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Library Public Forum to Tout Benefits of Buying Local Produce

Area residents concerned about where their food is grown and wishing to reduce their ecological footprint can discover the meaning of “locavore” the Oxford American Dictionary’s 2007 Word of the Year at a public forum in Pennsylvania College of Technology’s Madigan Library.

The free event “Herbivore, Omnivore, Locavore!” will be held from 4-5 p.m. Thursday, April 23, in the library’s second-floor reading loft. Chef Michael J. Ditchfield, instructor of hospitality management/culinary arts, and School of Hospitality students will discuss the health benefits and environmental consciousness of being a “locavore” someone who buys food from farmers close to home. Light refreshments will be served.

Through his alliance with the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Ditchfield long has been a proponent of buying locally, taking advantage of the bolder flavors and healthier choices among organically grown produce, as well as cheeses, honey, flowers and grass-fed meats. He and his Penn College faculty colleagues regularly take students to the seasonal Williamsport Growers Market, challenging them to create dishes solely from on-site wares.

Previewing his presentation, Ditchfield said he wants to go beyond the importance of supporting local vendors and begin a discussion about building food and business networks. With gasoline prices again creeping upward and suburban sprawl taking people farther from where they work, he said, such collaborations will become essential.

“We still have the best chance to achieve this in the Northeast, where we have many of our small communities intact,” Ditchfield said. “We still have rural areas and green spaces. We still have an abundance of water. We can go ‘back to the future’ in terms of energy sources, if need be like hydroelectric and explore new alternatives.”

Ditchfield said he also wants to get people thinking about where their food comes from: “They continue to support business as usual. They continue to place too much value on convenience. I also would like to remind them that one place their vote always counts is at the cash register.”

To learn more about academic programs offered by the School of Hospitality at Penn College, visit online or call (570) 327-4505.

For more on Madigan Library events, e-mail, visit on the Web or call (570) 327-4523.

For more information about Penn College, visit online, e-mail or call toll-free (800) 367-9222.