agriculture), Cathy Carmichael (McDonald's), John Struthers (Kaiser Permanente).

The topics up for discussion: “Stewardship of the Land that Sustains Us: The Future of Farming in California”; “California’s Farm Labor Shortages and the Impact of Immigration Reform”; “Food Poverty in an Agriculturally Rich State: How to Address Food Access Inequities Across California”; and “Farm to Fork: Future or Fad?”

In addition to Masumoto’s keynote address, the lunch hour will include the presentation of the Center for California Studies’ annual Journalism Awards, given for outstanding reporting on California food themes. The daylong conference winds down with the afternoon plenary “A Cornucopia of Food and Fun: A Taste of California Food Products and Ideas,” followed by a closing reception.

The Center for California Studies, founded in 1982 at Sacramento State, pursues its mission to strengthen democratic governance in California in a variety of ways, including running fellowship programs in all three branches of state government, furthering research and public discussions on state policy issues, and promoting civic education among high school students.

In 1989, the Center held its first Envisioning California conference and each year brings together Californians with particular insights into the state’s diverse histories, cultures and philosophies – and the consequences of diversity. The conference seeks to question what defines California, who Californians are and where California is going.

For media assistance, contact Sacramento State’s Office of Public Affairs at (916) 278-6156. – Dixie Reid