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World on Your Plate festival looks to set table for better nutrition

Eveline Hartz wants people to be smart, and thoughtful, about what they eat, where their food comes from and how it was produced. She and a dedicated group of volunteers look to underline the point annually with World on Your Plate, a two-day gathering of those who wish to learn more about sustainable agriculture, healthy nutrition and what role individuals can play in preserving the environment.

Those gathered also will enjoy a couple of good meals while they're at it.

"We want to connect people from all walks of life because all people eat," said Hartz, of Clarence Center, a retired nurse and health coach, and chair of the World on Your Plate 14th annual Food and Sustainable Living Conference.

This year's installment will run from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6 and 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7 in the Wick Campus Center at Daemen College, 4380 Main St., Amherst.

A Friday evening showing of the documentary, "Cesar Chavez," will be followed by a Q&A with Arturo Rodriguez, the president of the Farm Workers Union and son-in-law to Chavez. Saturday will feature workshops and guest speakers including Linda Black Elk, an ethnobotanist and medicinal plant expert.

Cost will be $30 in advance and $35 at the door; those wishing to attend next Friday only can pay $10 in advance or $15 at the door. Students with ID will be admitted free if they preregister. For advance tickets or more info, visit, email or call 741-8815.

Eveline Hartz is chair of World on Your Plate.

World on Your Plate began in response to 9/11.

"The Western New York Peace Center wanted to create an event centered around food from a peace and justice standpoint," Hartz said. "The Visions for a Better World committee led the effort. About 50 people and three farmers attended the first event at St. Luke's United Church of Christ and we talked about organic farming and CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture).

The event has expanded significantly since, particularly after Daemen College started hosting it in 2009.

“Advancing sustainable agricultural practices is vital to enhancing the well-being of our environment and our communities,” said Brenda Young, Daemen’s program director of global and local sustainability. “The conference will focus on ways farmers and consumers can foster a healthier and safer food system, while also help raise awareness on the rights of farm workers.”

Hartz said organizers hope people will connect, make friends, learn more about the bonds that nutrition can build –  "and help make this world a better place for our kids."

"There will be a seed exchange for people who've saved seeds from their gardens," she added. "Fruition Seeds of Naples also will be on hand to sell its seeds, which are all organic. Workshops that will be informative and enjoyable. Vendors will sell fair-trade products."

Daemen’s Hallmark Executive Chef Robert Ruiz and campus sous chefs will prepare a vegetarian lunch on Oct. 7 with produce donated by several regional organic farmers.

"The farmers who participate always bring something interesting and are very generous," Hartz said.


Workshops will include the following:

Harvesting Justice for Farmworkers: West Cosgrove will talk about how farmworkers form the backbone of the New York State multibillion dollar agricultural industry, but are excluded from basic labor law protections under state and federal law.

For Profit Philanthropy: Jeffrey Goldfarb, Adam Goldfarb and Chintan Shukla will talk about the rise of the millennial generation, and new ways of giving back to the world.

Guts n Brains n Ruts n Strains – Colonization & Effects on the Human Gut Microbiome: Chandra Maracle, who in the past has discussed a Haudenosaunee relationship to food, will talk about how the gut helps form the personal relationship between food and health.

Farmers' Markets: Kelly Kowalski, Food For All director at the Network of Religious Communities, will talk about the wide range of farmers' markets we have in WNY.

Plant-based Approach to Health: Andrea Spako will review our current health in relation to our food system by comparing the standard American diet and a whole plant-based lifestyle.

Buffalo’s Backyard Remedies – Using Abundant Local Plants: Community herbalist Sarah Sorci says wild medicinal and edible plants abound in WNY, and many are found in our own backyards.

Ten Easy Seeds to Save: Petra Page-Mann Wick will teach about the easiest seeds to save in your garden next season.

Public Transportation in WNY with Emphasis to Healthy Food Access: Douglas Funke, a long-time transit advocate and user, will talk about efforts to promote more public transportation.

Growing Food on a Budget – An Introduction to the NYS Seed to Supper Effort: Sharon Bachman will share strategies about growing food in your yard, as well as making better connections with fellow gardeners who grow patches of foods in all sizes.

The Answer to Health is at the End of Your Fork: Certified plant-based chef Jessica Meyers-Altman will talk about the health benefits of plant-based nutrition in the prevention and reversal of many Western diseases. She will discuss foods that should be included in a healthy diet and how to transition to a plant-based way of life.

Climate Change and Food Security: Jack Kanack, owner of Weathermedic, will stress the urgency for an immediate end to all fossil fuel use and give numerous examples of how climate change is impacting our planet.

But I Eat Organic, Grass Fed, Cage free…: Registered dietitian Sue Keleher will talk about the best sources of vitamins, protein and other important nutrients.

Fermented Foods 101: Carol Poliner, an educational trainer in the natural and organic foods industry, will discuss the ancient and fascinating way of preserving food is by lacto-fermentation.


Twitter: @BNrefresh, @ScottBScanlon

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