From Breast Cancer to the Farm to the Schools

by Heather Ferber on October 24, 2011

So my last post was about October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Interestingly, October also marks “National Farm to School Month.” For those of you not familiar with the Farm to School program, it connects schools (K-12) and local farms/farmers in order to increase healthy meals in school cafeterias; improve student nutrition;  support local and regional farmers; and to provide increased agriculture, health, and nutrition education opportunities within the schools and communities where the partnerships arise.  In my mind, certain cancers and nutrition are intricately linked and we are only beginning to hear about the science behind the relationships.

Last Wednesday evening, I attended an incredible edible and educational program at WCTC called, “1st Annual Harvest For Your Health: East With The Intention To Heal.” The program was organized by Good Harvest Market and NuGenesis Farm, Inc. a non-profit organization working to prevent disease through education, sustainable organic agriculture and research.  The evening opened with cocktails and food stations. The food was prepared by several local chefs who donated their time and talents (Wayne Roe, Children’s Hospital; Adam Brousil & Gina Navarrete, Good Harvest Market; Phil Haseker, Waukesha Memorial Hospital; Jack Kaestner, Oconomowoc Lake Club; Brian Moog, J&B Events; and Brian Shoemake, Taher, Inc.). The food the chefs prepared was from local farms including NeGenesis, Pinehold Gardens, Gitto Farm, Stone Circle Farm, Castle Rock Organic Dairy and HighCross Farm. Purple Cow Organics and Cyrbos, the Sprouted Bakehouse also donated to the evening’s festivities.

Everything was outstanding! Fish tacos in corn crepes with black bean banana mash and roasted beet salad; slow roasted leg of lamb with grilled escarole and caramelized root veggies; Thai steak salad over bean thread glass noodles and veggies dressed in a sweet chili vinaigrette….and more!  It was all delicious!

Thankfully, I came home with a bunch of the recipes…not sure I will be able to make my dishes taste the same but definitely worth a try!

During dinner, I learned that the Oconomowoc School District is doing a great job of partnering with local farmers to improve nutrition in their schools – not sure if they have participated in the Farm to School program, but they have embraced the concept by purchasing tons of great produce from local farmers and passing it along to their students in the lunch rooms.  Kuddos to them!

The evening wrapped up with presentations by Kathy Bero, the President of NuGenesis Farm and three-time cancer survivor and Dr. Gary Stoner from the Medical College of Wisconsin, World Renowned Chemoprevention Scientist.  Kathy told her incredible story of beating cancer not once, but three time! And she discussed her passion and mission behind NuGensis Farms.  You can learn more at  www.nugensisfarm.org.  Dr. Stoner shared some incredible data and research from his black raspberry lab at the Medical College.  He is currently looking at esophageal cancer, colon cancer, and oral cancer and the effects that black raspberries (BRBs) have on these cancers.  (Side note: BRBs contain phytosterols which may be protective against breast cancer as well.)

Kathy Bero is a true inspiration and great example of what nutrition can do for one’s health. I encourage you to check out her website.  And I encourage you to find ways to make veggies fun for your family and children.  The Farm to School program could be a much greater success if there were more schools demanding fresh veggies. That demand will come from parents and students, especially as people begin to realized the power of nutrition.  So don’t just “think pink” for October….”think green” too!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Cathy Bartels October 24, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Great post! I have been curious about the farm since I got some info on it last year. I had hoped to get to some special event that they had. It follows my passions of gardening organically, nutrition, and loading up on veggies.
Have you read the China Study. It came to mind as I read the beginning of your post. The book is all about the link between food and cancer and other diseases. It is a must read for anyone interested in nutrition, actually I think it is a must read for everyone!

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betterhealthbyheather October 25, 2011 at 7:53 am

The farm is worth a visit – probably more to do in spring/summer/fall than in winter though. There are some fun things for children to do and they are always looking for volunteers to come and help garden/weed/plant/etc. May be a great adventure for your family. I’ll be attending one of their classes this evening and will let you know how it goes. Thanks for your comments!

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