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Big appetite for upcoming Brooklyn Food Conference at John Jay High School

Everything we eat is food for thought −− at least according to organizers of the Brooklyn’s Food Conference, which seeks to explore issues ranging from sustainability to healthful eating, in ways that borough residents old and young can both learn from and enjoy.

The free event, the first of its kind in Brooklyn, will be held on Saturday, May 2, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at John Jay High School, 237 Seventh Avenue, and Public School 321, 180 Seventh Avenue.

It is expected to attract thousands of participants from around the borough, according to organizers who have been overwhelmed, they say, by the enthusiastic interest in the subject, which will be explored by nearly 300 speakers participating in some 60 different workshops.

“The event is two and a half weeks away, and we already have 650 people registered,” noted Nancy Romer, the conference’s general coordinator during a phone interview. “It’s the most amazing organizing I’ve done. This is the right issue at the right moment. It’s really exciting the way people are connecting.”

The conference’s purpose is to showcase the vast range of issues around the general subject of food, with workshops and panel discussions for the adults and interactive learning opportunities for the kids, as well as plenty of food to taste and savor, thanks to a bevy of exhibitors who have taken tables at the event.

Among the major concerns that will be explored, according to organizers, is getting healthful foods into communities that have too few of such resources; as well as environmental issues regarding sustainable and locally sourced foods and the corporate influence on the foods we eat.

“We will be talking about growing our own food, about the environmental impact, about organizing to bring about a better food system,” Romer explained. “We will be looking at social policy and labor issues relative to the growing and processing and retailing of food, and we will be looking at health issues, particularly around obesity and diabetes, and school food. We will also focus on pre−natal and infant nutrition as well as child nutrition.”

The children’s programming will be equally diverse. Besides an opening procession, there will be cooking classes, a chicken exhibit, games and stories, as well as workshops for teens, by teens. “They are going to learn a lot and their parents are going to learn a lot,” Romer told this paper.

Education is one aspect of the conference’s mission. Making a statement is another. “We are going to ask questions and make our voices heard,” Romer attested. “We have the opportunity for a lot of paradigm shifts. The average person needs to stand up and be counted.”

Participation in the event is emblematic of the diversity of interests. The major sponsors are the Park Slope Food Coop, the Caribbean Women’s Health Association, World Hunger Year, Brooklyn Rescue Mission and Brooklyn’s Bounty. But, the organizations and businesses that are taking part range from food pantries to health food stores, CSAs to elegant restaurants.

Besides the free conference, there will also be a dinner “prepared by professional chefs using sustainable foods produced by local farmers and producers,” according to the event’s website. Tickets to the dinner cost $20.

For further information, log onto www.brooklynfoodconference.org or call 347−524−0051. To register, call 347−782−5987.

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