National Food Day to spotlight Manatee-Sarasota-produced foods, healthy diet

BRADENTON -- No argument, we Americans could improve our health and well-being by paying more attention to what we eat.

With that in mind today, National Food Day hopes to inspire a change in diets and food policies.

Dozens of local events are planned in the Bradenton-Sarasota area to celebrate healthy food and encourage healthy eating habits.

The events range from Farm-to-Fork restaurant events to a wellness walk for health department workers.

Manatee County Health Department workers are being encouraged to pack a healthy brown-bag lunch for a walk to Bradenton's Riverwalk, where they can share healthy snacks and foods.

Restaurateur Ed Chiles will be hosting a specialty dinner for $75 at his recently renovated BeachHouse Restaurant. The five-course meal will include fresh fall produce from Gamble Creek Farm in Parrish and 3 Boys Farm in Ruskin, paired with "fresh, local tide-to-table seafood."

For information: 941-713-3105.

Don Hall, founder of Transitions Sarasota, said healthy-eating habits are fundamental to a good quality of life.

"We think that local food is so connected to other issues," Hall said.

Transitions Sarasota has planned a week of "Eat Local" activities in Bradenton and Sarasota, starting Friday and continuing through Oct. 30.

Among the events is the free Fall Harvest Fest 2-6 p.m. Saturday at Geraldson Community Farm, 1401 99th St. NW.

"We wanted to kick off our season with a bang," said Christa Leonard, Geraldson's operations manager.

"It has free admission and free parking," she said. The inaugural Fall Harvest Fest will include local foods, music, crafts, a raffle and kid-friendly farm fun.

Planned are fall-themed games and activities, including a hay ride, face-painting, costume contest, and a farm scavenger hunt.

Music will be provided by Mountain Holler, Scone Train, and the Buffalo Wizards.

Dozens of vendors will also be on the grounds of the 20-acre organic farm, ranging from Sunshine Canning to Kidding Around Yoga and Dave's Honey.

Also planned from 3-4 p.m. Saturday are free tours by Manatee Rare Fruit Council of their rare fruit tree collection at Palma Sola Botanical Park next to Geraldson's Community Farm, and starting at 5 p.m., there will be a "Conscious Movement Barn Dance."

There will also be a Rare Fruit Tree Collection Tour at Palma Sola Botanical Park 10 - 11 a.m. Oct. 28.

James A. Jones Jr., Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.