It is a sweltering Tuesday afternoon in July and chef Todd Jacobs is driving to Raleigh’s Poultry Farm in Kings Park to pick up poultry and game for his Bridgehampton-based restaurant, Fresh Hamptons.
Many chefs today talk about their commitment to farm-to-table cuisine, but Mr. Jacobs practices what he preaches, to the extreme, going to the source and selecting ingredients himself. His dedication to local, chemical-free food products made it a no-brainer for Slow Foods East End to choose him to cook the “Food Riot” dinner during a weekend expo of preventive health and sustainable technology put on by Turtle Shell Health at Dodds & Eder in Sag Harbor.
The event is planned for Saturday and Sunday, July 27 and 28, and aims to educate residents of the Hamptons about natural healing. There will be multiple exhibitors, ranging from yogis to acupuncturists, and from naturopaths to wellness centers.
On Saturday night, Mr. Jacobs will be cooking a casual, family-style dinner to benefit Slow Food East End. Jeffrey M. Smith, a leading consumer advocate for the promotion of healthy, non-genetically modified organism choices, will be the keynote speaker. Additionally, Mr. Smith’s new documentary, “Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of Our Lives,” will be screened on Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m.
The East End chapter of Slow Foods began approximately a decade ago, with Ted Conklin, owner of The American Hotel in Sag Harbor, as its founding leader. Since then, the non-profit has aimed to instill the value of slowing down and cooking fresh food at home.
“Our mission is to encourage, spread the word about people eating good food, fair food, local, seasonal …” said Linda Slezak, a Slow Foods East End leader (which is what the organization calls its board members), during a phone interview from her home in Hampton Bays on Monday. “Food prepared the right way, using natural ingredients, we are the antithesis of fast food.”
One of the things that Slow Foods likes to promote is communal eating. Sitting down and sharing food with like-minded people. Making a connection and discussing how to make the world a better place through better eating habits is an important part of the Slow Foods movement, and these are sentiments that Mr. Jacobs shares and practices in his restaurant.
“I’ve been involved with them since they started on the East End,” the chef said. “Slow Foods was a natural fit for me, that’s been my mantra since I first moved here. There is very little local food in the restaurants here … so I started driving from farm to farm, getting tomatoes in one, getting fish from local fishermen, and I developed relationships with fishermen and farmers.”
The dinner Mr. Jacobs will be serving will be as local as possible. The menu includes beef and dairy from Mecox Bay Dairy in Water Mill; farm-raised oysters from Peconic Pride Oysters in Water Mill, the shells hand-scrubbed daily by owner Howard Pickerell to keep the shells parasite free; and assorted vegetables from various local farms.
“It brings together a great group of people who want to change the world, slow everyone down,” Mr. Jacobs said. “People get together, have a conversation and enjoy the food and the people.”
While Mr. Jacobs will be providing local food options for dinner attendees, the keynote speaker will be educating the diners on just how bad genetically modified organisms actually are. Mr. Smith first learned about GMOs 17 years ago from a molecular biologist and has been studying the maladies of them and writing about it ever since. He has two books out on the subject, “Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies about the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You’re Eating” and “Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods.” His mission is to stop people from buying and consuming genetically engineered food.
“Stop eating GMOs. Then share the information with others so that they too can protect themselves,” he wrote last week during an email interview.
Mr. Smith has extensively studied the maladies faced by livestock being fed feed with GMOs. He’s made the correlation to people with similar health problems.
“The American Academy of Environmental Medicine, after analyzing animal feeding studies, concluded that GMO feed caused gastrointestinal problems, organ damage, reproductive problems, like infertility, and immune system issues. They also identified problems with cholesterol and insulin,” he wrote. “They urged all doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets to all patients. Thousands of physicians are doing just that and many report that people are getting better in the same categories of diseases and disorders that afflict lab animals.”
The two-day event aims to provide an opportunity for people to be exposed to a plethora of health-related topic, including how good fresh local food is and raising awareness about the dangers of GMOs.
“The event is kind of like an outdoor fair of exhibitors from various health related companies, not just food health, but ecological things,” Ms. Slezak explained. “Kind of like a farmers market of health-related companies.”
The Hamptons Preventive Health and Sustainable Technology Expo will be held on Saturday July 27, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday July 28, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Day passes are $25.The Food Riot dinner will be held on Saturday, July 27, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Tickets to the dinner are $150, or $75 to attend the cocktail party. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit mastersofhealthandwellness.com.