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The University of Delaware’s Cooperative Extension Family and Consumer Sciences program has been making its rounds to farmers markets throughout New Castle County, preparing ingredients and conducting demonstrations in order to raise public awareness about healthy eating.
The program is led by Maria Pippidis, New Castle County Extension director and a family and consumer sciences extension educator, who said that the demonstrations “promote easy and simple no-cook recipes that use seasonal ingredients and provide visitors with the chance to taste the recipes and maybe even try an ingredient they haven’t tried before.”
Overall, several volunteer UD dietetics students have visited 18 different markets throughout the county during the summer months, reaching 809 visitors and distributing 400 copies of healthy recipes.
Monica Marcial-Gutierrez, a UD alumnus who graduated in 2016 with a degree in dietetics and now works with Cooperative Extension, and Regina Santangelo, a volunteer for the demonstration who also graduated in 2016 with a degree in dietetics, led a demonstration in Rockwood Park, where they presented a corn and black bean salsa recipe.
“The whole point of doing these demonstrations is to show people what to do with in-season vegetables and also to encourage them to buy local produce. Our aim is also to show people how to make it, and just how easy it can be,” said Marcial-Gutierrez.
At Rockwood, the corn and black bean salsa was served with a side of chips for sampling and the ingredients were simple, fresh and easy to find.
One of the goals of Cooperative Extension is to educate the public on just how easy healthy eating can be. “Salsas like this are very popular, and you don’t have to be a cook in order to do it,” said Santangelo.
In some areas of Delaware, finding fresh food can be difficult, and all that may be available is fast food or processed food.
“I think it’s important for people to have access to fresh and healthy food. Some people don’t even know what to do with the food once they have the ingredients,” said Marcial-Gutierrez. “We get many questions from our visitors. For example, a visitor may ask, ‘Where do you get [the ingredients] and what do you do with it?’ I tell them, ‘You can get it right here, and here’s a nice recipe you can make with some of the ingredients.’”
“Cooperative Extension has a long history of helping local agricultural producers grow foods and be profitable, as well as providing nutrition education,” Pippidis said. “This project has helped us address both initiatives by linking local growers who are glad to have new clientele visit their booths for ingredients they just learned about from our farmers market food demonstration project.”
UD Cooperative Extension will hold demonstrations on Friday, Sept. 30, from 4-6 p.m., and Friday, Oct. 29, from 4-6 p.m., at the Southbridge Youth Farm Stands at the Neighborhood House in Wilmington.
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