July 22, 2009

Public devours healthy foods gathering on Monument Square

Who knew Racine was this healthy?

Organizers from the new group Eat Right Racine packed Monument Square with an impressive display of healthy foods, free samples, nutritional advice, children's activities and music. Hundreds of people attended the event, which is the first of its kind in Racine.

"It's amazing," said Amanda DeSonia, one of the founders of Eat Right Racine. "This is more than we expected. It's heart-warming."

Here are some of the highlights I saw at the event:

There were lots of activities for kids: Here, sorting various beans

* It was a great group of people. Energy was high at the event, people of all ages were having a good time and the displays were effective. Eat Right Racine's biggest accomplishment was getting so many people together in one place around an important topic like healthy foods and eating. They're really on to something.

* Lizz Fabel, a gourmet chef and cooking instructor, demonstrated knife skills at her booth. Her first piece of advice: Use sharp knives. Fabel spent $7 at TJ Maxx for her paring knife, but had the knife sharpened by a professional. She also used a steel to align the metal's molecules to get a clean cut through vegetables.

"It makes cooking enjoyable," Fabel said. "Anyone who says they hate cooking probably has dull knives."

Fabel then offered this nifty trick for cutting onions. Cut the onion into quarters leaving the root end in tact so it doesn't fall apart. With each quarter, slice lengthwise and then turn the onion to its other side and slice again. Then when you cut against the lines, the onion is diced into small pieces.

* Heidi Fannin, one of the lead organizers of Eat Right Racine, had a booth showing the amount of sugar in common items like juice boxes, yogurt and granola bars. All of them had at least four packets. "It's about choices," Fannin said. "I'd rather save my sugar for cake."

Fannin also hopes people become more aware of "food miles," which is the distance food travels to get to Racine. Her hope is people will buy and grow local produce that will save energy, support the local economy and offer more nutritional choices.

A taste of Chipotle's grilled chicken went down well

* Chipotle set up a booth on the square and offered free food to participants. The corporation backed a documentary on problems in the American food industry. While a surprising move for a fast food company, a third of Chipotle's beans are organically grown and the restaurant uses healthier meats than other chains.

* Olde Madrid, on Sixth St., had a booth and was offering a chicken salad sampler.

* The Racine Urban Garden Network had a great display showing off the group's successes in creating new gardens throughout the city. This summer RUGN has 10 youth employees who are working in various gardens. For more information about RUGN and Racine's gardens, visit: www.rugn.org

* Katie Lafond, a sophomore at The Prairie School, provided music for the event.

Sister Janet Weyker's imports vs. food grown at the Eco-Justice Center here

* Here's an example of the displays, which were all really well done: Sister Janet Weyker tried to show people how far food traveled to reach Racine's grocery store. Next door, Junior League of Racine showed children how to make a healthy trail mix and Small World Montessori school and Sunshine Mountain Preschool had kids playing with beans.

"It's very impressive," said Jane Finkenbine, a volunteer with Junior League.

Mayor Dickert helps his daughter, Eleanor, choose healthy trail mix components

Eat Right Racine's next event will be its August monthly meeting. DeSonia said the group was thinking about an outing to Milwaukee to watch the "Food, Inc." documentary. Fanin is also hoping the group can focus on healthy meals and snacks for children.

For more information about Eat Right Racine, visit: www.eatrightracine.org

West Racine Farmers' Market offered a variety of local veggies


  1. Way to go guys! You are doing a great thing for our city. Thank you.


  3. This alone with Community Gardens is a huge step toward a great change for Racine.
    I do wish that he who can not be named from the City Department of Development would get with the program.
    Guess it's hard to see or except change when for years your word was law.

  4. anonymous-- can you be more specific?

  5. It was so cool to see people come out and learn, enjoy, take part in this event. Thank you!!
    If we want a better health care system, we need to become healthy ourselves.
    Food is medicine.

  6. Earning my celery7/23/2009 7:28 AM

    What a great event! Excellent blend of food samples, nutritional informaiton, cooking demonstrations, raffles...all complimented by a talented young musician on a perfect weather night! Bravo!

  7. Eat Right Racine is a very important project for our community. Congratulations to the three energetic women who have put this program together and the many others who lend their time and skills.

    What we consume not only affects the quality of our physical health, it also affects the quality of our mental health. It has now been shown that foods and beverages impact our ability to learn and retain information – as well as our memory and our ability to think clearly. We can also experience depression, anxiety, mood swings, PMS, and addictive cravings due to what we eat.

    For more information, see Elizabeth Somer’s Food and Mood and Barbara Stitt’s Food and Behavior.

    More info and links at my blog at http://lakehouseracine.blogspot.com/2009/07/what-we-eat-affects-our-mental-health.html

  8. it's about time that Racine had a group like this! What a great event - I hope there are more of them.

  9. Great move Eat Right Racine to take action and motivate the Racine population to understand the purpose of healthy eating and recognize that we all can make healthy, tasty choices. Reading labels and saying "no" to unhealthy food is choice power. Preparing fresh locally grown healthy foods brings community together. The right food choices are out there. We all need to take care of our self. Healthy food awareness leads to healthy food choice which leads to eating right. Thank you Eat Right Racine.

  10. Awesome work on a worthy and critically needed cause!

  11. Free food, good or bad, always attracts cheap residents of Racine.

    Also, can you guys stop taking pics of the Mayor at these events??

    It's getting real old.

    Let the hack attacks begin below!!

  12. Anon 9:18: Please send your list of approved photo subjects...

    P.S. You should've come; might have improved your disposition.

  13. Pete:

    It's your site, so I understand that you can put whatever you choose on it.

    As a taxpayer, it concerns me that the Mayor is ALWAYS showing up at these "fun" events, yet has not once talked about the out of control crime in this city.

    If he would speak of a "plan" and action that would target individuals responsible for the deterioration of this city, I would care less if he shows up at these types of functions.

    Although, I do question if he took a vacation day to take time off of work to be with his kids at this event.

    I could be wrong, but I'm sure other city workers would have loved to leave work and attend this event with their kids "on the house" so to speak.

    I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that he used his own earned time for this.

    Thank you.

  14. Wow....what an idiot.

  15. Maybe he needs to change his diet!!!

  16. Great job Heide, unfortunately I had tickets to the David Sanborn concert and was unable to attend, but I'll get in for a msssage sometime soon.

  17. Mayor's timecard7/23/2009 10:05 AM

    Hey anon...the event ran from 6 until 8pm so this is an example of hizzoner working on his own free time for the city.

  18. Great job on the pictures. Especially the one on the front page of the Racine Post. The children's faces say it all!

  19. Diet plays a critical roll in our life's.
    A good diet helps kids do better at school,prevent illness a host of great benefits from a good diet. Proven 100% fact.
    Park HS with the Garden they are growing and trying hard to get in the school lunch (fighting RUSD to do so gives me hope for RUSD after years of bitterness) is helping to lead the way.
    Racine Urban Gardening Network is getting help offering aid to those who might need that help.
    Green Racine podcast on Blog Talk Radio is spending the word on a range of issues from power to Organic gardens.
    The Mayor is helping by leading the way in fixing up the parks etc.
    Of course He who can not be named is fighting tooth and nail to stop the minorty population near the Old Danish Home site from doing the same. Must be he rather see kids with Rickets poor heath outcomes to go with yet another low income housing project.

  20. Carina_roset7/23/2009 11:04 AM

    Great event! And thanks RacinePost for the great article!

  21. "As a taxpayer, it concerns me that the Mayor is ALWAYS showing up at these "fun" events, yet has not once talked about the out of control crime in this city."

    Seriously? Have you read the news lately? Crime is down accross the board in most categories. Some things, like robberies and some types of burglaries are up a little, but for the most part this year is better than last year.

    Is crime really "out of control", or do you just not like seeing black and hispanic people near you?

  22. Very Thoughtful event. Kudos to the ladies and all the others who helped bring it together.

    We need more of these sorts of activities.

    How about school programs?

    Cereal bars and cereal straws, it scares me what children are eating before going to school if they eat at all.

  23. Anon 12:11 PM - I'm not sure I really understand your point. Should the mayor and his family not attend these events? Are you indicating that blacks and hispanic don't like attending fun events. Your post makes absoulutely no sense at all.

  24. 12:11

    Check the calls for 260 Jones. See the police there almost everyday this week. Check the number of arrests. We have video of crowds of over 100 youth corner of 6th and Frank 6th and Harrison.
    Fights reports of gun fire. Summer in West 6th St. See QA getting ready to run for Mayor. Q.A. how about staying home and working with the neighborhood watch group be nice to see you in the area.
    Yes Crime is getting to be an issue again.

  25. Chris at DP Wigley7/23/2009 2:13 PM

    Beautiful, beautiful job Heidi, Stefanie, Amanda, Carina, and everyone who helped to make this happen! It was a total success, and part of the revolution back to a healthier lifestyle for all of us. You guys rock!

    It is wonderful seeing the Mayor out with his wife and kids at various events - he's doing his part by putting his heart and soul into making Racine a better place to live.

    As for crime, I would love to see Racine's Caron Butler get together with Milwaukee's Will Allen of Growing Power and do in Racine (on the Walden School lawn, for one possibility) what Allen has done in Milwaukee and Chicago. He is teaching kids (and adults) how to grow vegetable and flower gardens all over the world, including Cabrini Green. Crime is way down where this is happening, the kids are healthier, and they're learning how to stay that way.

    Thanks again - you worked really hard to put together an awesome event!

  26. Where is Dickert's 10 year plan?

  27. Just saw a Will Allen piece on CAR25, very cool stuff! I believe last nights event was taped and will be shown on CAR25 also. Keep up the good work!

  28. I kind of see where Anon 9:39 is coming from.

  29. The mayor needs to spend less time eating and more time getting the 10 year plan done and distributed to the public.

  30. Chris -

    When Caron B. drops his gang ties, then he will really be a community leader.

  31. Chris doesn't sound so bright.

  32. Chris is a sweet heart who gives to the community. You must not know her.

    We need Will Allen "Growing power" project here in Racine.

    My neighborhood greatly improved when we started front yard gardens. I am not kidding. It is much safer. Gardening brings people outdoors and an alert neighborhood reduces crime.

    Not sure about Caron, the bikes are nice but the same kids get them every year and throw them out when the tires pop or need air. Sad the parents don't fix the tires. It would be nice if he did something different for the community.

  33. The mayor has been made aware of this strong community interest in gardening, Eating right and growing power. He needs to start something soon, because his opponents for the next race might just promise this group of people what they want.

  34. It is so strange that we don't have a community garden project yet. I guess that is the problem with real estate developers for mayor.

  35. Carina_roset7/25/2009 12:51 PM

    There are tons of community garden projects in Racine. Go to rugn.org to see just some of them. There are also many more planned for next spring. Sign in to the site to get involved.

  36. It's fantastic to see the support that we have for Eat Right Racine and the movement towards healthier lifestyles through choices! A thank you goes out to all those who attended and made the event a success. We couldn't have done it without the community! Check us out at www.eatrightracine.org for upcoming events and meeting times.