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Celebrate this yummy observance by making it local

Food Day is Oct. 24. Never heard of it? It’s like Earth Day, but yummier.

Food Day is a celebration of healthy, affordable, and sustainable food and a campaign for better food policies. It strives to:

▪ Promote safer, healthier diets.

▪ Support sustainable and organic farms.

▪ Reduce hunger.

▪ Reform factory farms to protect the environment and animals.

▪ Support fair working conditions for food and farm workers.

How can you join in the celebration? Throw a dinner party. Nothing beats delicious food, great company and stimulating conversation. Thinking and talking about local food, as well as sharing the sense of community that food can bring, is what Food Day is all about.

The Kansas City Food Day locals have even put together a Food Day Dinner Kit that includes a fine collection of recipes from local chefs, farmers and foodies, conversation starters and Kansas City trivia questions.

Seasonally inspired recipes, such as my own recipe for Local Sweet Potato and Apple Gratin, Grilled Apple Cider Pork Chops from barbecue expert Duane Daugherty and Rustic Sage Cake from KC Food Circle Committee member Emily Akins are included this year in the kit.

These recipes surely will give your guests something to talk about. The best part is the recipes and the resources included in the kit can be used all year long.

The Kansas City Food Day Dinner Kit, more recipes, and information about Food Day events in Kansas City can be found at www.fooddaykc.org.

Under the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food Day is coordinated locally by a committed group of nonprofits, businesses and individuals with a passion for healthy, sustainable, affordable food. Events throughout the metro area help raise awareness of the importance of a strong and fair local food system and of eating healthy foods.

I think it’s really important to check out Kansas City’s signature Food Day event, Apple Share. For the third year in a row, volunteers will fan out across the area to hand out fresh apples and encourage people to “Eat Real!” Yes, I said it right here, free apples across Kansas City. You have to love that.

You might consider joining Kansas City’s Food Day activities by hosting a Food Day dinner party either at your home with family or friends, at a neighborhood community center or at your workplace with co-workers.

If you would like to dine out, many restaurants in Greater Kansas City will be celebrating Food Day by featuring an apple-inspired dish. Check www.fooddaykc.org or follow Food Day-Greater Kansas City on Facebook for a list of participating restaurants.

Eat well! Eat Local! Celebrate Local!

Grazie!

Jasper’s Local Sweet Potato and Apple Gratin

4 tablespoons Shatto Butter

1 1/2 pounds local sweet potatoes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Freshly grated nutmeg

1 1/4 cups Shatto Cream

1/2 cup Farm to Market Bread crumbs

Wash and peel and slice sweet potatoes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a 10-inch skillet, melt two tablespoons butter. Over medium-high heat, saute the apples until slightly caramelized.

Place the potatoes in a medium bowl and season with salt, cinnamon, pepper and nutmeg. Pour cream over th potatoes and mix well.

Butter a 10-inch grain dish and layer with half the potatoes, one overlapping the other. Cover with the apples and arrange the remaining potatoes on top. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour, or until the potatoes are tender.

Remove from the oven. Turn the oven to 500 degrees. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the potatoes and dot with the remaining butter. Bake 5 minutes and serve.

Chef Jasper’s Notes: Believe it or not, the sweet potato is not a potato, not even a distant cousin. Potatoes are truly tubers; sweet potatoes are roots. Sweet potatoes have been around since prehistoric times and are as American as apple pie and even more so. Native Americans were already growing sweet potatoes when Columbus came to these shores in 1492. Sweet potatoes can be baked, boiled, broiled, stuffed, steamed, stir-fried, microwaved or served raw.

Jamie Milks contributed to this post

Chef Jasper J. Mirabile Jr. of Jasper’s runs his family’s 59-year-old restaurant, consistently rated one of Kansas City’s best Italian restaurants. In addition to running the restaurant with his brother, Mirabile is a culinary instructor, founding member of Slow Food Kansas City and a national board member of the American Institute of Wine and Food. He is host to many famous chefs on his weekly radio show “Live! From Jasper’s Kitchen” on KCMO 710 AM and 103.7 FM. He also sells dressings and sauces.

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