Food + Dining Main

Hot Dish: Food for Thought

BY February 13, 2015


Any foodie worth her (or his) salt knows that good food comes in all forms, from a Grouper & Chips sandwich to spherical liquid tomato coulis at Sea Salt. But no one would argue that ripe, just-picked and cooked-up-for-you fare beats packaged junk any day. Sure, at times we all succumb to cravings for things we know are oh-so-bad but oh-so-good (hello, O-r-e-o), but real food trumps icky processed stuff—especially because we know how bad it is. 

In Naples, a loud voice reminding us why we should care where our food is coming from had been the late Frank Oakes. His dedicated staff at Food & Thought, a general store and café (more like Mecca for anything organic), has carried the torch since his passing two years ago. To celebrate the market’s 10th anniversary coming up this April, employees have organized what they hope will be the first of an annual Health Freedom Summit on Feb. 21 and 22, with an opening night reception on Friday, Feb. 20. 

What started as a couple of talks snowballed into a packed weekend schedule of free events and seminars by a who’s who of GMO, farm safety and food-based healing experts to be held in both the Food & Thought plaza and the Naples High School Auditorium. For a full schedule, click here

The idea for the summit sprouted with Michael Monteleone, head supplement buyer, “activist” (his words) and steady presence at Food & Thought since the beginning (“My first day was right after Hurricane Wilma, and I remember coming in and Frank offered me eggs. There was no electricity, no power, but he was there in the store.”). Jameson Johnson, Food & Thought’s manager, says that as much as Monteleone would like to give credit to others, his efforts are what have made this event possible. 

Nothing seems to galvanize Monteleone more than GMOs and the country’s lack of regulatory action against them. His pick for the weekend—if you can see only one presentation—is Jeffrey Smith’s “Genetic Roulette: GMOs—The Gamble of Our Lives” at 5:45 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 21, at Naples High (“He’s talked to genetic scientists and is not afraid to say the truth about how deeply our government has been infiltrated by the bio tech industry,” Monteleone says). Smith is also speaking Feb. 19 at the Arsenault Gallery about the same safe-eating platform. (It’s a fundraiser for his Institute for Responsible Technology, a watchdog for GMO-related health risks.) 

“I kept thinking, if we have this person speaking, why not ask that person. I cannot believe the lineup of people who are coming to this—they’re magnificent—that’s not hyperbole in the least bit,” Monteleone says. “We called it the Health Freedom Summit because it’s really tough right now. There are a lot of challenges that we’re facing. While we still have freedom in this country; we should be using it.”



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