Food expo asks Fairfielders to become conscious consumers
Advocating health eating and sustainable food sources, organizers of this weekend's Food for Thought Expo provided a plethora of information through its expert speakers, demonstrations and wellness fair.
Sponsored by the Fairfield Parent Teacher Association's Fuel for Learning Partnership, organic gardening, green living, nutrition and school lunches were a few of the topics covered during Saturday's all-day program held at Fairfield Warde High School.
Analiese Paik, founder and editor of The Fairfield Green Food Guide, touted the importance of eating whole foods during her talk called, "Get it Local: Finding All Your Eating Needs In and Around Fairfield County."
Paik, a former member of the PTA's wellness committee, promotes eating whole, sustainable foods by showing consumers where to purchase `green' products.
Like many of the event's organizers, Paik abhors some of the school lunch choices offered to Fairfield youngsters.
"There is too much processed food," she stated. "We don't know where it's coming from."
Paik agreed to have her comments videotaped for possible inclusion in the season finale of the new television show, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.
Its producers reportedly sent Annelise McCay, another Fairfield parent and committee member, a video camera so that she could film segments of the Fairfield Food Expo for the television which debuted last Friday night.
When asked what she thought of Oliver's show, Fairfield mom Isabelle Menozzi replied, "It was amazing."
According to Paik, the show's producer contacted McCay after she posted on its blog about the Fairfield Food Expo.
"I think it's really important for people outside of Fairfield County to understand what we have been working so hard to accomplish," said Paik. "For the past five years, we in Fairfield have certainly been declaring our own food revolution. This has been a great event."
Many of the vendors at the Food Expo were local farms, restaurants and holistic health providers. As visitors wandered to each table, they looked over the displays, picked up literature to read at home and sampled delicious healthy foods. Some of the tasty goodies offered were homemade organic flax bread made by Michael Mordecai of the Fairfield Bread Company, all-natural honey from Red Bee Apiary and tofu cupcakes from Health in a Hurry, a vegetarian take-out restaurant located on Fairfield's Post Road.
"We had a really nice turnout today," said Sue Cadwell, owner of Health in a Hurry. She has owned and operated the vegetarian eatery for five years.
Margaret Mary Feeney was on hand to promote Feeney's Farm, a new initiative that would provide fresh vegetables to people with cancer. A recent graduate of University of Connecticut's Masters in Business program, Feeney lost her father to pancreatic cancer four years ago.
"If there is anything I could do to help those with cancer to heal, then I want to do it," she said.
During this first inaugural growing season, Feeney plans to plant only a few different types of vegetables. "It's going to be very much a trial-and-error year," she noted.
Children were encouraged to take a stab at gardening themselves as volunteers helped them to plant seeds into a seedling holder. Sisters Meilene and Teaon Fung, students at Stratfield School, helped children choose between peas, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
The young girls' green thumb was acquired while working in their own backyard's floral and vegetable garden, they said. They also are working to promote recycling.
"When people produce waste, it makes the temperature hotter," explained Meilene. "That's why it's important to recycle. This will really make a difference in the world."
Nick Mancini, a certified master gardener from the Cooperative Extension System of the University of Connecticut, also urged people to plant produce in local residences when he spoke Saturday morning on "Growing Your Own Produce: Organic Backyard Gardening."
Fitness and nutrition expert Samantha Heller discussed the correlation between healthy eating and increased brain power.
Fairfield parent Linda Murphy led children through a hands-on activity related to nutrition. Slogans, such as "Eat Foods That Rot" and "Live Food for Live Bodies," covered the walls of the room where youngsters gathered. Among some of the nutrition facts and figures they learned was that an apple contains more than 10,000 nutrients while a typical vitamin supplement for children has only 13.
"Why do we say that `an apple a day keeps the doctor away,?'" Murphy asked.
A preschool child spontaneously replied, "Because an apple is a fruit, and it's good for you."
Murphy agreed, smiling.
"Please eat the whole foods," she urged.