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Food Symposium to Highlight 'Eat Healthy/Grow Responsibly'

April Event to Bring Presenters and Art Exhibit to Campus

March 16, 2010

Presenters include, clockwise from top right, film maker Aaron Woolf, modern farming expert Dennis Avery, master chef Martin Yan, and a photo exhibit,

Presenters include, clockwise from top right, film maker Aaron Woolf, modern farming expert Dennis Avery, master chef Martin Yan, and a photo exhibit, "What the World Eats,” featuring pieces from acclaimed photojournalist Peter Menzel's book, "The Hungry Planet."

Hearkening the College’s heritage in agriculture and the current Grow Food, Grow Hope initiative, WC is sponsoring a food symposium April 22 titled “Food and Farming for the Future: Eat Healthy/Grow Responsibly.”

The program — purposely scheduled to coincide with Earth Day — will feature several presenters on such topics as Earth-friendly methods of food production, fresh and green food alternatives, and feeding the world’s growing population sustainably.

One of the symposium organizers, Donald Chafin, professor of agriculture, said people’s attention is more focused on food consumption and agricultural production that at any time in recent memory.

“Seeing Michelle Obama in her vegetable garden and the media coverage of Wilmington College’s Grow Food, Grow Hope initiative, there is a great interest growing responsibly and eating healthy,” he said. “And Earth Day is a great time to think about these issues.”

The day will feature a photography exhibit, as well as three presenters and several complementary exhibits.

The photo exhibit, "What the World Eats,” features pieces from acclaimed photojournalist Peter Menzel's book, The Hungry Planet. His epic work of photojournalism features dinner tables from around the world.

It has been scheduled from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Harcum Art Gallery in the Boyd Cultural Arts Center.

At 1 p.m., film maker Aaron Woolf, producer/director of King Corn, will speak on "Nudge Our Food System in a Different Direction" in Heiland Theatre. King Corn chronicles two college friends' attempt to examine the role that the increasing production of corn has for American society, including its impact on the family farm.

Martin Yan, a James Beard Award-winning master chef, will present a "Garden Fresh Chinese Cuisine" cooking demonstration at 2:30 p.m. in the Kelly Center. The celebrated host of more than 1,500 cooking shows will emphasize healthy eating practices.

Those wishing to stay on campus for dinner can eat Chinese food with chopsticks in the Student Dining Hall in Pyle Center.

The day's programs will conclude at 7:30 p.m. in Heiland Theatre with Dennis Avery from the Hudson Institute Center for Global Food Issues speaking on "Feeding the Future Sustainably." He is the nation's leading spokesman for the modern farming systems that provide more food from fewer acres. Avery is the author of the book Saving the Planet with Pesticides and Plastic.

Other exhibits include displays of presenters' books, ethnic grocers, the local Grow Food Grow Hope initiative and cooking utensils from around the world.

Monte Anderson, professor of agriculture, said it is especially appropriate for the College to hold a food symposium, as WC has had a prominent agriculture program for more than 60 years and Clinton County has always been a strong farming community.

“We as a society are becoming more aware of natural resources,” he said. “We have not only affordable but high quality, nutritious food produced in Ohio. This symposium will help consumers have the knowledge to make the right choices.”

James Reynolds, vice president for academic affairs, said the food symposium — as with the College’s long-running Westheimer Peace Symposium — is “in concert” with WC’s core values of peace and social justice.

“Both symposia view access to information and practical applications of the information as ways to educate people on how they may practice peace and social justice in their own lives,” he said, noting that healthy food is a component of social justice.

“Taking care of those less fortunate than us and helping them to learn how to provide food to their own tables through their own work is a liberating idea and ties in very nicely with our value of civic engagement.”

Gov. Ted Strickland’s recent State of the State address further validates the College’s focus on food and interest in getting Ohio-grown and raised foods onto the dinner tables of Ohio families.

He noted Ohioans spend about $43 billion every year on food, yet only 3 percent of that spending goes to products from Ohio farms.

Strickland announced the Ohio Neighborhood Harvest, the “largest effort of its kind” ever undertaken to map access to healthy and locally grown food.

“A statewide strategy is being designed to improve access to Ohio-grown products and ensure that people in every neighborhood in Ohio have access to affordable healthy food,” he said. “Because there shouldn’t be any neighborhood in Ohio where the only vegetable for sale is the pickle on a fast-food hamburger.”

Not only is access to affordable nutritious food important to Ohioans, Strickland said it is a matter of national security.

“There is nothing more important we could do for the security and sustainability of our nation than base our economy on the output of Midwestern farmers instead of Middle Eastern oil barons,” he said in noting the potential impact of Ohio taking a leadership role in a bio-refinery industry that converts farm output into food, fuel and biopolymers.

“With our agricultural output, our know-how and our location, we are sitting on a treasure and we will do everything in our power to tap into it.”

The symposium is being held in conjunction with local Earth Day events, including WC’s annual Quake Day for Community Service.