Festival Organizers Hope To Serve Up Healthy Meals In Harlem
06/16/2008 06:34 PM
It's a part of the city that has some of the highest rates of obesity and diabetes, and finding the healthiest foods isn't always easy. NY1 Health & Fitness reporter Kafi Drexel has a preview of food festival in Harlem meant to "green up" healthy appetites.
Husband and wife team Lillian Butler and Eddie Robinson are blending up and serving up one of their signature health smoothies -- coconut dream.
Food and tips on healthy living from their Harlem restaurant Raw Soul, will be some of what's featured during Harlem's first-ever Green Foods Festival.
"We have been advocating health and we are in Harlem because we believe in educating the community about health, and providing good food, making it accessible to the community," said Butler.
The festival is coming at a time when obesity and diabetes rates in Harlem continue to be much higher than other parts of the city. The community-organized event also comes in reaction to a 2007 city Health Department report that showed corner stores in some Harlem neighborhoods are half as likely to carry low-fat dairy products and seven times less likely to sell green vegetables.
Organizers say they're hoping to serve up healthy alternatives.
"We have a lot of people who eat meat, and they eat vegetables. So we're saying try more vegetables in your diet and show how important that really is," said festival organizer Ahijah Mitchell.
"If you know you can enjoy some of the good food that is healthy for you, know that there's good food out there that you can help to lower your high blood pressure, that can really help you and get lined up with yourself so you won't have such a high risk of diabetes," said co-organizer Benyamin Bridges. "If you eat the right foods, it is really going to make a huge difference in how your health is."
One of the biggest complaints when it comes to better eating is access to healthier foods. The people at Raw Soul and those behind the festival are hoping to educate the community on their options and where they can find them.
"We know that, 'Hey, I can walk down the block and I can go to a green cart, and I can get some vegetables, some collards, I can get some spinach, and I can get some Swiss chard into my diet, and prepare that for my family,'" said Mitchell. "It doesn't have to take a half hour or forty-five minutes, it's simple and it is easy, and it's nutrition."
The Harlem Green Foods Festival takes place Saturday, June 21st from noon to 6 p.m. And it is happening in two locations, Marcus Garvey Park at 124th Street and Fifth Avenue, and the Wellness Pavillion in the National Black Theatre at 125th Street and Fifth Avenue.
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- Kafi Drexel
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