Sunday, June 13, 2010

Farm to Table: Finger Lakes - wellness and health, done local

It makes sense that last weekend’s Farm to Table Finger Lakes event was produced by Pathways to SmartCare: “Make Smart Choices.” Eating fresh, local foods, keeping food dollars local … promoting wellness through healthy choices … it all came together last weekend through regionally produced foods and service providers. Here’s how it unfolded.

The Friday night wine and cheese tasting was full of fun and energy. I got to say hello to the folks of Muranda Cheese (I just love their roasted garlic Cheddar; and bless their hearts, they remembered me from my visit during the cheese trail open house!). Finger Lakes Dexter Creamery was also present and accounted for, with their incredible kefir cheeses … including an Ooey Gooey Bleu that just blew me away. J.J. from Red Jacket Orchards served up sample after sample of incredible 100% fruit juice.

That's not all there was, though. Such delights as grape pie (a renowned local treat that I wish more people could experience) and Mercer Dairy’s award-winning wine ice cream (peach white zinfandel, red raspberry chardonnay and cherry merlot, if I remember correctly) bowled me over, and John was ever so tolerant of my ooohs and ahhhhs at his booth.

The raw food treats whipped up by Roxanne Gupta, Ph.D. and certified Hippocrates Health Educator, and Sue Petersen, M.S.A.C.N. and applied clinical nutritionist, demonstrated that raw smoothies and cookies can be delicious and oh-so good for you. (They’re presenting a Raw Energy: Jump Start Your Life with Raw and Vegan Foods weekend retreat July 16 – 18 at Cayuga Sunrise, a yoga bed and breakfast retreat that features gourmet vegan, raw and vegetarian cuisine in a 200-year-old country estate on 80 acres overlooking Cayuga Lake.)

And the wine!

The gentleman from Bilsboro Winery ever so patiently walked me through a Pinot Noir, a Riesling and a Cabernet Franc – sweet to dry – and my eyes were opened! Five or so other wineries further represented the Finger Lakes region with a broad selection of varieties. Many thanks to the good folks at Ventosa Vineyards, Zugibe Vineyards, Knapp Winery, Eleven Lakes Winery and Glenora Wine Cellars for the opportunity to explore their fine wines. (Ventosa's Tocai Friulano was exquisite.)

I got a late start to Saturday thanks to a headache that just wouldn’t quit (nooo, not a hangover - just exhaustion from a schedule that just won't quit), so I regretfully missed the talk on CSAs that I’d really wanted to hear. When I finally made it, I saw that the scene was completely different from what it had been the night before. Wellness had become the theme.

I was so engrossed in learning about essential oils from Seneca Falls-based Dr. Rebecca VonBergen, the whole-food nutritional supplements of Standard Process, Animal Welfare Approved (which, incidentally, applies to Finger Lakes Dexter Creamery), Finger Lakes Culinary Bounty and the amazing dinner that is held once a year (I do NOT want to miss it this year) … and so much more … that I missed the talks on “The history, nutrition and health of chocolate,” “You’re the customer,” “Utilizing local products,” “Empowering wellness: Secrets for a long and lusty life” and “Farm to school: Healthy kids, healthy farms, healthy communities.” I was delighted to find Keeley’s Cheese Co. and chat with Keeley’s mom while tasting their mild, fruity “stinky cheese.” My husband loved the chunk I brought home :)

I was given an incredible amount of information on all sorts of subjects, including the Weston A. Price Foundation. I’d never heard of it but what I learned made it worth investigating further. I learned so much in just one weekend, and I have lots yet to learn. My education promises to be a delicious and healthy one!