RALEIGH – A food exhibit at the 2017 North Carolina State Fair offers up a serving of education about food production to visitors.
The Field of Dreams exhibit, funded by the North Carolina Dept. of Agriculture, has a closed loop path that children can take, aided by a worksheet of crops that can be found in each section. The sections – Taco Town, Subs & Spuds, Gobble Garden, and Pizza Patch – each has the crops needed to make each kid-friendly dish. Crops growing onsite include tomatoes, garlic, onions, corn and basil among others.
“We know that poor nutrition causes all kinds of health problems including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease,” said Kay Coleman, urban gardens manager for the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle in Durham, NC. “Increased obesity can lead to all kinds of problems. Helping people get good fresh food helps improve health in a community.”
The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle partners with more than 200 organizations in the Triangle area to provide fresh produce and meats to local food pantries for immediate consumption. The group also administers education programs aimed at teaching people to garden and cook and provides meals to schoolchildren through Backpack Buddies for dozens of schools throughout the region.
Marianne Weant, who has served the director of health programs for the North Carolina Parent Teacher Association (NCPTA) since 2010, said a comprehensive health and wellness policy can aid in helping stave off nutrition-related illnesses and absences.
“It’s a process,” she said. “It’s about exposure. Kids need to see, touch, and taste new foods. If there are opportunities for children to see fresh produce, they will begin over time to see eating those foods as good choices.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics suggest that “40% of daily calories for children and adolescents” comes from so-called “empty calories,” primarily soft drinks and junk food that do not provide nutritional value. These calories contribute to a number of health problems, such as higher rates of cancer, high blood pressure and osteoporosis.
I'm a recovering journalist now living a Renaissance life working as a writer & political strategist. I also am the mom to 2 children, one of whom has autonomic dysfunction & Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder, I write about politics and healthcare in North Carolina.