Monday, March 26, 2012

Farm to Table Conference - Pittsburgh

This past weekend, the Farm to Table conference was held at the David Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh.  It was a great place to learn more about resources in our area. [EDIT 3/27/12: Here is a link to the program if you'd like to check out all the exhibitors, speakers, CSA's, etc.]

There were several speakers and demonstrations to choose from every couple of hours - one definitely could not have attended each one.  There was also a large room filled with exhibits from regional farms and vendors.  I was really glad I brought a big bag to carry all my info and purchases!
The exhibit room
The first table I visited was for Building New Hope, an organization that supports projects in Central America.  They had coffee for sale (which is roasted by our own Commonplace Coffeehouse!) and they pay the Nicaraguan farmers a rate that is better than fair-trade.  I was even more impressed when the rep told me they are volunteer-based.  I couldn't justify buying coffee since I just purchased some recently, but I bought a pretty woven bracelet made by a young Nicaraguan man trying to support himself.  You can purchase coffee from BNH by visiting one of these places listed on their site, or purchasing online.

Next I sampled probably the best honey I've ever tasted.
Honey from Bumbleberry Farms
Oh my word.  Maybe it's partly due to the fact that I'm off sugar right now, but I feel like I could drink this stuff.  It's local (Somerset, PA) and it's raw, which means it's therapeutic properties are still intact!  This honey is available in many places, including Whole Foods, but we could request it locally at our grocery stores if we wanted to see it on their shelves (I have a few business cards and will probably suggest this honey to Martin's - let me know if you want a card to take somewhere else).  The good news is, it's also available for purchase and home delivery through Rosary Acres (more on them in a minute)!  Kudos to Karen Mosholder for this fabulous taste of nature!  She also has a few specialty honeys you may want to check out on her Web site.

Of course, no foodie convention is complete without these guys:
I spoke with the girl in the blue shirt for a while, who was volunteering at the table because her health has dramatically improved by switching from pasteurized to raw milk.  In fact, she has an autoimmune disease that she's had since birth - I forget the name but it's the same one Michael Jackson had, where the skin pigment is damaged.  When she made the switch, her skin started healing!  She had no idea that would happen, but it made her a big believer in how much our bodies need good enzymes and bacteria in the gut.

I told her about my personal reasons for getting educated on nutrition (history of miscarriage), and she recommended a booklet to me, which I eagerly purchased.  In case anyone else would ever want to borrow it or get their own copy, the title is "Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts" and it's the "Healthy Baby Issue" (published by the Weston A Price Foundation).

And, while we're on the topic of nutrition and how it relates to healing and wellness, I'll tell you a little bit about the speakers I heard.  One was Janet McKee, a holistic health counselor who gave a cooking demonstration and talk.  I could have spent a long time listening to her!  Check out her Web site by clicking on her name - she has a long list of upcoming events and has tons of interesting info on the site.  One of the most remarkable things she discussed was her current partnership with a physician who beat terminal cancer by changing his diet.  They are working together to educate people and spread the word about the amazing healing power of food.

I also heard one of the owners of Weatherbury Farm give a presentation on grass-fed cows.  There was a lot of information given, which I won't get into in this post, but I am definitely in favor of making the switch!  The thing is, most grocery stores don't sell grass-fed beef - except certain Giant Eagle stores and Whole Foods stores.  You can purchase from Galaxy Farms (grain-finished) - see our Local Farm page - or Manchester Farms, or you can find a grass-fed beef farmer at Eat Wild or Local Harvest.  You can also purchase through Rosary Acres (I promise I'll get to them!).

Manchester Farms also sells grass-fed, whole, organic milk that is NON-homogenized (old-fashioned, cream-on-top milk!) and gently pasteurized.  You may find this milk at many locations around Pittsburgh - see their Web site.

All right - on to Rosary Acres.  I was really excited about them because they are now beginning HOME DELIVERY to anywhere in western PA!  They just finished building up the stock in their store in Ligonier, and just got their refrigerated truck.  Delivery will rotate throughout the region, so that means one area will get delivery about every two weeks (beginning after Easter).  No membership is required - you just call and place your order the week before your delivery day.  There IS a minimum order of $75.00, plus a $5.00 delivery fee, which isn't much when you consider your own cost of gas to get to all the markets in Pittsburgh.  And you can combine orders with a friend and just split the cost, if you can't reach $75.00.  Perhaps we can communicate on Facebook with one another if we are placing orders - that way, if people just need one or two items, they can piggyback on someone else's order.

If this delivery system works out well, it will bring together virtually all of the items this group has discussed - local honey (Bumbleberry Farms), grass-fed beef, local organic produce, raw milk (Your Family Cow), fresh wild-caught fish, herbs, teas & spices, and the entire catalog of Frankferd Farms, plus items from Friendship Farms.  I was ready to hug the man.  You can also shop in their store in Ligonier, located at 1869 Rte. 30 W.  The owners are Rick and Lisa Adams, and I met Rick at the conference - he's a very nice man and I am excited to do business with them.

I have about 35 handouts and catalogs sitting beside me, so I can't cover everything I saw there, but it was a great resource and I hope this information helps us here in Indiana to connect with the many healthy food options available to us!  Feel free to ask questions here or on the Facebook page... I am not sure if the comment form is even working here, so if you have problems, let me know.

I leave you with a couple of gratuitous Pittsburgh pictures.  I think we have a very lovely city :)

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