GLENS FALLS - Sue Duncan started reading food labels, and she was shocked by what she found.
When one of her children recently asked her for a pack of Doublemint gum at the grocery store, she picked it up without much thought. Later, when she read the list of ingredients, she discovered the product contained aspartame, an artificial sweetener.
“I’d like a lot more people to know what is in their food,” said Duncan, a Queensbury mother of four who started paying attention to the food she bought when two of her children developed allergies.
In an era when food allergies seem to be on the rise, Duncan wants more people to give some thought to the things they consume.
“It’s all about education and getting more people to understand,” she said.
In October, she organized a local “March Against Monsanto,” a protest of genetically modified organisms in food and “big agriculture.” Now she is approaching the topic with a different strategy — celebrating the success of local food and producers.
A Food and Farm Festival, sponsored by Glens Falls Food Co-op and Adirondack Dream Catcher Farm, will bring together farmers, educators and consumers for an afternoon of activities Saturday at Crandall Park.
“You have to eat every day, and food is what really makes our health,” Duncan said.
Representatives from the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, a group that works with farmers and consumers on organic farming education, will be on hand to talk about what is going on in the state to encourage the labeling of GMOs in food.
“We are trying to encourage individuals to contact their local government to encourage a bill that would require labeling of genetically modified food,” said Sondra Gjersoe of NOFA.
In the New York state assembly, Bill A 3525 would require companies to divulge any ingredients genetically modified through package labels.
“It’s in its initial stages, and it’s really about getting the word out there. The more constituents that contact them, the more they know that the support is out there,” Gjersoe said.
Vermont recently passed similar legislation, and New York is an important state
for the movement on a national level, according to Gjersoe.
“New York, being such a large state, it would have a huge impact across the country. The more states that get on board, it sort of creates a domino effect,” she said.
While organizing the event, Duncan pushed to get local food producers involved.
“I wanted to have a meet-your-farmer event. I like that I will have farmers with tables offering CSA (community supported agriculture) sign-ups. It gives them more exposure,” she said.
Matt Funiciello, Green Party candidate for the 21st Congressional district and owner of Rock Hill Bakehouse, is scheduled to speak about local food. The program also includes live music, art, petting zoo, pony rides, free organic food samples from local businesses, informaiton on Lyme disease, a lecture on fermentation, a plant swap, a non-GMO food drive and an organic seed giveaway.
Additional participants include Kilpatrick Family Farm, Echo Creek Farm, Glens Falls Farmers’ Market, Tangleroot Farm, Relay for Life, Transition Towns, Rue 46, Yummy Mummy, the Boy Scouts, Riordan Family Farm and local community gardens.
Duncan encourages families to come to the event to learn more about the food they eat.
“It’s important for our future and our kids’ futures,” she said.
If you go
The Food and Farm Festival will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at Crandall Park in Glens Falls. The schedule includes:
noon: live music by Mark Rabin and the Missus
1 p.m.: Matt Funiciello will speak about local food
1:30 p.m.: music by Zack Ignazio and Krishna Chandra
2 p.m.: lecture on fermentation by Chrysalis Cultures