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The following is a guest post by the wonderful Amy Sapola, who has organized the Food Revolution Rochester MN group.

Starting a Food Revolution

Revolution: A turn around, a fundamental change…in a relatively short period. (Thanks Wikipedia!)

A food revolution is exactly that: a fundamental change in how we view food, how we experience food, and what we put into our bodies. It’s time to start eating and enjoying “real food” again. (P.S.: real food is not found in a box.)

Eating real, whole, local, nutritious food is not only good for you in the long run, but it has short term effects too! Think of how you feel after different meals. How does food affect you? How does food make you feel?

Clearly we’re in trouble! Last week, I saw a report stating that two-thirds of adults and one-third of children are now considered overweight or obese—and this is just in the United States! This is really alarming.

I think that’s where each one of us can make a big difference. But how do we do that? Well, given that a revolution is a fundamental change in a short period of time, we should start a revolution! The good news is that’s happening on May 19th. Global Food Revolution Day is meant to inspire, educate, and empower people everywhere to stand up for real food, and that is exactly what I hope we can accomplish in Rochester.

I, like many people in Rochester, work in healthcare. I see first-hand what a poor diet can do to the body. I see the burden of chronic disease, as well as the burden of taking handfuls of medications each day. Yet I fail to understand how it is too much of a burden to change the way we eat if, in doing so, we could completely change our lives for the better. There are many people who desire to do something, to make a change, to improve their well-being. Food Revolution Day is about bringing everyone together! Working together, we will make change possible. It is time to look at healthcare and nutrition differently, instead of seeing patients when they’re already sick. I hope that the Food Revolution can change peoples’ lives before they get to that point.

A Community of Good Food

I personally have fallen in love with the Rochester Downtown Farmers Market. The things I have found there are truly wonderful, and the selection is always changing with the seasons. With everything and anything that we want to eat so readily available, we often neglect to think about eating what’s in season. Just last weekend, I was walking around the Downtown Farmers Market with my husband, and not only did we find morel mushrooms, spinach, and asparagus, we also were able to buy small plants to start our own garden.

Amy and the watercress guru from Easy Yoke Gardens, Millville, MN

That same day at the market, I discovered something I had never tried before! While my husband and I were perusing the colorful displays, I noticed a clump of greens stuck in a pan of water on a table towards the back of the market. I honestly had no idea what it was; I was debating between an herb and some sort of salad. The man standing behind the table noticed me curiously inspecting the greens, and  told me it was watercress. I had heard of it before, but never tried it. The vendor described how it grows alongside streams, and that it has a peppery tangy flavor. I was sold! I love trying new foods, and this was the perfect opportunity. I not only learned about a new plant, but finding watercress inspired me to make a healthy dinner to share with my husband. As an added bonus, that experience helped me to start building a new relationship with a farmer at the market! I am looking forward to telling him how much I enjoyed the watercress, and I’m curious what he will have available next week.

Each time I go to the Downtown Farmers Market, I love watching our community come together to shop and learn. You should definitely consider exploring the Farmers Market, visiting a farm, or planting a garden. Reconnecting with where our food comes from is vitally important. Buying local, fresh produce is not only good for our bodies, it’s great for our local sense of community  and local economy.

Bringing it All Together

Family and friends, great food and drink, and lots of laughter. In my opinion, these are the essentials for a great time. Slowing down and finding time to enjoy these things is most important. If families are not spending the time to cook and eat together, valuable lessons, experiences, and connections are being lost. Jamie Oliver talks about how cooking skills are no longer being passed down to children like they used to be,  which is scary when you think about it. Cooking is a basic survival skill, and being able to prepare healthy meals is the key to good health for the whole family.

Söntés was the very first place I thought of to host a Food Revolution Day dinner for this very reason; the food is local, fresh, and the way it’s prepared demonstrates a love of food and a passion for cooking. The atmosphere and menu encourage sharing dishes with friends, having a relaxing meal, and enjoying the moment!

I am so happy that Tessa has been supportive of Food Revolution Day, and I cannot wait to try the Chef’s Tasting Menu on May 19th!

Finally, although May 19th is our official Food Revolution Day in Rochester, this is just the start! I hope that this day will help bring together people in the community, so that we can share ideas and resources, build networks, and work together to keep the Local Food Revolution going in Rochester!

I hope to see you Saturday!

Amy Sapola

If you’d like to learn more about the Rochester Food Revolution, you can email Amy, or check out the movement on Twitter: @FoodRevRochMN.