LAFAYETTE — Locavores — people who favor and promote eating food that’s grown locally — will unite Saturday for Acadiana Food Day at the Lafayette Farmers and Artisans Market at the Horse Farm on Johnston Street.
“What we are trying to focus on is the real food — the local food — and to educate Acadiana on a healthy and sustainable way of life,” said Michelle MacFadyen, Food Day committee chairperson and owner of Great Harvest Bread Co.
MacFadyen founded the local Food Day event four years ago in Great Harvest’s parking lot as a celebration of healthy, affordable and sustainable sustenance.
She said attendees can expect cooking demos using seasonal ingredients, gardening exhibits, live music and children’s activities, including food-related arts and crafts and a scavenger hunt.
MacFadyen said she expects more than 3,000 attendees at this year’s event, a major increase from the event’s first year that welcomed only 50 people.
The event, scheduled for 8 a.m. to noon, also will feature Lafayette’s first public “heirloom seed swap” where gardeners will have an opportunity to trade their favorite seeds.
Food Day comes as there has been rising interest in general in the area for homegrown food, which has been showing up more and more on local menus.
Recently, Phares restaurant updated its menu to include items made from produce grown in surrounding areas. Other local restaurants, including Saints Street Inn and Jolie’s Louisiana Bistro, are now known working to source as many ingredients as possible from local farmers.
“Because you are working with the seasons when you use local produce, you have a broader creativity with the food,” said Kelsey Leger, head chef at Saint Street Inn. “There is an obvious difference in the food when, as a chef, you use stuff that’s been picked from the garden 15 minutes before. The flavor is amazing. It’s sweeter. It’s brighter. It’s more acidic. The food is what it’s supposed to be.”
Leger said every item on the restaurant’s menu has some variety of ingredients grown locally, and some of the ingredients come straight from the restaurant’s own garden.
“People are realizing the disconnect between themselves and the current food supply,” said Daphne Olivier, registered dietitian and Food Day committee volunteer.
Leger said a lack of education about food is one reason why the food supply has become so poor.
“When you buy locally, you’re supporting more than local food,” Leger said. “You’re supporting your health. You’re supporting your family, and you’re supporting your community.”