An Earth Day YouTube collaboration with Florida Coastal Cooking & Wellness

Happy Earth Day everyone! I hope you’re enjoying some awareness on this beautiful day. Huh? That’s right, awareness. I hope you’re out there noticing how beautiful this world is and how fragile it is in the face of a force as powerful as…us. I also hope you’re aware of, or becoming aware of, how much we really can do to preserve and protect our beautiful planet.

My friend Dawn Hutchins of Florida Coastal Cooking & Wellness has a unique and valuable perspective on awareness that is important to keep in mind:

Sometimes the truth is uncomfortable because we have big hearts and we feel powerless. But here’s the truth. We aren’t powerless. We can change the world together – IF we see what really happens in the world, and then stop and think, “Could there be another way? What can I do?”

I would encourage all you Organic Adventurers to read the rest of what Dawn has to say about awareness in her latest post.

Recently, I teamed up with Dawn to provide some awareness to participants in FCC&W’s Diet Reset Program of the positive impact a plant-based diet makes. The result is my first YouTube appearance ever! But we’ll get to that in a second. First, Dawn is an old friend whose awareness journey, particularly when it comes to the impact of food and diet, I’ve had the privilege to witness firsthand. What’s always impressed me, aside from her genius and creativity in recipe development, is that she approaches pretty much everything she does with an eye for helping other people, from the beginning, when she was helping her daughter overcome and cope with multiple food allergies and digestive issues, all the way to becoming a wellness coach and successfully completing Dr. T. Collin Campbell’s Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition.

FCC&W’s Dawn Hutchins digging potatoes at our CSA farm’s potluck, where we first met WAY back in the day. I’m sure she’ll be just as thrilled to see this picture as she looked when I first took it!

So when this consummate entrepreneur told me about her new Diet Reset Program earlier this spring, participating was a no-brainer for me. See, this program isn’t part of the fad bandwagon of detoxes, juice cleanses or handfuls of supplements. It’s based on the solid science of the healthfulness of a plant-based diet; it’s based on developing and maintaining good habits; and it’s based on getting the right information and support to achieve real health goals: more energy, better sleep, awareness of what your body needs, nutritionally and behaviorally, and the most healthful ways to fulfill those needs.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Yes, I already eat a plant-based diet, and so do many of you Adventurers. Many of us also exercise, meditate and are pretty “aware” as it is. But I know Dawn and, especially after looking through the program materials, I knew that even I would learn something and get a lot out of doing the Diet Reset Program. And I did: everything from practical tips on preparing and storing smoothies ahead of time for quick, energizing snacks to the motivation to get back into good habits of mindfulness, like practicing gratitude, and more. There were other people like me in my class of “Resetters,” and there were people who hadn’t really considered diet or awareness as drivers of health before. And we all got so much out of the program.

One of the many great practical tips I learned from the Diet Reset Program was a genius way to prepare and store veggie & fruit smoothies ahead of time. So convenient!

So when Dawn wanted to interview The Organic Adventurer in order to give future “Resetters” a concrete sense of the positive impact they were having on their own health and the environment, that was an easy “yes” as well. Read her post above for her take on it and the video. I’ve also embedded the video here. Let me know what you think about my maiden voyage into YouTube land; I’d love to hear your feedback!

The next round of FCC&W’s Diet Reset Program will be starting soon, so get in touch with Dawn to reserve your place. Also, know that Florida Coastal Cooking & Wellness is not sponsoring this post or compensating TOA in any way. It’s just a great business doing great things for our planet and its inhabitants, and I wanted to tell all you Adventurers about it!

P.S. Dawn’s Earth Day post was inspired by a “trashy” experience. (Seriously, read the post.) If you’d like to learn more about reducing waste and overconsumption, and have a fun Earth Day night out while you’re doing it, join me at Sun-Ray Cinema in Jacksonville tonight for the U.S. Green Building Council North Florida’s Green Carpet film series. They’ll be screening The Clean Bin Project. Then contact me to find out how you can go green and save a ton of money while you’re at it!

Before you go, comment with your favorite way to reduce waste and/or avoid excess consumption. We’d love to your stories!

Post-Feast…(er, Fest!)

The inaugural GastroFest has come and gone, and by all accounts it was a huge success. Beautiful Hemming Park was the perfect setting last Saturday for the masses to enjoy Northeast Florida food and food culture. And were there ever masses! The last numbers we heard, which may not be the final tally, were that over 30,000 people came out to sip, savor, socialize, and support our local foodshed.

There was so much to see, do, taste and learn that we couldn’t post or tweet fast enough to let everyone know about it! So we decided to do a whole post full of pictures. Were you there? Comment on this post and let us know what your favorite part, activity, event or vendor was.

We couldn’t think of an “s” for it earlier, but the all-day rotation of great bands on the D’Land Music Stage provided an aural backdrop for the buzz of activity that day.

Speaking of buzzes, we weren’t able to make it over to the cocktail competition at the Candy Apple, but we heard it was a blast! Beer seemed popular with everyone from morning visitors to the beer tent…

Breakfast? Well, they say beer’s liquid bread, right?

…to the Beer Apostle’s homebrew competitions in the special events tent.

Jolly judges!

But wine was not to be outdone. One event that we were especially excited to be a part of was the Vegan Wine and Cheese tasting in the special events tent.

Happy vegans!

Todd, with Republic National, did a great job of explaining what makes some wines vegan and others not as he offered tastings of two whites and two reds.

Todd Paschall explaining the distinction between vegan and non-vegan wine.

Meanwhile, we were so busy serving and talking with people about SunRAWise‘s fantastic plant-based “cheeses” that we didn’t even have a chance to snap a pic of the platter. Attendees had the opportunity to sample a wide variety though: Original, Blue Vein, Italian Herb, Rosemary, Smoke & Spicy, and Smoked Gouda. Those there who didn’t already know and love this non-dairy, healthy cheese alternative became instant fans.

Speaking of not having time to snap pics, there were so many representatives of our local foodshed there, there was no way we could visit them all. And some, like FreshJax, we visited several times and just spaced on taking any pictures, I guess. (But you can see them in the right corner of the photo above!) We were also SO hungry that we forgot to take pictures of Tapa That’s aMAZing vegan meatballs before we wolfed them down. (What was IN that magic citrus sauce, Chef Coutu?!) Truly, the participation by our local farmers; co-ops; urban agriculture educators; food businesses and chefs who are interested in healthy, plant-based eating; those who are effecting social change through food; and more was overwhelming and we would like to thank ALL of them for participating and showing everyone what Jax is doing to make the world a better place.

A few more pics:

Matthew and Devon representing Dig Local, a not-for-profit that works to connect people to better food.

Heather Borders, of Kailo Nutrition was there, talking with people about transitioning to a plant-based diet.

Did you know that rice is being grown right here in Jax? Farmer Scott Meyer and Amy O’Hoyt of Congaree and Penn were there to spread the word.

Brett, from Down to Earth Farm, presented “Supporting Local Agriculture” in the theatre at MOCA. Many thanks to MOCA’s Denise Reagan for being the hostess with the mostess for the day’s presentations!

Conscious Eats’ Florence Haridan doing a cooking demo.

Florence was also one of the panelists for the “Food and Social Good” discussion, along with Brett Swearingen of the North Florida School of Special Education’s Berry Good Farm; Kim Fore of the Children’s Home Society of Florida; and Angela TenBroeck of Traders Hill Farms. On the left is GastroJax’s Executive Director, Erin Thursby, moderating the panel.

In our presentation on “Eating Sustainably in Jacksonville,” we mentioned all the different ways one can find and buy local food, including co-ops like Local Fare.

There were so many local, small prepared-food businesses there, like Community Loaves, Bold City Pops and, of course, SunRAWise, a Fest supporter from the very beginning.


SunRAWise has such a wide variety!

Did everyone do some shopping at GastroFest? We sure did!

The SunRAWise cashew cream cheese was gone before we could get any pics of the creations we used it in, but here’s some of what we did with the rest of it:

True confession: We’d never had rice grits before; if you haven’t either, do it! Congaree and Penn’s are the creamiest, most delicious thing ever and will be making a regular appearance on TOA’s menu from now on!

FreshJax’s Coconut Curry was a new try for us. We used it as a breading for sprouted tofu on a bed of sautéed broccoli greens. Delicious!

We do hope everyone had as good a time at GastroFest as we did. Comment and tell us about your experience!