by ANNA RABHAN
If you shop at local farmers markets or buy your food from a local farmer or co-op, if you prefer sustainably produced products, if you patronize locally owned businesses, or if you’ve even thought about those things, your day has come- literally. On October 24, our nation will celebrate its very first Food Day (www.foodday.org). This is a national campaign to draw attention to and celebrate healthy, affordable foods produced in a humane, sustainable ways. Some locales will celebrate only on the 24th, and some will make a weekend of it. Our beloved Northeast Florida, however, has collectively decided to go big!
A number of locally owned and operated food-related business and charities- from the Beaches to downtown Jacksonville to St. Augustine- have come together to offer a week’s worth of events. The goals of these participating organizations align with the six guiding principles of the Food Day campaign. For example: “Through our $5 potluck, we hope to prove that a fresh, healthy meal can cost less than a meal at a fast-food restaurant,” says Richard Villadoniga of Slow Food First Coast (www.slowfoodfirstcoast.com). “Slow food shouldn’t cost more than fast food.”
The number and variety of Food Day events in our area is evidence of the growing importance in the American psyche of principles like keeping the food supply system closer to home. “We’re passionate about supporting our local community,” says Cari Sánchez-Potter of Intuition Ale Works. On October 19, they will present a beer-pairing farm-to-table dinner with Chew Restaurant featuring produce and meat from local Black Hog Farm. All proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Sulzbacher Center.
On October 20, local beekeepers will sponsor a screening of the documentary Vanishing of the Bees at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St. Augustine. The $5 Slow Food First Coast potluck on October 21 at Genung’s Fish Camp will include the opportunity to sample local libations from Flagler Spirits. On October 22, Sustainable Springfield will host a Food Swap at Intuition Ale Works, and Beaches Local Food Network will have a fall plant sale at Jarboe Park to benefit the community garden. On October 23, there will be two Food Day bike tours. The first, a Moveable Feast bike tour of the gardens of Riverside/Avondale benefiting Slow Food First Coast, will be followed by a seasonal cooking demonstration at Intuition Ale Works by Chef Scotty Schwartz of 29 South. The demonstration will feature produce from local gardens and from The Veggie Bin. The second bike tour, organized by Beaches Local Food Network, will also feature neighborhood gardens and will end with an after-party at Engine 15. Finally, on October 24, the V.E.G.A.N.S. Food Day Fair will take place at the University of North Florida Student Union. More information about each of these events can be found at www.jacksonvillefoodday.wordpress.com.
Why is Northeast Florida celebrating this first Food Day in such a big way? Because participating organizations, businesses and farmers are looking to the future. Amie Keslar, owner of The Veggie Bin, says, “This is not just a week-long series of events, but an opportunity to draw attention to local food issues and help make a permanent change that supports a more sustainable and healthy future.” Now, let’s eat!
National Food Day
by ANNA RABHAN