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Popular 'Iron Chef' style food cook-off returns to annual food summit in Farmington

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times

AZTEC — Community members wanting to learn more about locally-produced foods can sign up for the 2020 Northwest New Mexico Local Food Summit.

This is the third year this event has taken place. It started when Farmington was chosen to participate in the Local Foods, Local Places initiative spearheaded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2018. The first year’s event gathered community input. It was subsequently expanded to include a food fair showcasing local agriculture.

The Food Summit goes from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 10.

More:Farmington looks to spur the local food market

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic forced this year’s food summit into a virtual setting, meaning the majority of the summit will be conducted via Zoom

A salad prepared by Heath VanRiper using all local ingredients is seen, Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019, during the Northwest New Mexico Local Food Summit's cook-off event.

That isn’t the only change this year.

Erin Havens, the food hub project manager at the Harvest Food Hub, said participants will choose a track based on their interests. These tracks include:

  • health and community
  • institution
  • farmer
  • youth

“We have great speakers for each of those tracks,” she said.

In addition, the food summit will have two keynote speakers. It will also include a panel discussion, which was also included in the 2019 event.

More:Northwest New Mexico Local Food Summit celebrates progress, plans for the future

Although COVID-19 has forced the event into a virtual setting, Havens said the "Iron Chef" style food cook-off will continue this year with social distancing enforced. This means judges will each have their own table, masks will be worn and people will not be able to crowd around to watch. However, it will be streamed live on Facebook.

The food cook-off requires chefs to use locally-produced ingredients, which are often purchased at the Growers’ Markets or directly from farmers.

Heath VanRiper prepares food during an 'Iron Chef' challenge, Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019, at Farmington Civic Center.

The food cook-off will be from 10 a.m. to noon July 11 at Farmington Museum at Gateway Park, coinciding with the Saturday Growers’ Market. Havens said people can pick up local food guides at the various growers markets.

The Food Summit encourages people to buy fresh, local foods. Havens said interest has been increasing.

“I think we’re building more and more momentum,” she said.

People who wanto participate should register online at buyfreshbuylocalnwnm.org. The registration fee is $10.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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