A veritable cornucopia of events will take place in Berkshire County today and this week to observe Food Day -- a national celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable and sustainable food.
About a dozen local events will take place from Williamstown to Great Barrington, covering topics from the business and policies of sustainable farming to farm-to-table cooking.
"It feels like something is starting to happen," said Nutrition Center Executive Director Peter Stanton.
He said after years of seeing news on health issues and topics, "it feels like everyone is talking about it and there are some changes."
More than 4,500 Food Day events are scheduled to take place nationwide, according to the website for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which organizes the event.
The Nutrition Center, a Pittsfield-based nonprofit that advocates healthy eating, will host cooking classes for adults and kids this week, using seasonal produce like winter squash and apples.
By day's end, Stanton said he would like to see people realize there is a national dialogue and momentum behind eating healthier.
"I think this is something a lot of people are doing, so people will say that this is OK and the norm," he said.
Williams College, for example, is observing "Food Week," (sustainability.williams.edu/sustainable-food), with public lectures and student dinner events.
The state has challenged K-12 schools to offer fresh, non-processed foods for breakfast and lunch on Food Day. More than 250 schools are participating, including Pittsfield Public Schools and Chester Elementary School in nearby Hampden County.
Food and Nutrition Director Wendy McCaul of Gateway Regional School District, which serves Chester Elementary, said the school will be serving baked potatoes for lunch.
"Those potatoes are locally grown," McCaul said. "[Students] will be aware that they came from Hatfield."
For a second year, Monument Valley Regional Middle School in Great Barrington has partnered with Berkshire Grown to educate seventh- and eighth-graders, Principal Benjamin Doren said.
Local farmers are teaching kids about food production, farming, budgeting and ways to help hungry and homeless members in the community.
Today, a group of 15 students in Monument Valley's after-school program will try to entice their peers with nutritious snacks and healthy recipe cards to make healthy decisions.
"It's a great opportunity to get students involved in ... cultivating our future," Doren said.
Food Day events in Berkshire County
All events are open to the public
n The Nutrition Center, from 1:30-2:30, will lead a healthy cooking class at The Christian Center, 193 Robbins Ave., Pittsfield.
n "Keep Berkshires Farming," from 7-9 p.m. will host a meeting to support farming in South County at the First Congregational Church, 251 Main Street, Great Barrington.
Sheep Hill in Williamstown from 6:30-9 p.m., will host a "Pie Potluck & People's Choice Awards," at 671 Cold Spring Road/Route 7, Williamstown. Williams College lead baker Michael Menard will demonstrate how to make the perfect pie crust. Admission is $3; free if you bring your own pie.
Wild Oats and St. John's Episcopal Church will host and moderate at panel of local farmers discussing the business of sustainable farming. The panel takes place from 8-9 p.m. at the church, 35 Park St., Williamstown.
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