Winemakers in Bordeaux have known about it for centuries. In the past decade, even California vintners have caught on to the idea. Now it appears to be filtering down from the vineyard to the fields of agriculture.
We're talking about terroir.
It's the word the French use to describe the specific combination of climate, soil, geology and weather that make each vineyard and vintage unique. But it's more than that.
The term also describes how the convergence of these factors communicates a sense of place to the palates of those who enjoy their fruits, putting people back in touch with the land around them.
It's a mouthful for just one word.
But with the global debate about "food miles" still raging — on whether locally grown food actually has a smaller carbon footprint than mass-produced food that travels across the country or across oceans — there are other compelling reasons to embrace the French concept.
And amidst the media deluge of all things Green, it might be easy to overlook just how far we've come on the Midpeninsula. So in our spring "e" sections, we're putting the spotlight on some leaders in the local food movement.
Also in this issue is our guide to navigating the Palo Alto Earth Month events, recognizing that environmental concerns have become so compelling and urgent that one Earth Day can no longer contain them.
Local restaurateur and Slow Food advocate Jesse Cool has been immersed in the local food movement for years, populating her menus with regionally grown items and running her own small farm.
Her monthly series at Flea St. Café in Menlo Park focuses on the Northern California people who grow and produce the food she serves — an opportunity one doesn't necessarily get when eating bananas flown in from Ecuador.
But you don't have to be a chef to reap the benefits of fresh, locally grown produce. Get the goods delivered to you straight from the farm in a number of Community Supported Agriculture programs from local growers.
Cutting down on food miles has never tasted so good.