EAST MANATEE -- Manatee farmers, sustainable food advocates and chefs will celebrate the National Food Day movement this weekend during the Bradenton-Sarasota Food Day Celebration.
The event is being organized by Slow Food Greater Sarasota, the local chapter of Slow Foods USA, King Farm, Zildjian Catering and Suncoast Food Alliance and will take place 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Oct. 28 at King Farm, 4630 60th St. E.
National Food Day was started by the Center for Science in the Public Interest to raise awareness for sustainable, healthy food and is celebrated annually on Oct. 24. The local event was moved to Sunday to attract more visitors.
Local farmers and food producers will set up a small farmers market and the event will include hay rides, live music, gardening and cooking classes, plant sales and a farm-to-fork lunch, in which local products will be harvested on site and served. The menu includes pulled pork, chicken, salads, grilled farm vegetables, corn and black-eyed peas.
The lunch is $15 in advance and $20 on Sunday. Children younger than 10 pay $10.
"It's a national food event to highlight the local food system," said Ellen Teeter, program committee chairwoman for Slow Foods Greater Sarasota. "It helps the economy of the community and food safety with food from the community. It's also to celebrate freshness of local foods. It's better for you."
A $5 suggested donation is welcomed. Proceeds will benefit Slow Food of Greater Sarasota and the Edible School Garden Fund. The fund enables teachers to
implement more learningactivities for local students.
"This brings more attention to what our farmers are doing," said John Matthews, founder of Suncoast Food Alliance, which connects local farmers with food establishments in the Tampa Bay area.
"What better way to celebrate when harvest starts than to come and see what everyone is doing?"
Matthews said the event allows farmers to interact with the consumer.
"For some of these farms who don't sell in farmers markets, this is to get them out to the general public," he said. "They learn about the consumer demand and how consumers want their products treated. That will drive a need for more sustainability if the public asks for it.
King Farm, which for the past several years has operated a market for the public, announced in its newsletter this week that would be unable to do so this year.
"We have been very hopeful that we would be opening in January but unfortunately we are unable to open our market for the 2012-2013 growing season," Shelby Kin said. "The sad thing is, growing food for the folks in our community is our passion and what Ben and I believe to be our 'life's work.' Making the decision to not open our market has been very difficult and heartbreaking to say the least. Just as we believe in sustainable growing practices it is also important that our business be sustainable and until we can figure out how to make that happen we will be growing food on a small and manageable scale. We plan to host events at the farm throughout the season such as the one this weekend as well as Table to Farm dinners, educational field trips and more."
Those interested can make payments in advance at www.wepay.com/events/fooddaysarasota.
Nick Williams, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Twitter:@_1NickWilliams.
IF YOU GO
What: National Food Day
Where: King Farm, 4630 60th St. E., East Manatee.
When: 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Oct. 28