Food Day highlights sustainable food access

The Geneseo community joined in the celebration of the nationwide Food Day 2013 on Oct. 24 in order to highlight a culture of healthy, sustainable nutrition. In recognition of this occasion, Think Local Geneseo hosted speakers and advocates from Livingston County to share their knowledge about healthy, environmentally conscious lifestyles.

Notable speakers included Elizabeth Henderson, author of Sharing the Harvest: A Citizen's Guide to Community Supported Agriculture, and Lisa Beardsley, senior public health educator of the Livingston County Department of Health.

“If you're looking for a farm, you can find one in this area,” Henderson said. She has over 25 years of organic farming experience. Her book describes the necessary relationship between the local farmer and consumer to create an effective use of the local food supply. She gave advice to students on her own techniques for organic farming, which included rotating crops to avoid soil depletion.

“We have really rich microbiology,” she said. She addressed her avoidance of pesticides and other chemicals to allow natural growth throughout her farming.

“We have been able to keep it up for 25 years just because of the extra labor just from people wanting to learn,” Henderson said, stressing the importance of participation and engagement from the young adult community.

Beardsley focused more on health-related issues within Livingston County.

“I don't have a green thumb, and I'm not very good at farming,” she said, shifting into the recent development in the Livingston County Department of Health. She highlighted the New York State Department of Health's Prevention Agenda for 2013, which includes prevention of diseases and promotion for healthy lifestyles.

“Every five years we have to go through the Community Health Assessment,” Beardsley said. According to the results of the last assessment, Livingston County ranks as the number one healthiest community in New York State. Both the prevention agenda and the assessment play important roles in the Department of Health.

“The goal of this is to make our community healthier,” Beardsley said.

In addition to these experienced speakers, the Geneseo Environmental Organization and Campus Auxiliary Services presented the film Forks Over Knives in contribution to the Food Day festivities.

“Food Day is a national celebration of local, sustainable, and healthy food options,” GEO Student Association Representative junior Molly Ennist said. “We have a really big interest in sustainable food. Food is a huge part of the environmental crisis. It has a huge impact.”

“As a consumer, if you choose to eat local and sustainable choices that are in season, it really reduces the carbon footprint,” she said.

The video focused mainly on the influence of food on human health, specifically promoting a plant-based diet and discouraging processed foods and meats. It detailed the American epidemic rates of obesity and disease due to improper food consumption.

Food Day is an annual nationwide grassroots effort to support sustainable, healthy and affordable food consumption.