Farm-to-Table Nutrition Education: Get Inspired!

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Harvest of Hope: A Day at the Farm brought a community together to learn about the connection between agriculture and healthy eating. Find out how the event came together in this three-part series about how you can encourage healthful, cancer-fighting eating in your community.

There’s something so inspiring when a shared passion brings a community together. And when that passion takes the form of nutrition education to encourage people to eat local, sustainable foods that support optimal health and cancer prevention, it’s especially powerful. This is Harvest of Hope: A Day at the Farm.

Last summer, more than 340 people gathered in the small agricultural town of Hughson in California’s Central Valley for the second annual Harvest of Hope—a day of hands-on nutrition education workshops focused on farm-to-fork practices led by dietitians, farmers, garden experts, and a professional chef. The first Harvest of Hope event, which shared this same model, was a true success (read more here). For the second annual event, experts showed guests how to grow and prepare seasonal fruits and vegetables—all on a working farm—making it a true farm-to-table nutrition education experience. At day’s end, all came together to enjoy the fruits of the day: a farm-fresh, plant-based meal eaten outdoors together as a community, highlighting the connection between the land and healthful eating.

Harvest of Hope: A Day at the Farm.

Making Connections

I was thrilled to once again be a part of the team that organized this community nutrition education event, sponsored and led by Cheryl Casey, community outreach coordinator at Memorial Medical Center in Modesto. Our guests were thrilled too! The community response was even better than we could have imagined, as everyone was so eager and enthusiastic to learn how to include more cancer-preventing seasonal plant foods in their diets. When those plant foods are grown in our community—even in our own backyards—the connection to nourishing our bodies and our souls with local, health-promoting foods is much more meaningful.

We all benefit from sharing nourishing food with others, from the harvest to the preparation to the satisfying enjoyment. This year’s Harvest of Hope engaged people to think a bit more about the health-promoting, healing power of food and shared meals, including some of those who were involved with the event organization.

“The farm-to-fork experience shapes who we are, what we value and how we build deep, lifelong relationships with both food and each other,” says Lori Spears, RD, CSR, a dietitian at Satellite Dialysis in Modesto and Harvest of Hope volunteer. “The sharing and caring of the mealtime rituals ultimately brings peace, joy and well-being to our hearts.”

“Food nurtures,” says Ann Endsley, owner of Modesto restaurant, catering company Greens and contributor to Harvest of Hope. “Sharing a meal around the table is all about nurturing our bodies, souls, minds and hearts.” Certainly, preparing healthy and great tasting food is a loving gesture, she explains, “But it’s the sharing of that food with all who gather that lifts our hearts, minds and bodies in a fundamental way.”

Home gardening education provided by Westurf Nursery, Center Valley Sustainability, and New Mettle Farms at Harvest of Hope.

A Fit for Your Community

Wouldn’t it be great to bring farm-to-table nutrition education to your own community? If you are a health professional, community leader, hospital administrator, or simply a passionate advocate for health, good food, and sustainability, you can bring a farm-based health and wellness event to your own region. It’s a powerful way to connect people and help fight cancer. Read about the Harvest of Hope event here to learn how our team made it happen and find inspiration to do the same in your own community.

Look for our next blog that will share more information about how to plan a farm-to-table nutrition education in your own community in this three-part series.

Here’s a great plant-based recipe, which showcases seasonal, local produce, that you can include in your nutrition education event.

Ratatouille with White Beans

Bursting with colorful vegetables and fiber-rich pulses, this recipe would work well to educate the community about healthy, plant-based eating.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced
  • 1 small eggplant, sliced
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes (may use 2 cups fresh, chopped tomatoes)
  • 1 15-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed well (or 2 cups cooked)
  • 1/2 cup olives, drained
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped or dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • Salt to taste (optional)
  • Pepper to taste

Directions:

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil. Add garlic, onion, zucchini, and eggplant, and sauté for about 8 minutes.

  1. Add tomatoes, white beans, olives, and oregano, stir well, and cover. Continue to cook for about 10 minutes (longer if using fresh tomatoes), stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, and mixture is thick and bubbly.
  2. Season with salt (optional) and pepper to taste. Garnish with pine nuts.

Serving Size: 4 servings

Nutrition Information per Serving: Calories: 165, Sugar: 3.5 g, Sodium: 192 mg, Fat: 10 g, Saturated Fat: 1 g, Carbohydrates: 18 g, Fiber: 7 g, Protein: 5 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg

Recipe by Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN, The Plant-Powered Dietitian, SharonPalmer.com

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Author: Sharon Palmer

Sharon Palmer, RDN, The Plant-Powered Dietitian™, is an award-winning food and nutrition expert, journalist, and editor. She is author of The Plant-Powered Diet: The Lifelong Eating Plan for Achieving Health, Beginning Today (The Experiment, 2012) and Plant-Powered for Life: Eat Your Way to Lasting Health with 52 Simple Steps & 125 Delicious Recipes (The Experiment, 2014). Sharon also is editor of Environmental Nutrition, nutrition editor of Today’s Dietitian, blogger for The Plant-Powered Blog, and publisher of her monthly The Plant-Powered Newsletter. Living in the chaparral hills overlooking Los Angeles with her husband and two sons, Sharon enjoys visiting her local farmers market, gardening, and cooking for friends and family.

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