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updated: 10/19/2012 3:41 PM

National Food Day activities last a week in Elgin

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The second annual Food Day has turned into Food Week in Elgin.

Kathleen Haerr, a local food and sustainability enthusiast, jumped on board last year when she heard about Oct. 24 as a day to promote safer, healthier diets, support sustainable and organic farms, reduce hunger, reform factory farms to protect the environment and support fair working conditions for food and farm workers. The national day is organized by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Science in the Public Interest and will be presented locally by the Elgin Green Drinks and Food Transition Group, of which Haerr is a founder.

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"It's something that we all need to have -- food," Haerr said. "It's one of our essentials. It's just gone kind of haywire."

Haerr said her goal for Food Day is to bring awareness back for everybody.

This year's activities start at 2 p.m. Oct. 21 in Elgin's Civic Center Plaza as Food Day organizers support the 30th annual CROP Hunger Walk, where participants raise money to fight worldwide hunger.

Other events throughout the week include booths at Gail Borden Public Library, Sherman Hospital, The Centre of Elgin and during Oct. 27's Nightmare on Chicago Street festival. Haerr said organizers have an art piece planned to show toxic foods that created the zombies, which will trudge rampant in downtown for the creepy festival.

Besides teaching about the food movement, organizers will be collecting food for Feeding Greater Elgin all week long.

For Food Day itself, Oct. 24, an Open Air Farmers Market will take over DuPage Court in downtown Elgin from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. More than a dozen farmers are expected to attend with Mayor David Kaptain reading a Food Day proclamation at 1 p.m.

"Ingredients," a feature-length documentary that explores the local food movement, will be screened at 6 p.m. Oct. 26 at Simple Balance Holistic Center, 221 E. Chicago St., Elgin. Simple Balance and the Downtown Neighborhood Association are sponsors of the week's activities.

Haerr is involved in several food sustainability initiatives, including working with a group of community members to open a food cooperative in Elgin within the next year.

In some ways, the passion for sustainability -- protecting people and the earth, reducing energy use and toxins in local and organic food -- comes down to one, simple idea.

"Eating better tastes better, too," Haerr said.

For details on all the Food Week activities visit foodday.weebly.com.

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