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COURT HOUSE - The weather cooperated with a beautiful fall day as Cape May County freeholders and Rutgers Cooperative Extension celebrated Food Day 2015 Oct. 9 at the Rutgers complex adjacent to the 4-H fair grounds in Court House. Food Day is part of a national movement emphasizing healthy eating, sustainable farming, protection of animals and the environment.

Coming in from the parking area, visitors were first greeted by clotheslines full of drawings by county third and fourth graders illustrating the day’s theme of a healthy lifestyle. Vendors and organizations took up the challenge with displays of produce and locally-made food items meant to tempt and demonstrate that healthy eating need not be boring.

Andy’s Countryside Farm offered a wide variety of local produce while Anita’s Guacamole sold its namesake product as well as delicious salsas. The tomato salsa had enough kick to be memorable. Visitors could taste and purchase local honey, jams and baked goods made with organic ingredients.

For those seeking to have lunch while touring booths, Crespella’s Gourmet Creperie offered both savory and sweet crepes, like hickory ham with swiss and asiago cheese, or banana with Nutella. Next door, Green Street Market tempted with vegan three-bean chili or fall squash soup. All recipes adhered to the day’s theme, “It’s Time to Eat Real.”

Education was also a priority for the day. A series of lectures was offered ranging from how to grow peppers to canning. Chef John McCulley, of Coastal Blue Restaurant was also on hand to offer a cooking demonstration. Linda Conover, a master gardener, shared the secrets of the right soil in gardening to produce healthy plants.

A number of tables and booths focused on educating the public on matters related to the environmental and health-oriented themes of the day. The community food bank was on hand to inform the public about problems of hunger in the county and to encourage the giving of non-perishables and volunteering at one of its locations.

The county MUA was also present with facts and brochures on water reuse, a program that reclaims wastewater through specialized treatment that allows the water to be reused for beneficial purposes, like landscape irrigation. In the county, reclaimed water is used for a large number of appropriate uses including irrigation of the recreational fields at Clarence Davies Sports Complex in Court House, and even fighting fires. Purple fire hydrants in the county carry reclaimed water and are uniquely colored to differentiate them from hydrants with potable water.

All the variety only served to hone the basic message – eating healthy benefits the individual and the environment. The campaign to “Eat Real” aims to reduce diet-related disease as well as protect the environment and animals. Promoting and celebrating a green and healthy diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains was the mission of the day.

To contact Vince Conti, email vconti@cmcherald.com.

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