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Learn how your favorite foods, drinks are made on local tours

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Posted: Sunday, June 11, 2017 5:30 pm

How much do you know about where your food comes from?

Living in Lodi, the answer might be "a lot" — between the city's agricultural roots, vendors at the Downtown Lodi Farmers Market, events like AgVenture, and the tours offered by wineries and olive oil growers, Lodi residents have dozens of opportunities each year to learn about the journey from farm to fork.

Lucky for local foodies, there are always more delicious opportunities to learn.

If you're trying to plan a summertime day trip, try one of these food tours in the Lodi area. Learn a little more about food, hit the gift shop and — most important — try a few samples.

Jelly Belly Candy and Anheuser-Busch in Fairfield

The Jelly Belly Candy Company factory tour is a favorite of school children in the local area, but it's great for grown-ups and families, too. Enjoy a stroll through the factory, where you learn each step that goes into creating a delicious, sugary jelly bean. You'll also have the chance to try a few flavors, and pick up some trivia — like learning about President Ronald Reagan's love of Jelly Belly beans. (He's also commemorated in jelly bean portrait form at the factory!)

Jelly Belly Candy Company tours are free and offered daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the factory, 1 Jelly Belly Lane, Fairfield. Visitors are also welcome to shop at the Jelly Belly Candy Store and Chocolate Shoppe or dine at the Jelly Belly Cafe.

For more information, visit www.jellybelly.com or call 800-953-5592.

Fairfield is also home to one of six tourable Anheuser-Busch locations — where Budweiser beer is made. The brewery in Fairfield opened in 1976, and has become the company's "greenest" brewery, relying on a 7-acre solar array and two wind turbines to produce the popular beverage. Tours show how and why the Fairfield location produces truly "green" beer, and shares the history of the American company. One note: No jewelry is permitted on the tour.

Tours are available between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily from June to August, and start at the top of the hour. The factory is closed on Wednesdays throughout June. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from September to May.

Anheuser-Busch is at 3101 Busch Drive, Fairfield. For more information, visit www.budweisertours.com or call 707-429-7595.

Cheesy tours in Hilmar and Oakdale

Oakdale Cheese has its roots in the Netherlands. Founders Walter and Lenneke Bulk immigrated to California in the late 1970s, and began making small, hand-crafted batches of Dutch gouda, quark and yogurt — a four-generation family tradition. To this day, Oakdale Cheese specializes in hand-crafted, family recipes.

Visitors are welcome to come watch the 11-week process of making gouda. Complimentary, self-guided tours are available during business hours, but Oakdale Cheese asks that any groups larger than 10 call at least 24 hours in advance to make arrangements.

Oakdale Cheese Company is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily from April until mid-January. Winter hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Oakdale Cheese is at 10040 Highway 120, Oakdale. For more information, visit www.oakdalecheese.com or call 209-848-3139.

The Hilmar Cheese Company was founded by a dozen families in Hilmar in 1984. The popular plant produces Monterey jack, pepper jack, cheddar, colby and several other kinds of cheese. Now, it serves customers in more than 50 countries worldwide from the main plant in Hilmar and an additional plant in Texas.

Visitors to the plant can see how cheese is mass produced and check out interactive, hands-on exhibits about cows. Free self-guided tours are available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Free guided tours are available Monday through Friday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Hilmar Cheese Company is at 9001 N. Lander Ave., Hilmar. For more information, visit www.hilmarcheese.com or call 800-577-5772.

Kikkoman Foods and Gekkeikan in Folsom

If you've ever poured out a little Kikkoman soy sauce to dip your sushi in, you might be surprised to learn it doesn't all come from across the Pacific in Japan. In fact, one of the soy sauce factories is just a little more than 50 miles away, in Folsom.

The Kikkoman Foods plant doesn't offer self-guided tours like many of the factories on this list, but guests can call 916-355-8078 to book a tour appointment. Kikkoman Foods is at 1000 Glenn Drive on the corner of Folsom Boulevard. For more information, visit www.kikkomanusa.com.

If you already have beer and wine tours under your belt, a sake tour might be up your alley. Gekkeikan in Folsom has self-guided tours from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The tasting room is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Guided tours for groups are also available by appointment.

Enjoy the state-of-the-art brewery, Japanese-style garden and koi pond, and browsing the unique snacks and accessories in the gift shop.

For more information or to make guided tour reservations, visit www.gekkeikan-sake.com or call 916-985-3111.

Mee Mee Bakery in San Francisco

Since 1950, Mee Mee Bakery in Chinatown has been baking fresh fortune cookies for restaurants, hotels and direct sale to customers. The historical bakery also makes moon cakes, Cow Ear Snackers, almond macaroons, sweet pork pastries and more.

Visitors are invited to come and see how these sweet desserts are made. Visit the bakery's storefront from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday or 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Tours are also available by appointment; call 415-362-3204 to set one up.

Mee Mee Bakery is at 1328 Stockton St. in San Francisco. For more information, visit www.meemeebakery.com.

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