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Fresh ingredients were selected from the Athens Farmers Market.

Photographer: Jody Grenert

Athens Farmers Market

The chefs select the pumpkins that will make the pumpkin risotto later that night.

Photographer: Jody Grenert

Cooking healthy

Participants paid $15 to cook and healthy meal and learn about the locavore movement.

Photographer: Jody Grenert

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30 Mile Meal workshop encourages participants to eat locally


Recently, if you had been standing outside the Atrium Café in Grover Center after the facility had dimmed its lights for the evening, you would have smelled a little bit of heaven: tomatoes, cilantro, roasting pumpkin and spices. And if you had slipped into the kitchen in back and taken a peek, you would have seen something deliciously innovative.

There, a registered dietitian with Ohio University’s WellWorks center and two nutrition educators and in the new School of Applied Health Sciences and Wellness were teaching a dozen or so workshop participants why being a locavore is good for you.

 The locavore session was the Ohio University component of a larger “30 Mile Meal” community event on Sept. 22 that drew Ohio First Lady Frances Strickland,  to town to spotlight Athens’ support for – and love of -- locally grown foods.

The 30 Mile Meal is an “eat local” initiative sponsored by the Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The menu for the hands-on workshop in Grover Center included pumpkin risotto, mushroom tarts and salsa. Most of the ingredients had been purchased earlier in the day at the Athens Farmers Market during Strickland’s visit.

While the cooking session was led by Fran McFadden, a nutrition instructor and manager of the Atrium Café, the participants put together the meals, which they devoured at the end of the workshop.

The aspiring locavores, who worked in pairs, included students, University employees and few community members, all of whom paid  $15 to learn about eating locally.

Another of the locavore workshops will be presented Oct.20.
While they stirred their risotto, the group heard from Francie Astrom, a dietitian at WellWorks, about the health benefits of lycopene in the locally grown tomatoes they had chopped.

Later, as participants folded locally produced goat cheese into their mushroom tarts, they learned from Rob Brannan, assistant professor of nutrition science, just how easy it was to make healthful and delicious mozzarella at home.

When it was pointed out that the risotto rice in the meal wasn’t locally grown, McFadden explained that the 30 Mile campaign isn’t meant to be restrictive.

“It’s more of a movement than a policy,” he said, adding that the initiative is about eating with the seasons and being connected with your food, the region and with the people who grow it.

This workshop is the first in a series of upcoming projects and events that will help define the mission of the School of Applied Health Sciences and Wellness, which contains programs on nutrition, exercise physiology and athletic training. Just as the “wellness” in its name implies, one of the school’s central themes will be to promote wellness through community interactions such as the 30 Mile Meal.

The school will also be a close partner with WellWorks, the fitness and nutrition-education facility located in Grover Center that caters to Ohio University employees and Athens community members.

WellWorks sponsored the locavore workshop and has taken innovative approaches to wellness, such as footing membership fees for those who work out more than 100 days per year and paying University employees to have their health risks assessed.

The new school also administers Grover Center’s Atrium Café, an experiential-learning facility that offers food to the public while educating Ohio University students about nutrition, food service and sanitation. McFadden said the café is planning a series of initiatives inspired by the 30 Mile Meal, including a goal of converting at least 25 percent of its menu to locally grown foods within a year, as well as switching to biodegradable utensils.

The school, café and WellWorks are all part of Ohio University’s newest college, Health Sciences and Professions.

For details on the next locavore workshop visit the WellWorks online at http://www.ohio.edu/wellworks/; for more information on the “30 Mile Meal” program, visit www.athensohio.com/30mile* ; for information about the Ohio University Nutrition program, visit www.ouchsp.org/nutrition*.

Related Links

WellWorks 30 Mile Meal* Ohio University Nutrition Program

Additional Info

*Following this link takes you away from the Ohio University website.