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The "Real Food" Connection

An event to connect local foods with local folks.
Chad Pooschke greets a dairy cow on Kvam Family Farm
Published on March 11, 2010 : 9 comments

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Do you know where your food comes from? Would you like to start eating more local foods but don’t know where to start? Are you overwhelmed by all of the new catch phrases on food labels, such as “free-range,” “grass-fed,” and “chemical-free?"

You’re probably wondering if these labels really matter, or if it’s just a bunch of hype that drives up cost. Is it worth the extra money and effort for these local foods?

Perhaps you’re just starting to realize that you’d prefer foods that are grown in nature over those that are invented in a lab? Or maybe you’re new to town and looking for purveyors of the kinds of food you already value?

Slow Food Omaha to the Rescue!

Slow Food Omaha has planned the perfect event for you! On Sunday, March 21st, they are hosting The Real Food Connection—an event promoting and celebrating foods grown in greater Omaha.

There are ever-increasing local food options here, but it’s often difficult for people to find the information. Come to this event and discover the many local growers, artisans, purveyors, chefs, and farmer’s markets available in the area.

Event Details

Date: Sunday, March 21st
Time: 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. 
Location: Douglas County Extension (8015 West Center Road –Omaha)
Admission: $5.00 per person (cash or checks only)

Registered Vendors

Those marked with an (*) will be giving a presentation:

You’ll learn what each can provide for the locavore looking for flavorful food that also reflects the region and treads lightly on the earth. These folks will be on hand for three hours with the sole purpose of answering any questions you may have!

This is a laid-back, casual event with an “open house” atmosphere. So come on by to mingle, meet and learn! Several of the “vendors” will also be speaking at the event for those of you who’d like to gather information in a more “formal” manner. And for you “hands-on” learners, there’ll be samples to enjoy, as well!

(Bribery?  I’m not above it.)

If I Can Eat REAL Foods, So Can You!

While it may seem overwhelming at first, it is entirely possible to make a fresh start with how you eat and to distance yourself from the processed garbage you may currently be used to (or, in many cases, be addicted to). Perhaps my story will provide some perspective?

(Well, either way, you’re gettin’ it…)

Less than three years ago, my husband and I had a very different diet than we do today. If you’d told me back then that I would someday be writing a fresh foods column for a local website, visiting farms on my days off, and operating an online community to help folks reduce their reliance on processed foods, I would’ve told you to get lost!

I knew nothing about cooking three years ago (we all agree that Hamburger Helper doesn’t count, right?), but I thought I was eating healthfully. After all, I was paying attention to labels—I knew to limit my calories and fat, to watch out for too many bad carbs and trans-fats, and that sugar and sodium were not the best things for you. (Oh…and I only drank diet pop. Do I get extra points for that?)

Matt and Terra selling their chemical-free produce from Rhizosphere FarmMatt and Terra selling their chemical-free produce from Rhizosphere FarmUnfortunately, I never (and I mean never!) looked beyond the “Nutrition Facts” box on a package. I never perused the “Ingredients” list on my breakfast cereal, protein bars, frozen meals, etc. (not that I would’ve understood a word of it anyway!). And why should I have? After all, there certainly must be agencies whose job it is to make sure that whatever we eat is OK. Right? Right?????

Errr…not so much!

Well, one day the hubby and I happened upon some books that gave us an overview of the current food system, as well as a much-needed reality check. As it turned out:

  1. We were ignorant about the food we were putting into our mouths.

  2. Most of what we were ingesting wasn’t really even really food.  

Yes, you read that correctly. We weren’t even eating food!

The following is a definition of food, which should clarify my point: 

Material, usually of plant or animal origin, that contains or consists of essential body nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals, and is ingested and assimilated by an organism to produce energy, stimulate growth, and maintain life.”

Raw milk from Kvam Family Farm (check out that cream top!)Raw milk from Kvam Family Farm (check out that cream top!)Hmmmm…pretty sure man-made things like Polysorbate-80, Monosodium Glutamate,and High Fructose Corn Syrup fall a smidge short by these criteria. And, believe me, those are just the kinds of garbage ingredients that comprised the bulk of what we had been eating and drinking up until that point.

We couldn’t believe what we were reading! In our case, we panicked (which is not what I recommend)! We purged our kitchen of all of the crap we’d been eating and set out for a fresh beginning. We read every book we could get our hands on, and we quickly found ourselves at the farmer’s market in search of some real food—the kind without a bunch of mysterious ingredients.

Richard Nemec at Buy Fresh Buy Local Nebraska boothRichard Nemec at Buy Fresh Buy Local Nebraska boothBoy, were we lost at the market—“free-range,” “grass-fed,” “naturally-grown,” “chemical-free,” “no antibiotics,” “hormone-free” (Gulp….hormones?!?! What is all of this??) …not to mention that we’d never even seen half of those vegetables in our lives and would’ve had no clue what to do with them even if we had mustered up the courage to actually purchase them!

So, there we were, foreigners in our own land—apparently, we didn’t speak the native tongue. We were intimidated and assumed that we would be “fast talked” around all of our questions once the vendors sensed our ignorance. (You’ll have to pardon uswe’re a bit weary of sales people) Despite our hesitation, we quickly humbled ourselves and started asking questions of the vendors.

Needless to say, we were pleasantly surprised. These people were much more than vegetable peddlers. They were folks who were passionate about what they were doing! Knowing what I know now, of course, I find it laughable that I could’ve ever imagined that it was possible for a small farmer to be in this business just for the money! What money?!?!

Mark and Molly (Kvam Family Farm), Christy and Chad (ChooseRealFoods.org)Mark and Molly (Kvam Family Farm), Christy and Chad (ChooseRealFoods.org)My husband and I have learned a lot throughout the past three years. During this time, we’ve actually formed relationships with many of those farmers market vendors and have spent much of our free time visiting with them and touring their farms.

An event like The Real Food Connection is just what we could have benefited from three years ago when we were trying to wrap our minds around all of this information.

So, make it easy on yourself and come on down on March 21st! There’s no such thing as a “silly” question, and many “key players” in the local and real food arenas will be there to assist you on your journey, as well. Think of it as your chance to jump start your transition to healthy eating—an opportunity I would love to have had!

And make sure you stop by my Choose Real Foods booth to introduce yourself.

I’d love to meet ya!

Need more info?

For more information about this event, please contact Slow Food Omaha.

Email: slowfoodomaha [at] gmail [dot] com
Phone:
Nancy Fredrickson, 402.510.7125
Terra Sorensen, 402.779.3127

Omaha Farmers Market (11th & Jackson)Omaha Farmers Market (11th & Jackson)

cpooschkeChristy authors the "What's Fresh?" column on Omaha.net. She is a local "foodie" and owner/operator of GroceryGeek.com - Check out her natural cookbook, grocery shopping guide, diet make-over services, and personal chef services on her site! She also oper

Comments

AnnDbugz says:

March 15, 2010 : 6 years 28 weeks ago

AnnDbugz's picture

Fantastic article! I had no idea about this - thanks so much for all the info, dates etc.

jordy says:

March 16, 2010 : 6 years 28 weeks ago

jordy's picture

What do you think the chances are of large chains embracing produce from local farmers? Probably pretty small right? I feel like a lot more people would eat healthy, local, organic food if they could do it without having to make a significant investment of time or money. Farmers markets are great, but they are definitely one more place people have to stop in a busy week.

cpooschke says:

March 17, 2010 : 6 years 27 weeks ago

cpooschke's picture

Ann - Thanks for your comment. I hope to see you there! :)

cpooschke says:

March 17, 2010 : 6 years 27 weeks ago

cpooschke's picture

Jordy -
Take your pessimism and get the heck outta here! (Just kidding!)

The day is definitely coming when large chains will embrace produce from local farmers. In the end, most things do come down to consumer demand, too, though. As mentioned in this article: http://omaha.net/articles/omaha-indoor-farmers-market, places like Wal-Mart and HyVee are already purchasing produce from local farms such as Garden Fresh Vegetables in O’Neil, NE. As far as consumers not having to “make a significant investment of time or money,” that’s asking a bit too much, don’t you think? Of course fresh, local foods are going to cost more - - especially because they are grown on a smaller scale and are generally more labor-intensive.

Karen Porter (not verified) says:

March 17, 2010 : 6 years 27 weeks ago

Karen Porter's picture

I am so glad Omaha.net can provide information on local, “real” food. Look forward to learning more!

cpooschke says:

March 17, 2010 : 6 years 27 weeks ago

cpooschke's picture

Karen-
Feel free to contact me if you ever have any questions or are in need of local sources of particular products :)
 -Christy

Anonymous (not verified) says:

March 18, 2010 : 6 years 27 weeks ago

Anonymous's picture

Check out www.localfoods.org

Anonymous (not verified) says:

March 18, 2010 : 6 years 27 weeks ago

Anonymous's picture

Well, Jordy has a point- I moved to Omaha from a culture where there are farmers markets everyday of the week and they are placed in neighborhoods so folks can walk and bike to them- ie fun, easy & relaxing! In omaha they are sparse and tend to be in parking lots where people do not really live (old market, village point) so you are forced to drive and park and the whole thing is sort of a hassle.

However, produce from the farmers market (& meat, too) can cost LESS than the grocery stores because there is not a middle man. Also the produce is usually picked the same day and is not flown in from Chile or China (you might be surprised!).

Omaha is not exactly a great place to eat healthy and you have to put more effort into it because there is not much infrastructure, but HOW cool that people are starting to have conversations! This is the breadbasket and the potential here is huge!

Cullen-ary Gardens (not verified) says:

March 18, 2010 : 6 years 27 weeks ago

Cullen-ary Gardens's picture

You Locavores be sure to check out the Nebraska Food Coop for ordering products grown locally (Nebraska) online with drop points in Omaha, Lincoln & Bellevue. There are lots of choices and great people to meet and learn from.
The growing season is just around the corner, so be prepared.
 JC