First Food is Art Event is a Hit

Who hasn’t heard the phrase, ‘you eat with your eyes first”? It is often said in reference to the idea that when food is presented more aesthetically on a plate, our minds register the devouring of that meal as an impending satisfying experience. We are not just eating the food, we are experiencing the food; we are taking in the shapes, colors, and even the way everything is orchestrated together on the plate. At the first ever Food is Art event, hosted by BCAT and sponsored by Buffalo Niagara Medical Center’s Spark Grant, this concept was well on display.

Connie Ervin, the CEO of Aunt Connie’s Ed-u-Kitchen LLC, who partnered with BCAT for this event, said “ Appealing food presentation is important to encourage people to try new things. If it looks good, nine times out of ten you can get a person to try it.”

In addition to this concept, visitors were also challenged to live healthier as a whole, including incorporating exercise and conscious eating into their lives.

The Food is Art event, which took place June 8th, served as a small health and wellness expo, free of charge for the Buffalo community. Adults and children alike came to partake in the festivities. There was a station where participants could break a sweat and dance with BCAT’s dance teaching artist, Blackstar, an Independent Health station for curious visitors to learn about the amount of sugar in some of our favorite drinks, and a station where visitors could pick from a variety of vegetable and herb seeds and leave with a new plant of their own.

In addition to visiting those stations, participants had the opportunity to conceptualize and design a work of art made entirely of fruits and vegetables. Art supplies for the activity included radishes, red apples, slices of bright yellow lemons, green limes, sliced sweet potato, and sliced red, green and yellow bell peppers. There was an extensive selection of common and uncommon fruits and vegetables. The works mimicked mandala art, an abstract design usually in the form of a circle.

Among the participants was Sherell Farmer, a rising sophomore majoring in Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University. She arrived at the event with a cohort of fellow undergraduates students, all inquiring about what the Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology had to share. 

Farmer, who describes herself as a vegetarian, says that while the event did not sway her into certain eating habits it did “expose me to some vegetables that I had never heard of.”

Connie Ervin said this was one of her intentions for the event. 

“Events like this expose participants to an array of fruits and vegetables that they may not have been familiar with and provide a safe, fun environment to try and/or discuss them,” Ervin explained. 

Her organization provided the smoothie bike, which allows riders to blend smoothies with the power of their peddling. Visitors chose from bright red strawberries and deep, plump blueberries among other fruits to mix into their smoothies.

The event gave parents a peek into options of different fruits and vegetables to make for their children as well as themselves. Of course, there is always the cloud of the “picky eater” looming over a parent’s head. In 2017, the Mayo Clinic provided “10 Tips for Picky Eaters”, a list to help parents “avoid power struggles and help the picky eater in your family eat a balanced diet.”

A few of the tips included serving “a variety of brightly colored food,” “encourage your child by talking about a food’s color, shape, aroma, and texture — not whether it tastes good” and “being creative with setting up the meals.” These ideas aligned with the theme of Food is Art

Ervin agreed. “Eating properly improves energy levels, prevents long term health issues and helps our brains function so that we learn better.”

She hopes that participants of the Food is Art event absorbed facts such as just how much sugar is in the store bought drinks we consume and grasped the important role exercise plays in living a healthy lifestyle. 

With the success of this year’s inaugural event, BCAT is already making plans to host another edition of Food is Art. 

“Aunt Connie’s and BCAT are a strong, activity-based collaborative which brings health and the arts together as another approach to address the wellness of the total person,” said Ervin. 

For more information about upcoming events at the Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology, you may contact us at (716)-259-1680. You may also visit our website,  https://buffaloartstechcenter.org/ to learn more about the organization. Food is Art is funded by BNMC Spark, a micro-grant program of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc (BNMC), designed to showcase creative ideas and strategies to support stakeholders within the neighborhoods surrounding Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.