March 4, 2011
Expo presents options for being healthy
6th annual event at J.M. McDonald Sports Complex encourages people to eat right, stay active
Cortland County residents learned Thursday about the merits of buying local produce, staying active and cooking healthy foods during the Health and Fitness Expo at the J.M. McDonald Sports Complex.
The sixth annual expo featured live yoga and cooking demonstrations, interactive displays and a “Mighty Molar” character to remind children of the importance of proper dental hygiene.
Tom Quinn, director of marketing at Cortland Regional Medical Center, said the hospital sponsors the event yearly as the major health care provider in Cortland County.
The hospital’s display featured rehabilitation options such as Wii computer games and a large Labrador mix named Abe who visits patients and helps with certain types of therapies.
Willing participants could also have their lung capacity tested by exhaling vigorously into a tube that monitored their pulmonary function.
For the visitor who wanted a less demanding and more tasty experience, people gathered around a cooking demonstration put on by the Cortland County Area Agency on Aging.
Rachelle Sherman and Kelly Evans, who work and volunteer with the agency’s nutrition program, cooked quesadillas, mixed salsa and processed smoothies before an attentive audience.
Patty Armstrong, director of the nutrition program, said the food being prepared was an example of healthy, light food.
“It is cooking for one or two, it can be used for a snack, a dessert or breakfast,” Armstrong said, adding the exhibit placed an emphasis on buying local produce.
Dairy products, like the yogurt required for the smoothies and some fruits like the drink’s fresh strawberries, can be purchased from local farmers, as well as the salsa ingredients like tomatoes and peppers.
Buying local produce is a message that is being promoted through the group Leadership Cortland, an organization designed to help areas of the community that need it and is sponsored by the Cortland County Chamber of Commerce and Tompkins Cortland Community College.
The group is focusing on spreading the message about the benefits of buying local produce, said Christine Hannon, one of the team members for the group’s “buy local” project.
Hannon said the group’s exhibit that was set up Thursday was designed to educate consumers about the importance of keeping money in the local economy, stress the health benefits of locally grown produce, and supply information for producers and consumers to connect with one another.
Posters advocating local farms and fliers with contact information for local producers were on display.
Cortland resident Sherri Masterson, herself a wellness teacher, said she came to the expo because she wanted to learn the latest information about the food pyramid, which she said is constantly changing.
“I like everything about wellness and I always can learn more things,” Masterson said.
The Cortland County Health Department had a large display designed to impress upon the viewer the successful marketing tactics of the tobacco industry.
Jennifer Hamilton, a public health educator and program coordinator of Tobacco Free Cortland, said there is a statewide initiative to get grocery stores to hide their tobacco products from view so they are not visible to children.
The display featured a child-size mannequin gazing at a colorful display wall of cigarette choices and tobacco advertisements.
“Research is showing that kids are more likely to recall seeing tobacco ads and products, than adults are,” Hamilton said.
Once these advertisements have reached children, Hamilton said, the marketing is successful.
“Exposure to tobacco marketing in stores is the primary cause of youth smoking,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton said P&C stores agreed to keep their tobacco products concealed from view, often enclosing the wall of cigarettes behind a curtain or in cabinetry.
Hamilton said the goal is for all stores to do this.
Dryden resident Annette Spearman came to the expo because she had never been before.
Spearman, who takes “jazzercise” dance fitness classes, talked with an instructor to find out about other scheduling options.
Spearman had no expectations of the expo.
“It is something I didn’t know anything about so I just checked it out,” she said as she went to check out other booths on display.
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