I went to the Hot Springs farmers market at 7am on Saturday morning. Between 8am and noon five of us stood behind different tables in the interest of providing food/health education to folks coming to the market. We have always called this annual event “Food Day.”  So maybe people would come down our little row of tables and let each of us do our spiel. Maybe!  I had the first table. I did a cursory introduction to my book (and actually sold one) and then I talked about processed (cooked) food and ultra-processed food produced by the commercial food industry. On Friday before I spent about $30 at the grocery store on ultra-processed food like soybean oil, flour, bread, macaroni and cheese, etc. Sometimes people need to actually see the label and long list of totally not-understandable list of ingredients to get the picture.  To encourage interest we had an occasional random drawing for cooking/kitchen items. Those who moved through the line got their chance to “win” something. Despite this little marketing ploy the line was not long. So why would that be?   On occasion a mom would bring a child hoping we could convince her not to drink cokes. The child usually had a coke in their hand. Of course making a health case to a child is an exercise in futility. Only a parent can actually manage the eating habits of a child. Perhaps mom doesn’t really know WHY that coke is bad and may be better positioned to do her mom-job in the future because of “Food Day.”    And a few people went through the line just to be in the drawing. They usually got some little food education thing along the way.  Occasionally I say just the right thing and a person actually buys the book and decides to learn more. That did happen on Saturday. But otherwise we were just “preaching to the choir.” In fact, this is just like church.  To the largest degree the people sitting in the pews at church are there because they already believe. The preacher is preaching hard to make them better understand what “believing” means in living their lives. But the folks out on the street aren’t hearing and don’t even suspect they might need that message. Only the “choir” is hearing the message.  So the choir at “Food Day” wanders through the line, assuring us all along the way that they don’t drink those awful soft drinks and power drinks. Confident that white bread is a bad thing but maybe 12 grain bread is good?  My goodness no, they would certainly never buy a boxed macaroni and cheese but had no idea that vegetable oils were bad. We drop a little gem to each along the way and they become better “believers.” My column in this paper and my website blogs are my version of “Food Day.” You who are in the choir are getting gems. You who are on the street and just happen onto my column may decide to consider joining the church, learning about the whole jewelry box instead of just the rings. The preacher and I can’t get into a fret because there haven’t been massive conversions today. One conversion at a time is to be celebrated.  Welcome to “Food Day.”   

Pat Smith is the author of “It’s All about the Food,” a book that guides nutritious food choices as the way to avoid illness and maintain a healthy weight. All proceeds from her book benefit the Montgomery County Food Pantry. Pat is a resident of Montgomery County, AR, president of Ouachita Village, Inc. board of directors (Montgomery County Food Pantry), and president of the Mount Ida Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors. Her website is  HYPERLINK “http://allaboutthefood.org/http://allaboutthefood.org/, telephone number 870-490-1836, email  HYPERLINK “mailto:patsmith2@live.com” patsmith2@live.com

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