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Greening My Plate Month focuses on local, healthy food

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The Appalachian Online

Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture are bringing Greening My Plate Month to Boone for the second time with free events that serve to entertain, celebrate spring and educate the community about the importance of eating and buying fresh, local food.

Greening My Plate was started last year by Margie Mansure, consumer sciences agent at Watauga County Cooperative Extension, and took place over the course of a week with over a dozen events.

Suzanne Fleishman, program coordinator at BRWIA, said Mansure started the event last year after noting that many organizations in Watauga County were focusing on healthy eating and local foods, but there wasn’t an event where they could all come together.

“She decided to create a group that would plan this big kick-off leading up to the opening of the Farmer’s Market to highlight growing season and healthy eating,” Fleishman said.

Due to the success of the community’s interest and involvement, BRWIA extended their efforts to a month long series of events. With 20 organizations involved and 30 events all leading up to the Farmer’s Market opening day, Greening My Plate Month will be March 29 through May 2.

“We’re really trying to reach the entire community,” Fleishman said. “The purpose of bringing all these organizations together is that everyone has kind of their own audience and by forming a coalition, we can target the community as a whole.”

Almost all events are free. Events vary from cooking classes and demos to volunteer work at various local organizations to live entertainment and film screenings.

“Greening My Plate is growing into a local campaign which supports the work of health care providers, local growers and families trying to make good food choices,” said Susan Miller, secretary of the board of directors at PHARMN, or Preserve Heritage Agriculture & Regional Markets Now. “Like many such community-based efforts, it takes time to be heard in the community.”

PHARMN will be participating at Greening My Plate for its second year. The organization is a non-profit, which administers agricultural grants for local organizations and operates the Kids’ Corner at the Watauga County Farmers Market during its season of May through October each year.

Miller said she is serving in the Greening My Plate committee for the second time. Just as last year, PHARMN will provide a Greening My Plate activity on opening day of the Farmer’s Market with the Wheel of Green, where children spin a wheel decorated with vegetables and have to eat the fresh vegetable wherever the wheel stops.

“Aside from providing nutrients essential to life, fresh food supports health and helps our kids develop physically,” Miller said “Educating the community to the benefits of consuming food that is not processed in a factory is important, because it’s better for us to eat foods prepared at home, with local ingredients and without the vast amounts of salt, sugar and preservatives often found in processed foods.”

In addition, Miller said support for local food is important in order to support the local economy and because it’s healthier and fresher, since the food does not have to travel days in a truck from hundreds or even thousands of miles away, losing its nutritional value during transport.

“The local food movement has been growing nationally,” Miller said, “and is causing a heightened awareness of the importance of fresh and local, along with exercise, in order to maintain a healthy life.”

Story: Chamian Cruz, News Reporter

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