I am still riding the “high” I get, after pulling off a successful, fun filled event! Slow Food North Shore’s 4th Annual Long Island Food and Film Feast was this past Sunday evening at the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington, and it was another high energy, sold out, educational and delicious affair! Starting from the moment guests arrived, they were greeted with films, speakers, organic wine and a delectable, five course vegan dinner, that made everyone happy! Each film brought up an important topic for discussion, and there were speakers on hand for each film, to lead the discussion and Q & A. The first film, Deeply Rooted, highlighted the loss of biodiversity in our food system, and shared the story of John Coykendall’s journey to save as many varieties of seeds as he can. We had Courtney Pure from the LI Regional Seed Consortium join us, to talk about the work they are doing to preserve seeds, and we served a soup made from LI Cheese Pumpkin, which is a heirloom variety of pumpkin that is a part of the Slow Food “Ark of Taste” Campaign.
The next two films brought up the issue of hydroponic farming vs organic farming, and whether or not hydroponic vegetables should be allowed to be labeled as “organic”. We had a lively discussion with both farmers, Jon Bernard from Square Root Hydroponic Farm, and Ray Wellen from Green Thumb Organic Farm. Everyone participated in a taste test, to see if they could taste the difference between the organic salad and the hydroponic salad, and it was about a 50-50 split, but I do think we agreed that there should be a separate label for hydroponic. It was a lot of fun!
A very powerful film we screened was called ‘Home Flavored‘, which highlighted the unfair practice of the food industry targeting the Latino communities, to ingrain in them, the need to consume and serve sugary sodas and unhealthy snacks to their family and guests in order to be good hosts. We were joined by Dr. Howard Hinestroza, who has experienced first hand, in his pediatric practice, the rise of the obesity and diabetes epidemic in children and adolescents in the Latino population. We discussed the many avenues of marketing that the food industry has at their disposal, and how difficult it is as parents, to limit their exposure. It is no longer just TV ads, it is the cell phone, on-line games, social media sites and packaging. Babies starting as young as 6 months old can recognize branding! If we want to see a change, we need to push for regulations to limit the targeting of junk food marketing to children! We served Black Bean and Corn Tamales with Rice and a Chipotle Sauce, in honor of some healthy Latino food!
The next film was called, ‘Everybody Eats’, which introduced the concept of a “pay what you can” restaurant, and how the idea is taking off. Rosemarie McCarthy, who has been trying to get her “pay what you can” restaurant, Harmony Cafe, off the ground in Patchogue, was there to talk about her vision and dream of finding a permanent home for her cafe. We served a Quinoa Vegetable Paella with Saffron, to compliment the food from that film!
‘Saving Sap’, a film about the decline of the Sugar Maple Tree was our next film, and it brought to light the future of maple syrup as we know it! Sheryl Brook, from Hoyt Farm in Smithtown, was there with samples of their freshly harvested, local, maple syrup for all to try! We made our much loved, GF, vegan, Raspberry Linzer Tarts, sweetened with maple syrup for dessert, and everyone loved them! We had a second dessert to go along with the next film, and those brave enough to try them thought they were pretty good too. The film is called , ‘The Gateway Bug‘, and it introduces the concept of eating bugs, specifically crickets, as a more sustainable protein source than meat or poultry, and how bugs are loved in many cultures around the world. The film makers, Johanna Kelly and Cameron Marshad were able to join us, and add some more insight into the idea of eating bugs, and we served an assortment of Bitty cookies that were made with cricket flour!
Our last two films, Orkestai Farm, and Elijah Farm, are both films about programs right here on Long Island, using farming as a tool and life skill, in working with autistic young adults. Both films were so inspiring, and Alethea Vasilas from Orkestai Farm, and Dylan Licopoli from Elijah Farm, shared their stories and answered questions from the audience. As always, the evening flowed from one film to another, sparked all of our senses, and left us with a desire to do it all again, very soon!
My guest this week on the Progressive Radio Network is Paul Gallay, the President of Riverkeeper, a non profit organization committed to protecting the Hudson River and the drinking water supplies for nine million New Yorker’s! Paul is an attorney and educator, and has dedicated himself to the environmental movement since 1987, when he left the private practice of law and went to work for the New York State Attorney General. In 1990, Paul began a ten-year stint at New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation, where he brought hundreds of corporate and government polluters to justice. Paul subsequently spent a decade in the land conservation movement before becoming Riverkeeper’s President in 2010. Paul is a graduate of Williams College and Columbia Law School and has held a number of teaching positions, including his current appointment with The Beacon Institute/Clarkson University. Please join me on Thursday to learn more about the organization, Riverkeeper, and to find out what you can do to support the work they are doing.
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With love and gratitude,