Expands Minds, Tantalizes Tastebuds:
Fairfield Warde High School event
(Posted to Fairfield.Patch.com 3/26)
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2010. All Rights Reserved.
Fairfield, CT – Organic growers, natural products companies, foodies and average folks that just wanted to know how they could eat healthier all came together Saturday at Fairfield Warde High School.
The attraction was the 2nd Annual Food for Thought Expo, which offered visitors a full complement of healthy food resources, over 30 exhibitors from bakeries to health professionals, cooking demonstrations, children’s activities, movie screenings and more. The event was hosted by the Fuel for Learning Partnership.
“The Partnership was formed in 2006 to improve the quality of the school lunch program and works to provide solutions to obesity,” said Michelle McCabe, the group’s chairman. “One of its key events is this expo which aims to introduce the community to a large amount of local resources for whole unprocessed nutritious foods. We invite businesses that embrace sustainability and source local ingredients. We also have farmers participate.”
Exhibitors were separated and placed around the school by category. In the farm resources area, Analiese Paik, founder of Fairfield Green Food Guide, was offering information about her online directory for consumers to find local and sustainably grown food resources. Listings range from farms and farmers markets to farm-to-table restaurants and green food events. She said her guide is helpful “for people looking to eat fresh food closer to home from trusted resources” and that the expo is “a great way to educate consumers about healthy food and healthy eating.”
At an adjacent table, Ed Hartz, owner of The Milkman Company of Newtown, was telling expo visitors about his products. “We deliver farm fresh foods, including milk and dairy, directly to homes, old milkman style,” he said. “We distribute products from 20 to 25 different farms throughout New England.”
Hartz added, “Food has become industrial. I’m against industrialization. I believe in local farming and supporting locally grown food. And supporting local farmers boosts the economy, brings good food to people, helps preserve land and improves health.”
Aimee O’Brien, a Partnership committee member and coordinator of the event’s Children’s Nutrition Room, was busy guiding kids and their parents about the benefits of fruits and vegetables. “I ask the kids to make a rainbow on their plates, with regard to the color of the food items and how they correspond to a rainbow. I also ask them about what they already eat and how certain choices benefit specific parts of their bodies. At the same time, I educate parents about ingredients labels and to go for products that have natural elements.”
In the plants area of the event, Fairfield Ludlowe High School students Kim Cortellessa and Morgan Wyckoff, both 14, gave away little pods of soil in which seeds of choice had been planted. “We’re providing people with the opportunity to plant seeds and take them home to start their own garden,” said Wyckoff. “We’ve got seeds that include chicory, gourds, sunflowers, pumpkins, squash and watermelon.”
Providing a cooking demonstration to a roomful of show attendees, Amy Hall, a health and cooking coach, said, “We’re offering local sustainable meal choices, like spicy tacos and lasagna, focusing on farm food, dark leafy greens and root vegetables. We want to make every meal and ingredient count at every occasion.”
In the school’s cafeteria, an array of companies had been arranged, all providing food samples. Visitors could taste organic salsa, local farm-grown cheese, bread, pure honey, juices, salad offerings, fruit shakes, milk and allergen-free cupcakes.
“We have two flavors at present,” said Amy Barnouw, co-owner of Fairfield-based Planet Fuel organic juices. “Cherry Lemonade and Apple Grape. Two more are coming out in April. They’re all organic with no artificial ingredients or preservatives. Our goal was to go back to basics – organic juice and water. We only use resealable, recyclable, reusable aluminum cans and each flavor has a “Planet Protector” character like Rainforest Rita and Ocean Olivia. These help convey a healthy kid, healthy planet message and help kids understand their influence as consumers.”
Sampling her Red Bee Honey, owner Marina Marchese said, “We sell to Fairfield businesses and look to promote honey as a sustainable sweetener. There are tremendous health benefits of pure, real honey that include anti-bacterial properties and an ability to balance blood sugar and boost the immune system.”
Tasting cheeses at the Fairfield Cheese Company’s table, Kate Garey of Westport explained that she had just finished culinary school and wants to start a business that only uses local organic products. “The expo is a great way for me to meet potential suppliers.”