Wednesday, April 6, 2011

FOOD SUMMIT AND A THINK AHEAD SUNDAY

In a past blog I've discussed the Summit Food Policy Coalition group that I am volunteering with in an effort to bring about all things better when it comes to food in our area.  The group is made up of a diverse number of people from all walks of life, many non-profit organizations in the community and some interested individuals such as myself.

After the release of the Summit Health Initiative Report last month, it was determined that it might be in the best interests of the community if we could create a "Food Charter" that can deliver to our policy makers and health organizations ideas and directives they can use when making decisions that affect us all. 

Friday and Saturday were the days that brought the community together to begin this process.  Friday night the Akron Summit Community Action sponsored a viewing of "Fresh, The Movie" to a packed house of nearly 250 people who were there in preparation for the discussions to come on Saturday.  The movie was meant to inspire each attendee to contemplate the entirety of the food we eat, from the growing, processing, distribution, and preparation of it. 

According to the Fresh website, "FRESH celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system. Each has witnessed the rapid transformation of our agriculture into an industrial model, and confronted the consequences: food contamination, environmental pollution, depletion of natural resources, and morbid obesity. Forging healthier, sustainable alternatives, they offer a practical vision for a future of our food and our planet."

Saturday, mostly these same folks reassembled to have the discussion.  Each participant was set into a table of up to 8 others, including a facilitator, and given a series of topics to consider and then to regurgitate (if you'll forgive the term) back into a cohesive list of issues they felt needed to be addressed by the Food Charter.  Broad topics included Health & Nutrition, Access to fresh affordable foods, and Local food economics. 

Chris Norman, John Moore and
Cleveland Councilman Joe Cimperman
Several speakers arrived to help set the tone of the summit, including Beth Knorr of the Countryside Conservancy, Chris Norman of Crown Pointe, Malcom Costa of Akron Summit Community Action, Suellen Roberts, Dietitian at Cuyahoga Falls City Schools, Anisi Daniels Smith of the Akron Office of Minority Health and Phillip Nabors, owner of Mustard Seed Market.  Several local legislators were represented as well including John Moore, Director of Planning from the City of Akron and head of Akron Grows, the organization that organizes the Akron sponsored community gardens. 

Undeniably, the most enthusiastic speaker of the day was Joe Cimperman, Councilman from the City of Cleveland.  As a local legislator, Mr. Cimperman has been working within his community to change things for the better through modification of zoning laws, use of public lands and promoting urban gardening throughout the city.  One of his goals is the limitation of what he terms our "high fructose economy."  As pointed out by Beth Knorr, our Federal Government heavily subsidizes corn farming and yet offers no subsidies for the growing of other fruits and vegetables with the result being that the cost of vegetables we buy at the grocery now rising two times faster than the cost of foods such as soda pop containing high fructose corn syrup.  Between lobbying at all levels of our government by HFCS money, and the pervasive use of the product throughout our diets, the product shows up everywhere throughout our diet.  Whether or not you believe it's healthy for us physically, it definitely has an impact economically as well. 

GETTING INVOLVED
There are plenty of opportunities for all of us to get involved in the process as it moves forward.  Urban gardening, industrial kitchen incubators, farm markets, cooking education - all have room for additional helping hands.  Visit the website for more information http://www.cvcountryside.org/food/SummitFoodPolicyCoalition.php  The next meeting will be on April 26 and the topic will be local food in institutional settings. 

AFTER ALL THAT EDUCATION...SUNDAY WAS A DAY FOR DOING SOME GOOD DIETARY THINGS FOR MYSELF
Sunday was one of those days that I couldn't quite bring myself to leave the house.  Dreary and damp and cold, it seemed best to stay indoors and prepare for the upcoming week.

Taking some inspiration from all of the discussions yesterday about healthier eating, I took the opportunity to make some grab and go breakfasts for myself, a loaf of wonderful garlic and rosemary bread and a crisp pea and cucumber salad to take in a lunch or two this week.

See the full account of my Honey Oat Bars over on my other blog for full directions and stick around for the bread recipe a little later in the week.  Hardly anyone would require directions for my favorite "Yogurt and fruit parfait" but you can see the process here. 

Fresh ingredients make for a healthy portable breakfast to grab on the way out the door in the morning.  I used to struggle with what to transport this in until someone suggested using a pint jar with reusable lid.  This makes the perfect vehicle to take to work every morning with no chance to spill contents or to waste plastic containers when I can wash and reuse these so easily.

For two parfaits, chop 1 kiwi, 5-6 strawberries, a handful of blueberries and about 3 inches of a banana.  Layer with 1/2-3/4 cup nonfat organic yogurt per jar, just enough to come to the top of the jar.  I use homemade granola to top mine off with, but you can certainly buy a good product from your favorite grocer.  Here is the recipe I used.
Ready to travel with side containers of granola.  Don't try to add the granola to the jar, it will be horribly soggy by the time to are ready to eat.  Sprinkle the granola on as you eat.
CRISPY SNAP PEA, CUCUMBER AND RADISH SALAD
Makes 2-3 servings.

This salad is simple, quick and requires just a little chopping work to get rolling.  It lasts in the fridge for quite a while also.  Perfect to pair along side a sandwich for a workday lunch or as an alternative to a green lettuce salad for dinner. 

3/4 cup snap peas, cut into bite-size pieces
3-4 inch piece of English cucumber, cut into bite-size dice
4 radishes, sliced
1 Tablespoon sesame, sunflower or poppy seeds
4 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
4 teaspoons cider vinegar

Assemble all the ingredients in a small bowl, toss together and serve.  Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

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