OPINION: Sacramento’s new water tower slogan can go fork itself


The new slogan “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital” was painted over “City of Trees” on the I-5 water tower. (Photo by Barbara Harvey)

(Originally published on March 11)

As workers finished replacing “City of Trees” with “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital” as the I-5 water tower motto Thursday, Sacramentans feasted on outrage.

A poll on the SacBee website reflected overwhelming displeasure at the rebranding: As of Saturday, 82 percent of respondents said they preferred the old slogan.

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The backlash is entirely unsurprising. To strip a city of a longstanding point of pride in favor of a poorly thought-out marketing ploy is an egregious insult to locals.

“City of Trees” is quantifiable. Not just a title we casually bestowed upon ourselves at the behest of business-minded bureaucrats and local fine dining bigwigs.

For decades, “City of Trees” has given Sacramento — the perennial cowtown, often overshadowed by our ritzy Bay neighbors — a real sense of identity that we could own. It provokes memories all Sacramentans surely share of seeking relief from our blistering summers under the canopy of trees lining our streets and parks.

The pride in our arboreal roots (pun intended) can even be found at Sacramento State, where students on orientation tours are given the opportunity to guess how many trees are planted around campus. (The answer, if you’re curious, is a staggering 3,500.)

It’s not just a label with which to affix ourselves in the hopes of riding the tail end of a culinary trend all the way to big city-dom.

In this sense, “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital” is hardly a fitting replacement, especially considering that there were “nearly 220,000 food insecure residents living in Sacramento County” in 2012, according to the Hunger Hits Home study conducted by Valley Vision, Community Link and the Hunger Coalition, and that the locavore movement may in fact reduce the variety of available foods while driving up prices.

An identity based around an often pretentious movement which reeks of gentrification is not one we should seek.

Many of us love Sacramento for what it is — not what it hopes to become given the right branding and development deals.

Water tower slogan or not, to those of us who grew up here, regaled with factoids about how we live in the city with the most trees per capita, Sacramento is and will always be the “City of Trees.”

What are your thoughts on the slogan? Let us know in the comments below.