Califonia Bountiful

California fig fans

Historic fruit gains new followers in the Golden State

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The heart of the Central Valley is where you'll find the city of Clovis. And the heart of downtown Clovis is where you'll find Chris Shackelford doing what he loves: cooking and creating masterpieces of culinary art at Trelio. As owner and chef, his restaurant has become synonymous with fresh, local, quality ingredients. And at the top of that ingredient list is a local favorite: figs.

From cherrywood smoked fresh figs to roasted beets and fresh figs, Chris wholeheartedly believes in serving up the farm-to-fork concept. But he also believes in bringing the farmer to the fork—in this case inviting local fig farmer Matt Jura to eat and showing how he uses the fruit's nuances to craft his unique culinary creations.

Matt knows a thing or two about figs himself: He's a third-generation fig farmer whose family has been farming in the Central Valley for more than a century now. Matt and his dad, Keith, own nearly 500 acres in Chowchilla where the fruit soaks up that famous California sun.

Once the figs come in from the field, they go through a shaker to remove any foreign objects. Then they're rinsed, washed and sorted further to make sure only the best of the best make it through.

From here the figs will go into a variety of products for all of us to enjoy, including sauces and dressings and fig paste, which will find its way into cookies, energy bars and other items.

California farmers like Matt produce 100 percent of the nation's dried figs. When it comes to fresh figs—which California produces 98 percent of the nation's supply—it's up to farmers like Chris DeBenedetto. High school buddies with Matt, he's also a third-generation farmer and has seen firsthand how figs are finding new fans.

"It's become a trend with a lot of young people who have seen the health benefits of figs," he said. "Before they were a little bit more intimidated by them and didn't know what a fig was, but now they're loving them."

And while figs have historical significance, it's the future that has farmers and chefs excited.

For more information about California figs, visit

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