Friday, April 9, 2010

Washington College Focuses on Local Food, Nutrition in Celebrating "Earth Day" 2010

CHESTERTOWN – Washington College will mark Earth Day 2010 on Thursday, April 22, by celebrating local food sources with a mid-day farmer’s market on campus, a lunch menu based on ingredients from area growers, and a documentary film about an activist mom’s efforts to improve school lunches. The following evening, Friday, April 23 at 7 p.m., in Hynson Lounge, Hodson Hall, journalist Sally Fallon Morrell, author of Nourishing Traditions, will discuss the dangers of low-fat processed foods and the benefits of natural food sources.

Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., vendor tables along the Cater Walk (the brick thoroughfare that runs in front of the new Hodson Hall Commons) will sell vegetables, flowers, herbs and meats. In the new dining hall inside the Commons, which is open to the public, Chef Kent Tilton’s lunchtime menu will be designed around locally sourced ingredients. The offerings will include salad greens from Chesapeake Greenhouse, asparagus from Godfrey’s Farm, and bacon from Cedar Run Farm—all three located in Sudlersville—plus grass-fed beef from St. Brigid’s Farm in Kennedyville, Bay Blue cheese (Maryland’s first raw-milk cheese) from Chapel’s Country Creamery in Easton, and oysters harvested from the Chesapeake Bay. Donna Dhue, the Director of Dining Services at Washington College, also hopes to have local tomatoes, honey, and herbs on her menus, depending on vendor availability that day.

Also inside the Commons, in the first-floor performance space known as “The Egg,” the documentary Two Angry Moms will be playing continuously from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Presented by the Department of Anthropology, the 2007 film follows nutrition crusader Susan Rubin, founder of Better School Food, as she fights to put healthier options onto school lunch trays.

Dhue says the message behind the day’s events reflects that of the broader “locavore” movement, which encourages consumers to buy fresh foods closer to home. Buying locally provides fresher, more flavorful foods, supports farmers and small businesses in the community, and reduces the cost and pollution of transporting foods long distances. Dhue hopes the Earth Day offerings will increase students’ awareness of how consumer choices affect local land use and the environment. “I also want this to be a fun day for students, staff, faculty and the greater Chestertown community to come enjoy some great food from local growers,” she adds. “And to learn more about how food choices impact the health of the individual and the community.”

Friday night’s speaker, Sally Fallon Morrell, is an outspoken critic of the food-processing industry who views “low-fat propaganda” as a conspiracy to enrich businesses at the expense of Americans’ health and vitality. She decries the overuse of refined carbohydrates and oils derived from corn and soybeans and calls for a return to organic farming, pasture-fed livestock and whole foods.

Fallon and her research colleague, Mary G. Enig, Ph.D., an expert on lipids, defend animal fats and cholesterol as vital factors in the human diet. They also stress the value of traditional broths and age-old methods of preserving and cooking foods. Presented by the Anthropology Department, the lecture is free and open to the public.

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