WHEN Savannah Food Day organizer Joanne Morton helped launched the first festival in Daffin Park in 2011, she had no idea the gathering of farmers, foodies and health providers would become the largest of its kind in the United States.
Well, maybe an inkling.
“We put a lot of magic, passion and love into this event from the beginning, and people have responded to that,” says the colorful coordinator of the all-day extravaganza that draws a diverse crowd of hundreds every year. “The Food Day Festival benefits so many demographics of our community and merges them together under the one thing we all have in common: We all need real food and clean water.”
Part of an initiative launched by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food Day events are meant to inspire communities to eat healthy while furthering sensible food policies and education. Based in Washington, DC, CSPI has been instrumental in food labeling reform and the reduction of junk food marketing to kids while collating studies and sharing curricula with schools. Its mission is simple: To make sure consumers have current, true information about their nutrition.
“One reason why the Savannah Food Day Festival continues to grow is because even when it feels like we might be going backwards with science, health and sustainable choices in our current time, we haven’t given up hope for a better future for all people,” continues Morton.
Now in its seventh year under the lovely shade of Daffin’s tree-lined median, Savannah Food Day is ready with all kinds of delicious, nutritious fun on Saturday, Oct. 7. That’s a few weeks earlier than its traditional slot at the end of the month, and Morton says the new date gives the event a bit of breathing room in the city’s busy festival season.
Free workshops are the hallmark of the day, and folks can learn about the backyard beekeeping, natural approaches to cancer prevention and making your own herbal face masks and salt scrubs. Dr. Terri Norburg will demystify how a Paleo diet can help with auto-immune disorders, and the goats of Bootleg Farm have agreed to stand still for a milking demonstration. Cooking demos, water filtration techniques and sustainable seafood discussions offer easy changes that make a big difference.
The food justice community’s year-round players will be representing, including Healthy Savannah, Savannah Vegans and Veggies, OccuGardens, Heartbeat for Life, Youth for a Cleaner Environment and Savannah Urban Garden Alliance (SUGA). Food is always a family affair, and for the first time the Savannah Children’s Museum is partnering with Loop it Up Savannah and the YMCA to create a slew of activities for kids of all ages.
The roundabout is an omnivore’s delight with grass-fed burgers from Hunter Cattle, vegan delights from Natural Selections and more guilt-free treats from the Sentient Bean and Brighter Day Natural Foods. Bring a blanket or a chair to enjoy free music throughout the day, from strong songstresses Laiken Love and Josephine Johnson to the kickin’ riffs of Keystone Postcards and “Savannahmous” rockers Ember City.
While Savannah’s Food Day Festival keeps drawing an increasing attendance of folks eager to chill under the trees and learn about healthy food systems, the number of local agencies and companies willing to throw their support behind the cause is also flourishing. (Check out fooddaysavannah.org/sponsor for a full roster.)
“We’re continuing to build a portfolio of businesses that see the value in this educational event and want to participate in improving the quality of life for Savannah,” points out Morton.
“The fact that we’re not only still here but growing proves that we’re making progress in the healthy food movement.”