Tag Archives: Georgia

FNCE 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia

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It is that time again with FNCE 2014 (Food Nutrition Conference and Expo) from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  Since this year it is in Atlanta, Georgia, I knew that I needed to come to this incredible conference!  Being a Secretary of NOBIDAN (National Organization of Blacks in Dietetics and Nutrition) – website- www.nobidan.org which is part of the Member Interest Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND.  I had the chance to participated in alot of events that were associated with NOBIDAN.  This year was a historical year because the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has appointed their first African American President-Elect!  Dr. Evelyn Crayton, Ed, RD, LD, FAND who is also a NOBIDAN member was elected this past February 2014 and will start her term on June 1st, 2015.  I had a chance to speak with her and it was such a honor to meet with her!

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This year FNCE there were so many things going on and the speakers were excellent!  One of the speakers that I had enjoyed was Adam Keek who is a Olympic Rower and he explains about using the art of rowing with high performance.  One of the things that he explained about is his disciplines of leadership is to stay focused.  It is not easy to stay focus on a goal let alone training for the Olympics.  He explained how he was able to focus by using the Breakthrough Theory.  For the first 4-5 years you maybe in limbo but with effort time you realize that you need a break through and pretty soon what was hard to do becomes familiar.

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Another thing that Adam discussed about is Eat Well = Be Well.  When you eat well then this will result in your body, mind and spirit in becoming a healthy.  Like the old saying goes “You are what you eat!”

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The last thing that was important to me from what Adam said on the Disciplines for Leadership is finding a mentor.  That is so important to find someone who has

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I really appreciate Mr. Adam Keek speech particularly him closing out this incredible and exciting conference!  His message came at the right time!

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Next year FNCE is going to be at Nashville, TN and I can not wait what is going to happen there!  Hope to see you there!

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The 35th Year Appreciation Celebration of the Georgia Master Gardener – Part 1

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I was truly honored in being invited to come to the Griffin, Georgia for the 35th year appreciation celebration of the Georgia Master Gardener.  This wonderful event was taken place at the University of Georgia- Griffin Campus which is one of the leading premier agricultural research centers in the region!  Also on this day is the 100th anniversary of the Georgia Cooperative Extension Services which start the Georgia Master Gardener program – 35 years ago.  There was over 200 Master Gardeners all over Georgia that came for this celebration.

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I had a chance to do the research tour of the Griffin Campus where they explained to Volunteer Master Gardeners about everything that is being done in order to improve the agricultural conditions in Georgia.  I start the tour by going on the University of Georgia tram with my fellow Douglasville Volunteer Master Gardener group .  We had a fabulous tour guide Parker Ivey who gave us alot of information about UGA Griffin Campus.  Our tour was divided into 3 tours in the morning and 3 tours in the afternoon,  On this blog posting I am going to discuss about the 3 morning tours.

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First stop of  the tour was the UGA Griffin Research and Education Garden with Tony Johnson.  Tony Johnson, Horticulturist discuss about the research display gardens are trying to recover from the 4 degree temperatures of the severe winter weather months that Georgia and the whole US early part of this year.  The research display gardens sits on 65 areas of land and it is divided into sections.  1. Arbor area, 2. Butterfly garden, 3. Children’s garden, 4. Herb garden, 5. Grandma’s garden, 6. Native plants, 7. Water garden, 8. Perennial garden and 9. a soon to be Asian garden.  These gardens have been in existence since October 1995.  Mr. Johnson made a joke “Anything out of place or is wrong then it is Research fault”.

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Next we traveled over to the raised gardens section where we met up with Bob Westerfield.  Mr.  Westerfield is the Department Horticulture and Program Coordinator of UGA of Griffin and is currently conducting research on raised bed gardening.  The research looks at growing in different types of soil medium as well as different depths.  Everything in the garden (fruits and vegetables) is being grown organically and a slow drip irrigation system is being use with a timer for watering.

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The the last tour for that morning was at the conservation garden with Dr. Kris Braman, Professor of Entomology at UGA of Griffin.  Dr. Braman research is focused on insect plant interactions, especially with the fascinating world of beneficial insects.  It was interesting in learning about the top ten pollinators and butterflies that are needed in a garden.

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During the lunchtime, there were alot of speakers at this celebration thanking the Georgia Master Gardeners for volunteering their time and hours  in this very special program. Dr. Beverly Spears, Associate Dean for Extension, said that there is over 3,200 active Master Gardener in Georgia which covers the time of the 100 Full-Time employees in Georgia.

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Dr. Steve Brown, Assistant Dean for Extension explained about the history of the Master Gardener and he thank all of the help that the Georgia Master Gardeners for contribute to the County with the Cooperative Extension Services.

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Sheri Dorn, State Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Coordinator, explained about the new badges for the Georgia Master Gardeners and that the  Master Gardeners is finally catching up with the technology age with electronic communication.

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It was great to hear these speaker under the back drop of the beautiful Woodroof Pavilion.  This pavilion was used in the 1996 Olympics to showcase agriculture to the world and then after the Olympics it was dissembled and brought to the UGA Griffin Campus.  This pavilion was renamed in honor of Naomi Chapman Woodroof, one of the first woman in the agriculture field (she studied plant pathology) and was the first woman in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences to be hired in 1920’s.  She also worked with Food Sciences and was prominent in changing peanuts from a feed crop to a food crop.  What a incredible woman!!

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Turn in next week when I discuss about the 3 afternoon tour that consist of ornamental plant breeding process, turfgrass shade research and USDA Seed Storage!!

Want to see pictures at the University of Georgia on Griffin Campus!  Click here!

10th Anniversary of the Alive Expo

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This is another year for the Alive Expo but this year is it’ s 1oth year anniversary.   Alive Expo is a two day event  of “Natural Products, Organic Foods and Green Living”!  I had the chance to visit different companies and sample healthy, organic and quick meal preparations.  I can not believe that it has been 10 years for the Alive Expo.

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One of the main speakers  at the Alive Expo was Jordan Rubin the Founder of Beyond Organics.  I had read his New York Times Bestseller the “Maker’s Diet” which was excellent and everyone who is interested in living the alternative medicine lifestyle should read that book.  He has a brand new book called the “Maker’s Diet Revolution” where he discuss about boosting your immune system and promote optimal digestive health.  You have to definitely check out the Beyond Organics products.

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After listening to Jordan Rubin speak, I then proceed down the vendors aisles to see what new products are being promoted at this expo.   One of the products that I like is a family own run business called Mo Spices.  Mo Spices are seasonings that are low in sodium but brings excellent flavor to foods.   I love the lemon pepper seasoning and it brings back the healthy in food.   Check out their website: http://www.MOSPICES.com.

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Another product I like at the conference was Little Me Tea.  Little Me Tea is the healthy alternative to juice – organic tea for kids.  It is sweetened only with fruit and veggies juices, super low in sugar, certified organic and caffeine-free.  I had a taste of the tea and found it very tasty.   It is a great alternative drink instead of sodas.

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There were so many other products that I was interested in at the Alive Expo such as Lettuce Buy Local which the lettuce is made here in Georgia and Leahey Foods – a gluten free vegan food company.  Excellent tasting gluten free cookies!

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Like always the Alive Expo had excellent products and companies that educated the public about green healthy natural living.  I will definitely come back next year!

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Hanging Out at the Atlanta Farmer’s Market

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Now, I must admit that I have not been to the Atlanta Farmer’s Market in Clayton County, Georgia in a very long time and I have no excuses for not going.  This open air market is incredible with all of the seasonal varieties of fresh fruits, vegetables and homemade goods directly from the Georgia Farmer’s themselves.  No Middlemen here in this market.  You are negotiating your business with the growers themselves.  Now that is part of sustainable living.  So much to choose from that I did not know where to start!

First, I have to eat some lunch before my market shopping spree.  My group of 4H’s and Master Gardeners from Douglas County decided to stop at a local popular Southern cuisine restaurant called Oakwood Cafe.  All of the dishes are homemade daily, using the freshest ingredients available from the Farmer’s produce at the market.  Boy, my lunch meal with grilled tilapia fish was delicious and all of the veggies were fresh and good.  The interesting thing about this restaurant is their values and mission.  Oakwood Restaurant’s mission is to be a community meeting and eating place serving fresh, homemade breakfast, lunch and dinner in a family restaurant with the utmost purpose: to glorify God. this restaurant is closed on Sunday is one of the ways that the Oakwood Cafe locations is to honor God.

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After fulling my stomach, I decided to walk with the group around the 150 acres, of the Atlanta Farmer’s Market. This market is considered one of the largest of its kind in the world. It features a garden center, wholesale and retail activities, and is a major marketing hub and distribution point for fresh produce in the Southeast and throughout the country. This Market is also very convenient and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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It is so important to buy locally so while I was at the market I was able to purchase pure raw honey, fresh tasty tomatoes and fresh carrots at a very cheap price.  Click here to see pictures from the Atlanta Farmer’s Market.  If you have a Farmer’s Market near your home make sure you invest your money in helping your local farmer.  If you do not have one then start up one with your local farmers.  You will not only help yourself but you will also help your community as well.

Touring the Atlanta Community Food Bank

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I was truly excited that I had the chance of touring the Atlanta Community Food Bank.  The Atlanta Community Food Bank has been founded in 1979 and it has procures over 45 million pounds of food and groceries each year and distributes it to more than 600 nonprofit partner agencies serving families and individuals in 29 metro Atlanta and north Georgia counties.  Here is some background information about the Atlanta Community Food Bank below:

Atlanta Community Food Bank utilizes more than 1,000 volunteers a month, over 100 staff members, a large fleet of trucks and a 129,000 square-foot facility to procure and distribute food and grocery items received from hundreds of donors. Our donors include manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, brokers, restaurants, food drives, gardens and individuals. The product is easily accessed by our partner agencies. They place their orders online and arrange for pick up or delivery. Once the food arrives at the agency, it is provided to families and individuals in need.

The mission of the Atlanta Community Food Bank is to fight hunger by engaging, educating and empowering our community. While our core work is food distribution, our efforts extend far beyond that. Our mission is lived out every day through seven projects that help engage, educate and empower both people in need and those who want to help. From supporting community gardens to assisting people in finding economic security, ACFB covers a wide range of opportunities for people to learn and get involved. Our seven projects are Atlanta Prosperity Campaign, Atlanta’s Table, Community Gardens, Hunger 101, Hunger Walk/Run, Kids In Need and Product Rescue Center.

ACFB’s Community Gardens project offers assistance to more than 100 new and existing gardens across metro Atlanta. Volunteers and neighbors come together to grow fresh, healthy food to nourish communities and neighborhoods.

The benefits of Community Gardening are boundless. It stimulates social interaction, beautifies neighborhoods and produces nutritious foods while reducing food budgets. Each garden is a joint effort where friends and neighbors not only share responsibilities, but often the rewards of their harvest as well!

Our tour guide of the Atlanta Community Food Bank (ACFB) was Linda Wood and she explained that the new building that the ACFB is in a green living building.  What I saw while begin there that everything was recycled including the outdated donated foods.   There is a machine that ACFB uses called the Digestor which uses special enzymes that break down the food like your own stomach but turns the food into recycle water for the whole building.  Now that is truly green living!!

ACFB also has a very much so up dated with technology that the food client recipients are able to purchase the food online and schedule a time for picking up their food.  Instead of waiting 2 hours they now wait for 15-20 minutes.  Starting in January 2014, ACFB will start a food ranking system in their warehouse where a color coded system will be used to help distribute healthy foods options to all the churches and centers that are involved in the ACFB program.  Currently, ACFB has no nutritional analysis system to let these organizations know which foods are healthy.  ACFB has hired a Registered Dietitian Consultant to assist with making this nutritional analysis system.

An interesting note that for the ACFB clients demands is not so much with food but the highest demand ticket item is Laundry Soap and Diapers!!  So if you want to donate food to the ACFB make sure you add in also these 2 high ticket items to your donation.

Alot of people think that the homeless population is the largest group who come to the ACFB to seek for assistance when it is actually the children who make up about 40% and working families who make up about 36%.  Below are some further statistics from the ACFB:

Over the past three years, the number of Georgia households receiving food stamps has increased by 62%. (Georgia DHR, 2012.)

More than one in every four Georgia children – 28.8% of our children – now live in food insecure households. This is up from 28.3% last year

Nearly 1.8 million Georgians (19.1%) are living in poverty according to the latest US Census Bureau American Community Survey.

In Georgia, the two largest groups that needs assistance is Children – 40% and the Working Poor.

I have really learned alot from this tour at the Atlanta Community Food Bank.  I encourage people to get involve with your community especially with the ACFB.  For more information about ACFB – http://www.acfb.org/

Click here for more photos at the Atlanta Community Food Bank.

Next week, I will discuss about the Atlanta Farmer’s Market.

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Celebrating Hispanic Food Heritage Month

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Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15th through October 16th which corresponds with Mexican Independence Day which was celebrated on September 16th.  This day recognizes the revolution in 1810 that ended Spanish dictatorship.  On September 15th day is when the formal signing of the Act of Independence of Central America in 1821 and in 1988 the US Congress decided to expanded the week of Hispanic Heritage Independence celebration to a full month.

Here in Georgia there was the 6th annual Fiesta Georgia which is Georgia’s Hispanic Heritage Month kick-off celebration, featuring a daylong celebration of Latino culture with continuous live musical performances from Mariachi bands, Mexican folk dancing, helicopter rides, games, youth soccer clinics, interactive sponsor displays with many free product samples, arts and crafts and authentic foods from several Latin-American countries.

Every region in the Latin-Americas countries have a different types of cuisines of foods.  In Mexico, there is Nopales which is prickly pear cactus paddles which are a good source of fiber and tend to be sauteed or boiled and consumed as a vegetable.  Also in Mexico, rice is typically eaten before the main course or the beans and chilies which is very common in  a variety of Mexican dishes  was first domesticated in Mexico.

In Central America, the diets of the people there share several commonalities although there can be variety of differences in preparations and ingredients that are used in the food.  The staples of the traditional diet are corn (maize), rice and beans (frijoles).  The most popular type of beans varies from country to country such as Guatemala where black beans are commonly used and in Costa Rica where the red or pinto beans are used in variety of dishes.

In South America, the climate,geography, religion and culture influence which foods are cultivated and served, and the cuisines of natives and colonizers have mingled to create different regional styles of dishes.  In southeastern Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay pasta dishes and pizza are common in the regions influenced by Italians.  Traditional meals include beans; rice; meat, chicken, pork or seafood, vegetables, fruits and desserts.

There are so much different foods and cultural influences style of dishes and cuisines through out the Latin American region that it would take me days to try to taste them all.  So make today a chance to learn more about the Latin/Hispanic heritage  and culture and celebrate with an amazing tasty cultural cuisine.

National Women In Ag. Association (“NWIAA”) in Greater Carroll County, Georgia

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As secretary for the Greater Carroll County, Georgia in the National Women in Agriculture Association, I had the pleasure of working a fantastic group of women on our first Outreach Meeting.   The National Women in Agriculture Association (NWIAA) is a empowering non-profit organization for socially disadvantaged women in rural and urban America in order for them to gain available local and federal resources.  Their purpose is to educate, develop and provide networking opportunities so that bonds of sisterhood may be created among all women.

The Greater Carroll Country, Georgia Chapter had its first Outreach Meeting at the Agricultural Center – Carroll County Cooperative Extensive Service.  The first speaker was Bill Hodge who had 26 years of Cooperative Extensive Service in Carroll County who discussed about the History and Present Time of Carroll County, Georgia Agriculture.  Carroll County had the first county agent in the United States and the 2nd highest number of small operating farm in the State of  Georgia.  The average size farm is 79 acres and the average age of age the farmer is 57.  After the presentation, Mr. Hodges then did a egg demonstration to show which eggs are farm fresh and which ones are not.  The darker yolk eggs are the true farm raised while the lighter color ones are not.  You should not go based on the shell’s color.

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Then Dr. Jerome Brown from Gwinnett County – USDA – Black Emphasis Program discuss about the history of NRCS and explained about the demographics of the Georgia.  Women in agriculture is increasing based on the 2007 census and 16% of the Georgia operators are females.   There is a Multicultural Sustainable Agriculture and Leadership Conference which is a outreach program workshops on agriculture every  year.  Dr. Brown discuss about the high tunnel initiative that is used mainly for the soil usage.  This initiative has implemented over 4,000 nationwide and the crops have to be grown in the ground.  The program is not competing with the green house industry and its purpose is to conserve water  consumption and soil erosion.  Dr. Brown explained that USDA has funds available on historically under served groups who are 10 years of less in business.  For further information about this program check here.

The National Women In Ag. Association (“NWIAA”) in Greater Carroll County, Georgia program was truly excellent and I had learned so much about agriculture.  Next time I will be visiting Jackson, Mississippi for the Annual National Conference  for NWIAA and I will definitely let everyone know what happens then!  Check  out the pictures of the NWIAA Greater Carroll County, Georgia Program.  Click Here.

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Georgia Organics – Cultural Farm Tours – Part 1

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I love Farm Tours, so when I heard that the Georgia Organics – Farm Rx 2013 Conference is having a cultural farm tour I definitely knew I had to go even though it was a very cold and rainy February morning!  The Global Growers Network is a local non-profit that works primarily with people who have been forced to flee their countries because of war and persecution.  Through a network of farms and gardens, many people who were farmers back home have an opportunity to share their traditional farming and local food practices with their new community  here in Georgia.

The first stop of the tour was the Umurima, The Burundi Women’s Farm, which began three years ago as a partnership with Global Growers founder Susan Pavlin and a community of Burundi farmers.  The Burundi women who fled the country of Burundi, an impoverished African nation, have been growing crops several years.   Once Burundi farmers came to Decatur, Georgia, they were at a loss as to how to make a living in a land of strip malls and fast-food restaurants.  When Susan Pavlin saw their plight, she then decide to find a little plot and worked out a deal with its owners to permit the families to farm there. Today, almost one acre is cultivated communally under the leadership of the Burundi women, who grow traditional East African crops as well as “American” produce for their families, the local markets, and the Global Growers’ Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.  There are 15 Burundi families that assist with the garden and they also make their own compost from green and brown matter.  It was great to speak with the Burundi women and hear how they did their own farming when they had lived in Burundi.  One story was during the start of making this garden was when the Founder Susan Pavlin was noticing that the Burundi women were not happy about some of the gardening tools that they were using for the garden.  One of the women request a hoe that would make it easier for cultivating the soil and kill the weeds.  So Pavlin found a gardening hoe and gave it to the women.  The women were mad and stated that this was not a gardening hoe.  Pavlin thought there was a lost of translation and repeated that this is a gardening hoe.  Her interpreter notice that Pavlin did not understand and started to explain and show what a Burundi hoe looks like.  Here is the picture below to see the different garden hoe tools:

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Well, Palvin was in shock at what she saw and knew that there is no way that she can find something like this that was being sold here in the United States.  First the ladies was interested in getting someone to go the Burundi and purchase this very sharp blade flat hoe and bring it back in an airplane.  Well, TSA would definitely not like this.  So the women decided to make their own hoe and had a blacksmith make their own blade.  They were so happy that now other fellow gardeners are requesting to buy.  Hey this may be a new business venture for them.

Having the chance to visit this farm, I really learned to appreciate what these women do for their community and what I can do for my own.   Next week, I will discuss my second Farm Tour at the Decatur’s Kitchen Garden.  Click here for viewing the  Umurima, The Burundi Women’s Farm pictures.

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Junior Master Gardeners Program

Living here in Georgia the growing season is a whole alot longer but it can get pretty cold during the December through February months.   Being part of the Junior Master Gardeners Program, we were able to plant  – lettuce, cabbage, etc. for the winter time.  But how can we keep these plants warm for the cold winter?  We were able to make mini hoop houses for each raised beds.  But how can you make one?

It is very easy to make a mini hoop house garden.  First you get some one-inch PVC plumbing pipe then we simply sticking one end of a six-foot length of pipe into the soil at one side of the bed and bending it over, sticking it into the soil at the opposite side. Then put a pipe approximately every foot across the length of the garden bed. This will hold up your plastic and make sure you use  a nice, heavy gauge plastic drop cloth.  You will need to keep every plant watered .  After you have your pipe framework in place, drape your plastic drop cloth over it. The best way to secure the plastic is to weigh it down with heavy stones or bricks on each side.  The hoop house will keep excessive rain off the plants, blocks the wind, raises daytime temperatures 5-10 degrees and it keeps frosts and heavy dew off the leaves.

During hot days, feel free to uncover your garden to let plants soak in some extra rays. Make sure you button everything up before night since a warm day usually means a cold night in the winter.

If you live in the Atlanta, Georgia area and would like to learn more about the school/community nutrition gardening program click to our website Living Healthy

If you like to see a video on this check out on the Living Healthy Show site on how our First Lady is doing a hoop house for her plants at the White House Garden.  Click here.

Also see the picture of the Junior Master Gardeners new Christmas Tree below:

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2012 Food Day Celebration

This passed October 24th , 2012 was Food Day which is a nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food.   I was able to teach  a family healthy mealtime eating class for a local Food Pantry for Food Day which was truly a enjoyable event.

Food Day, was created by Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), is powered by a diverse coalition of food movement leaders, organizations, and people from all walks of life.  This event takes place annually on October 24  and it’s purpose to address issues as varied as health and nutrition, hunger, agricultural policy, animal welfare, and farm worker justice. The CSPI ultimate goal of Food Day is to strengthen and unify the food movement in order to improve our nation’s food policies. Over Thousands of Americans came together for over 3,200 events this year alone.

In honor of food day there is a wonderful and very educational online movie documentary called ” The Future of Food ” which expires on Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 so check out this site very quickly this weekend.    Here is the link for it:  http://vimeo.com/52123154    Also here is  information about the online movie documentary below:

 The Future of Food has been a key tool in the American and international anti-GMO grassroots activist movements and played widely in the environmental and activist circuits since its release in 2004. The film is widely acknowledged for its role in educating voters and the subsequent success of passing Measure H in Mendocino County, California, one of the first local initiatives in the country to ban the planting of GMO crops. Indicative of its popularity, the Future of Food showed to a sold out audience of 1,500 at the Castro Theater in San Francisco in 2004, a benefit for Slow Food, where it was introduced by Alice Waters.

Also for those who live in Georgia and can get access of Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB/PBS) there is a excellent reality television show series called “The Weigh We Were” .  If you do not have access to Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB/PBS), you can access the show online on the website which is: http://theweighwewere.com/category/tv-show  and the first show will be posted on Tuesday October 30th at 9:35PM Eastern.  Here is further information about this wonderful show.

This show offers a refreshing and successful approach for highlighting ‘real world’ weight loss strategies.  Coupling an upbeat, positive narrative, and more than 30 weight loss success stories from an wide spectrum of Georgia residents (who lost a combined 3,472 pounds – on their own) the program successfully explores multiple, and realistic approaches to weight loss – surprisingly simple approaches, which are both accessible and repeatable by the average viewer.
So this weekend learn more about nutrition and wellness by checking out these websites and next year plan to participate Food Day!
Let me know your comments and opinions about The Future of Food  movie and “The Weigh We Were”  television show!  Enjoy!!