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Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012

The Eat Local Resource Fair Expands

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In its early years, the Eat Local Resource Fair at Milwaukee's Urban Ecology Center stressed the environmental, economic and health benefits of eating locally sourced foods, a message that fell on receptive ears. Now in its sixth year, the Eat Local Resource Fair no longer needs to make a hard sell for its cause. The benefits of eating local have been so well established that the event is now primarily focused on helping people to eat local, rather than telling them why they should, says Margaret Mittelstadt, director of community relations for Outpost Natural Foods and a co-organizer of the event.

“We are looking to supply people with information on where they can find local foods and give them tips on how to eat local during the winter months,” Mittelstadt explains. “We'll have information on food preservation and offer tips on how to buy food directly from farmers, as well as a local market where folks can meet some of these local food producers directly.”

This year the Eat Local Resource Fair expands to fill all three floors of the Urban Ecology Center. One addition is a restaurant sampling area, which will include tables from Beans & Barley, Roots Restaurant, Braise, Fresh Healthy Eatery and Juice Bar and Verduras. This year's programming will include a talk about local ingredients from chef Peter Sandroni of La Merenda, a cooking demonstration from Kathy Papineau of the food truck MKE Localicious, and a discussion about buying meat directly from farmers.

“A lot of people don't understand that when you buy meat from a farmer, you're buying half a cow; it won't come cut up into hamburger patties,” Mittelstadt explains. “Unless you know some interesting tips about how to divide up a cow, you might be less inclined to buy meat directly from a farmer.” It's an example of how eating local can sometimes be more work than buying mass-produced food, but worth the extra effort.

“Eating local is a very simple approach to eating, and a very rewarding one,” Mittelstadt says. “You're eating foods fresh from the farmer and harvested at peak ripeness, so the flavor is there and the nutrition density is there. You really can't beat it.”

The Eat Local Resource Fair runs 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25, at the Urban Ecology Center, 1500 E. Park Place. The event is free, though donations to the venue are encouraged.