Rutgers' cooperative extension in Cape May Court House wants people to learn about nutrition, literally from the ground up.

The faculty today is partnering with Slow Food of the South Jersey Shore to localize the second annual World Food Day, started by the national Center for Science in the Public Interest. The day is meant to engage Americans in a national conversation about healthy, whole, slow foods, where they come from and how they enhance our health.

"It think the time was right, they felt enough people were already talking about this. A lot of people want to pay more attention to the food they eat and eat healthier," says Marilou Rochford, a family and community health educator who runs the Cape May extension for Rutgers. "We want people to come together and enjoy food together, take mini workshops and learn from the inside out."

Demonstrations will include everything from seed starting to dehydrating fruit.

Depot Market of Cape May will cater a buffet-style lunch representing all the parts of "My Plate," the FDA's new standard for a healthy diet that is approximately 75 percent plant-based - with about 50 percent of that being from fruits and vegetables and 25 percent being whole grains - and one quarter lean protein including low-fat dairy. Rochford says the menu is a surprise, but the meal is guaranteed to contain "a whole bunch of locally-grown vegetables" designed to please a variety of palates.

Teaching by showing is kind of a strong point for people such as Rochford, who will lead the first workshop, "It's Time To Eat Real" at

12:45 p.m. She'll introduce healthier substitutes for processed foods and talk about what produce is in season now in New Jersey.

"It's always best when you can eat locally-grown vegetables," she says. "If you see an apple comes from, say Chile, think of what has to happen to transport that apple in that state all the way to New Jersey. It was probably treated with gas and preservatives to make it look nice. So you want apples grown closer, I think."

Part of getting started on a sustainable home garden is knowing what to plant where and when to plant it, and who to ask such questions. Farmers from the Beach Plum Farm and Rutgers master gardeners will be on hand to share tips. And Rutgers faculty will give free workshops throughout the afternoon on "Gardening For Little Ones," "Soil 101" and "Seed Starting 101."

Local artisans will show how to make cheese and bake bread in a clay oven. And brave would-be beekeepers can check out a live beehive and learn honey making from professionals. A little less messy will be a demonstration on dehydrating produce at

1:15 p.m. and "Vine and Dine" at

4 p.m.

A book signing by "Menus and Memories from Punjab: Meals to Nourish Body and Soul" author Veronica Sidhu will be held at 5:30 p.m. Entry is $5. Sidhu will discuss her book, along with the healing powers of Indian spices and offer a sampling of the cuisine.

Attendees are encouraged to bring a donation of non-perishable food for the FoodBank of South Jersey. In keeping with the healthy food theme, Rochford encourages jars of peanut butter or whole-grain cereals such as oatmeal, as fresh produce is more difficult to store and dispense of safely.

Contact Felicia Compian:


Food Day

Noon to 7 p.m. today at Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Cape May County, 355 Court House, South Dennis Road, Cape May Court House. Lunch at noon, $9; demonstrations and workshops start at 12:45 p.m., free; book signing 5:30 p.m., $5. Call 609-465-5115.