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November 18, 2011   Email to Friend 

Melissa Martin
(334) 612-5448
November 18, 2011

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Volunteers across Alabama are tackling the obesity epidemic this month by promoting healthy food choices during National Farm-City Week Nov. 18-24.

Alabama Farm-City Chairman Jeff Helms said this year's theme, "Harvesting Healthy Choices," is an opportunity to correct the myth that modern agriculture -- rather than lifestyle choices -- is to blame for America's expanding waistline.

"This theme gives our farmers an opportunity to join forces with their city neighbors and sponsor educational programs and activities aimed at creating a healthier Alabama," Helms said. "As concern over our country's weight problem grows, Farm-City Week 2011 can be the event people rally around to make a difference in their communities."

The theme coincides with the recent release of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's "MyPlate" nutritional guide, which calls for a balanced diet including fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy products.

"For Alabama farmers, 'Harvesting Healthy Choices' gives the agricultural community a chance to talk about the health benefits of locally grown produce and other foods," Helms added. "The bone-building power of milk; the leaner choices in beef, pork, poultry and catfish; the importance of folic acid-rich peanuts to expectant mothers; the cancer-fighting properties of soybeans, and the antioxidant power of blueberries are just a few of the messages that can be incorporated into this years's theme."

Farm-City Week was founded in 1955 and strives to foster better understanding between farmers and their urban neighbors. In Alabama, Farm-City activities include a poster and essay contest for students as well as Farm-City banquets, tours, media events, civic club presentations and breakfasts for elected officials and business leaders.

Three years ago, the National Farm-City Council revitalized efforts to strengthen consumer trust of production agriculture by adopting a strategic plan that focuses on a single, potentially divisive issue each year. Past topics have included hunger, animal welfare and the coverage of agriculture by the news media. This year, obesity will be spotlighted at the National Farm-City Symposium Nov. 17 in Lexington, Ky.

In Alabama, Helms expects "Harvesting Healthy Choices" to prompt local volunteers to feature healthier food choices at their Farm-City Week events and plan more activities that emphasize nutrition education and exercise.

"Healthy food doesn't have to be all about tofu and bean sprouts. A 5-ounce portion of lean beef or pork can be part of a balanced diet, and milk, cheese, bread and even fried catfish still have a place on America's dinner table," Helms said. "Eating well and living well are about choices, and this year's Farm-City Week theme gives us a chance to highlight the bounty of healthy options produced by Alabama's farm families."

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