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posted: 9/27/2013 2:40 PM

Learn how to go green at Fox Valley Holistic Health Celebration

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By Gail Gaboda

Are you ready to "green" your life?

Take the first steps at the fifth annual Fox Valley Holistic Health Celebration on Sunday, Sept. 29. Nearly 80 area exhibitors will showcase holistic, organic and environmentally safe products and services outside Soup to Nuts Alternative Grocery, 716 W. State St., Geneva.

The event will begin at 10 a.m. with a Buddhist blessing and end at 4 p.m. with live music by Prichard Harter.

In between, you will find information about aromatherapy and essential oils, holistic parenting, the international Slow Food movement, reiki and massage, green cleaning, yoga and martial arts, holistic medicine and more.

There will be free raffles and giveaways, including stylish tote bags stuffed with coupons, samples and offers for the first 1,200 visitors.

In addition, many new exhibitors have joined the event, including Inspired Quilts; South Dakota Crystals; Autumn Green Animal Hospital; reflexologists; Gungfu Fitness Center; Intention Beads; Nia and Movement Alchemy; and Bhakti Balls, a vegan food option.

Also new this year is an expanded kids' area with hula hoops, games, crafts and activities.

What hasn't changed is the mission of the event, now in its fifth year: To showcase the local holistic practitioners and services available to the Fox Valley community.

"Our intention is to increase awareness of the holistic options to living a happy and healthy life, even in these chaotic times," said JR Carmany, founder of the holistic health fair and owner of Soup to Nuts.

It's also a free opportunity for visitors to "meet and learn from the many talented healers and providers in our local community," she added.

Free and discounted services such as ionizing foot baths, reflexology, chair massage, Thai massage, Reiki and animal totem readings are a great way for visitors to get a hands-on experience at the health fair, Carmany said.

In five years the event has grown and expanded, Carmany said, because "the interest in natural alternatives is growing in the public mind." She has also seen a trend in younger people pursuing careers in alternative therapies.

Every day Carmany fields questions in her store from people wanting to make improvements in their lives.

"This event is an extension to our store's commitment to be an informational resource on holistic health options to the Fox Valley community."

Participants say the holistic health movement has gained traction as Americans educate themselves about the food they eat and the products they use.

For example, local honey provides several advantages over the store-bought version, said Katie Weimer of Heritage Prairie Farm in Elburn.

At the health fair, Heritage Prairie Farm will feature its local Bron's Bee Company raw honey, which provides benefits to those with seasonal allergies and contains more minerals, vitamins, enzymes and antioxidants than the kind that comes in a plastic bear.

"People are more interested in alternative ways of living, whether it's natural medicine or shopping more at farmers markets instead of the grocery store," Weimer said. "People are finding new and better ways to live within their means and incorporate local goods and services to stimulate the local economy."

Those interested in improving the mind-body connection can learn more about yoga, Tai Chi or Qigong.

Tai Chi has been proven in countless clinical studies to be "the most effective way of reducing the risk of falls, it helps lower blood pressure, increases bone density, muscle and flexibility, said John Starsma of Seven Stars Martial Arts, with several schools in DuPage County.

"People can expect to reduce stress and get a sense of relaxation and ease," he added.

There will be resources for those interested in natural body care and cleaning products as well.

"This year we have more aromatherapy products, both personal care and household cleaning supplies, being exhibited," Carmany said. "I think it is indicative of a desire to move away from harmful or questionable toxins in our lives."

Several aromatherapists will be on hand to discuss essential oils.

"My products are all natural therapeutic products for home, bath and body," said Sara Ingram, of essentials Perfume & Aromatherapy in South Elgin. Her products use pure essential oils and nontoxic base ingredients such as nut and seed oils that are good for the skin.

"I provide a healthy alternative to over-the-counter products that are full of nasty chemicals and questionable toxic ingredients that you cannot even pronounce," she said.

Giving visitors a variety of options for healthy living helps them make informed decisions, Carmany said. "The more you know, the better your choices."

For more information, call (630) 232-6646.

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