Around the Ranch
June tends to be the busiest month of the year at the Ranch, and this year was no exception. The first weeks of June signal the beginning of the farmers’ market season in our area, the annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Heritage Fire and Grand Cochon in Snowmass Village, ACES annual Picnic on the Preserve, and our first Farm to Table Dinner of the year. Additionally this year, we were very involved in the Aspen Ideas Festival (AIF), which generally kicks off the last week of June.
Aspen Ideas Festival is a gathering of some of the brightest minds in the country and this year was particularly captivating for me as there was an entire program track dedicated to food entitled, “The Future of Food: Our Planet, Our Plates.” This track introduced, analyzed, and challenged numerous production practices, ideas, and concepts about our food system. The full line up of talks can be found here, as well as video of the panel “Can Sustainable Food Production Scale?” which I had the privilege to speak on.
This year AIF also featured numerous components addressing the issue of food waste. In the United States alone, an estimated 40 percent of all the food produced is wasted at the retail and consumer levels. This can come from cosmetically imperfect foods that never make it to the retail shelf, waste streams from food production, as well as waste from meals that consumers simply don’t eat. This issue is at such an alarming level that the Rockefeller Foundation, a supporting underwriter of the Aspen Ideas Festival, has recently launched YieldWise – a $130 million initiative that aims to cut food loss and waste in half within our food system.
Armed with this knowledge, the AIF team worked with their culinary team at the Aspen Meadows to incorporate food waste into several of the meals offered throughout the program. ACES was invited to join in the planning and execution of these efforts and the result was delicious food being incorporated into the Opening Reception, catered breakfasts, and an entire food waste lunch, sourced almost exclusively from products that would have otherwise ended up in the landfill. One of the most popular events during the Festival was an “Ugly Fruit Smoothie Bar” featured throughout the entire event using cosmetically imperfect fruits and vegetables.
The planning and discussions that took place prior to the event were very eye opening for the entire team. We identified food waste in our own establishments, ACES at Rock Bottom Ranch and Aspen Meadows, as well as a staggering list of food waste located within in the Roaring Fork Valley. These included cosmetically imperfect food items from local grocery stores (bruised fruit, wilted vegetables), waste products from local artisan products (spent grain from breweries and whey from cheesemaking), pest damaged food (like the flea beetle bitten turnip greens pictured below), day old bread from bakeries, overstocked inventory and others.
While the food events were a success we realized that we are just at the beginning of this issue. The future of ACES food events and my personal cooking will forever be changed because of this partnership exercise. The team at the Aspen Ideas Festival, Aspen Institute, Aspen Meadows and The Rockefeller Foundation were a joy to work with and we are excited about more collaboration in the future.
All products can be purchased at the Aspen Saturday Market and at Ranch during open hours (Monday – Friday 9AM – 5PM and Saturday 9AM – 1PM). Please call ahead to confirm availability or to place an order for pick-up.
Eggs are available for sale at Hallam Lake in Aspen during open hours (Monday - Saturday 9AM - 5PM).
- The first chickens of the season were harvested last week and we have a limited supply of Animal Welfare Approved, non-GMO, pasture-raised whole chickens available.
- Greens are in abundance this week with salad mix, Swiss chard, Scarlet and Ripbor Kale and Red Kitten spinach.
- Look for our first super sweet salad turnips of the season including the varieties Hakurei and Scarlet Queen Red Stems.
- Sweet Genovese basil is available in good supply – be sure to ask for the larger packages if you want to make some pesto for pizzas or to go along with some of our pasture-raised meats for the grill.
- Eggs are extremely limited this week.
- A full Rock Bottom Ranch / Cap-K Ranch Beef inventory is available including New York Strips, Ribeye steaks, briskets, short ribs, ground beef and more.
- A full pork inventory is available including chops, bacon, ribs, roasts, and ground pork.
~ Jason Smith, Rock Bottom Ranch Director
Rock Bottom Ranch is open Monday – Friday 9AM – 5PM and Saturday from 9AM – 1PM with Farm Tours each day at 11AM. For questions about Rock Bottom Ranch please email Jason at email@example.com.