Fresh produce, local farmers and sustainability were just some of the topics at Food Day.
The national event was held on Oct. 24, at the Waupaca Recreation Center.
“It’s just a way to try to promote local food and local farms,” said Bev Hall, coordinator for the Waupaca County NuAct (Nutrition/Activity) Coalition.
NuACT and the Waupaca ACHIEVE Committee sponsored Food Day in Waupaca.
It was the first year Food Day was celebrated here. Last year was the first year for such a national event.
Hall said NuACT has put together various programs in the county to raise awareness about how healthy food choices can make a difference in the lives of people.
Connie Abert, a member of the Waupaca ACHIEVE Committee, said the group’s efforts related to nutrition are just getting started.
ACHIEVE – Action Communities for Health, Innovation and Environmental Change – is an initiative of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It brings together concerned citizens to create healthy communities and provide local leaders with education and resources to solve specific health problems.
The city of Waupaca is among a handful of U.S. communities selected for the national healthy community grant.
Waupaca’s Parks and Recreation Department received the $50,000 grant through the National Recreation and Parks Association.
Abert said it is important for people to know what they are eating.
“We pay five to sevenfold at the end for what we’re allowing to happen at the beginning,” she said of choices made throughout the lifetime of a person. “It’s not political. It’s a financial piece.”
At Food Day, there was information inside the recreation center about local growers, community gardens, the Waupaca Eating Smart program, food pantries and about safe routes to school.
“Part of what this does,” Hall said, “is to highlight what’s out there. There are so many local farms.”
Some of those local producers were set up outside the recreation center on Food Day.
The farm market included Michelle Orr, who with her husband Dean owns Graz-Orr Farms outside of Waupaca.
There is a demand for their pasture-raised meat.
“It’s just great that they’re trying to connect people with their food,” Orr said.
The Orrs are among local farmers who have begun working together to network.
“We are studying areas that have strong community farmer’s markets to bring that here,” she said.
Brenda Thyssen, of Triple B Produce in rural New London, was also part of the Food Day farmer’s market.
As she sold pumpkins, she talked to people about her family’s Community Supported Agriculture and how she is part of the Farm to School Program.
“I think you just have to put it out there and let them make the choice,” she said. “Some of them don’t know who the local farmers are.”
Another one of Waupaca’s local farmers is Wayne Eisentraut, of Dry Barn Meats.
He raises grass-fed beef and chicken and also sells certified organic meat from Eisentraut Dairy.
“These animals were not built for grain. They were built for forage,” Eisentraut said. “We had to have enough ground for them to utilize, but we found we can do it. It’s just different. It’s a learning curve.”
Bonni Miller, of Waupaca, is also known for using local ingredients when she cooks.
She is among those who have begun discussing such ideas as establishing a winter farmer’s market in Waupaca.
“I love this. People are talking to the farmers, and farmers are talking to their customers,” Miller said. “It’s just a win-win for everybody.”