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Local Food Day Celebration Bolsters Health and Economics of The Ozarks

Food Day

National Food Day is a grassroots campaign aimed at changing food systems in the United States to cultivate healthier people and healthier communities. KSMU’s Shane Franklin spoke with FoodCORE, a local organization with the same goal.

The National Food Day celebration is coming to Springfield for the third year running, with the slogan “Eat Real,” because after all- we are what we eat.

Sheila Nichols with FoodCORE says this year the community is going all out with a four month campaign aimed at cultivating a culture of healthy, affordable, and sustainable food for the Ozarks.

“Instead of just having a one day event like most food day events we have decided to make it a four month continuum of educational and experience related opportunities for the community,” says Nichols.

These experiences, which kicked off in July, include a movie series, farm to table events, farm tours, and educational classes to promote community organizations with an interest in local and sustainable food.

Tonight (Thursday 8-15) at BassPro from 6:30-8:30, Vanishing of the Bees will be presented for free, covering Colony Collapse Disorder and the dramatic repercussions of losing the honey bee. There’s a full list of movies and events on their website, FoodDayCelebration.org.

Nichols says that it is not just about the health of local people, but also the health of the local economy. She says that if only a quarter of the residents of Springfield were to spend $10 a week on local foods, that would amount to $21 million pumped back into the local economy each year.

She also says that money would be nearly doubled, to around $40 million per year, because local farmers and food vendors usually hire locally and do business with other local companies. She says money that circulates in the Ozarks adds more to the local economy than money spent on companies with headquarters outside of the community.

In addition to bolstering the local economy, there is an extra incentive for community members to participate in the celebration. This comes in the form of the “Eat Real Passport.”

“At the events on the passport they’ll receive a stamp for attending and the person who receives the most stamps will receive a free rain barrel system valued at over $300. We also have a $100 gift certificate to Gilardi’s for the second place, and then just by getting four stamps on you passport that will entitle you to receive five free food and drink tickets at the Harvest Party,” explains Nichols.

The Harvest Party is the culminating event at the Farmers Park, the new farmers market off Republic Road and Nature Center Way. There will be food from local producers and vendors, live music, and awards given to honor and celebrate the many farmers and supporters of the growing local food system.

Awards include the Lifetime Achievement award, the Innovative Farmer, and the Growing Green Award, which is recognized for making outstanding contributions to advance the sustainable food system in the Ozarks.

You can make nominations for these awards on their website through September 15th. Voting starts the following day, and winners are announced at the Harvest Party on October 26th.

For KSMU News, I’m Shane Franklin.