By Toni Pennello, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE — The 44th annual Farmers Market on Public Square made its Monday debut yesterday, with a theme: health and wellness.
The addition, which the city calls “Mondays at the Market,” came with a movement in the city health department to increase access to healthy foods, said Henry Radulski, health director. The Thursday farmers market will be unchanged.
“What we did was take the basic concept of the farmers market on the square — it’s a very successful event — and add a health and wellness component,” Radulski explained.
“We are increasing the access to healthy foods — the healthy foods are fruits and vegetables — then we add the health and wellness,” he added. “There’s physical fitness, there’s preventative medicine, wellness … it’s an educational, preventative-type program that goes along with the healthy foods that are there provided by the farmers.”
The end goal of the Monday market is to prevent illness, disease, injuries and premature death among Wilkes-Barre residents, Radulski said.
“It’s slower than a Thursday. I think it will get better as people realize we’re here,” said Ray Zimmerman, of Zimmerman Farms in Pitman. The farm has been bringing produce to the Thursday market for 35 years, and they fit right in with the healthy theme.
The Monday market featured healthy cooking demonstrations at 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. by the CEO Weinberg Regional Foodbank. The demonstrations were accompanied by nutritional education from instructors at the bank.
Visitors craving comfort food could turn to Mother Nature, a vegan food truck serving up burgers, barbecue and more, all with no animal products. They will be giving out free samples and selling their food every Monday.
The truck is owned by Delinda and Kyle Jensen, a mother and son from the Parsons section of Wilkes-Barre.
“If you’re gonna do vegan, it has to be a thousand times better than the original,” Kyle said, saying that is what he and his mom strive for.
Kyle said the goal is not only to serve delicious vegan food, but to raise awareness for compassion toward animals and health benefits of veganism.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded in 2015 that red and processed meats have carcinogenic effects, and recommends limiting its intake. Mother Nature will offer a new venue for “meatless Monday” in the area for people looking to cut down.
There to raise awareness of colon cancer were representatives from Geisinger, accompanied by a giant inflatable colon, which they said works well as a conversation piece.
“We brought it down to raise awareness to colorectal cancer. People don’t like to talk about it, but just to bring up the subject,” said JoAnn Blackwell, supervisor of Geisinger’s endoscopy department.
“As the second-leading cause of cancer death, behind lung (cancer), this is a highly preventable cancer with a simple screening test,” Lisa Zimmerman, a Geisinger physician assistant, said.
Visitors who walk through the giant organ replica could get a glimpse of what a colon looks like and learn about the different stages of colon cancer.
Mondays at the Market will run 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Oct. 2. The traditional Thursday market will still run 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Nov. 16.