Downtown Phoenix Farmers Market, Phoenix Bioscience Core promote health education

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Kayla Balay, Blue Sky Organic Farms market assistant, helps a customer bag produce at the Downtown Phoenix Farmers Market on April 13, 2024. “I’ve eaten a lot healthier since working here and have been introduced to a lot of new produce, as well,” Balay said. “I usually go by what’s called eating soulfully, so I eat what’s in season, organic, unprocessed and local.” (Photo by Sam Ballesteros/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – The Downtown Phoenix Farmers Market and the Phoenix Bioscience Core hosted the first Health & Wellness “Phoestival” with multiple guest speakers, a blood drive, cooking demonstrations and booths.

The Phoenix Bioscience Core is a 30-acre life science innovation district in downtown Phoenix that serves as a center for bio research and education. It boasts the highest concentration of research scientists in the state, from TGen, Exact Sciences and Phoenix’s major health care systems – Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Banner Health, Dignity Health and Valleywise Health – and more. It is the only area where all three of Arizona’s public universities – University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University – have medical campuses.

Chef Matthew Padilla, True Food Kitchen’s senior vice president of culinary, cooks stir fry at the Health & Wellness Phoestival in downtown Phoenix on April 13, 2024. (Photo by Sam Ballesteros/Cronkite News)

Chef Matthew Padilla, True Food Kitchen’s senior vice president of culinary, cooks stir fry at the Health & Wellness Phoestival in downtown Phoenix on April 13, 2024. (Photo by Sam Ballesteros/Cronkite News)

Collin Thomas, a festival attendee, watches Dr. Shad Marvasti and chef Matthew Padilla’s cooking demonstration at the Health & Wellness Phoestival on April 13, 2024. (Photo by Sam Ballesteros/Cronkite News)

Collin Thomas, a festival attendee, watches Dr. Shad Marvasti and chef Matthew Padilla’s cooking demonstration at the Health & Wellness Phoestival on April 13, 2024. (Photo by Sam Ballesteros/Cronkite News)

The Phoenix Bioscience Core partnered with the farmers market to bridge a connection between research institutions and community members.

“There’s research and then there’s what’s happening at ground level, and trying to get the interaction between researchers and the people who live here is what the Phoestival of Health is about,” said Sara Anderson, who coordinated the event for Phoenix Bioscience Core.

Attendees purchase produce from Blue Sky Organic Farms at the Health & Wellness Phoestival in Phoenix on April 13, 2024. (Photo by Sam Ballesteros/Cronkite News)

Attendees purchase produce from Blue Sky Organic Farms at the Health & Wellness Phoestival in Phoenix on April 13, 2024. (Photo by Sam Ballesteros/Cronkite News)

University of Arizona Culinary Medicine students chop candied pecans for chef Matthew Padilla’s cooking demonstration at the Health & Wellness Phoestival in Phoenix on April 13, 2024. (Photo by Sam Ballesteros/Cronkite News)

University of Arizona Culinary Medicine students chop candied pecans for chef Matthew Padilla’s cooking demonstration at the Health & Wellness Phoestival in Phoenix on April 13, 2024. (Photo by Sam Ballesteros/Cronkite News)

Anderson said the goals for the festival were to be a resource for the community to live a healthier and more sustainable life and to provide a place where people could have conversations surrounding health, food and gardening.

“Health is not convenient, it’s not an easy process to stay healthy, but if you centralize it as a community focus, it gets a little easier,” Anderson said.

Chef Matthew Padilla, True Food Kitchen’s senior vice president of culinary, hosted a cooking demonstration with the UArizona Culinary Medicine Program using ingredients students chose from the farmers market.

Chef Matthew Padilla, True Food Kitchen’s senior vice president of culinary, mixes a salad with ingredients from the Downtown Phoenix Farmers Market as Dr. Shad Marvasti explains the health benefits of different ingredients at the Health & Wellness Phoestival on April 13, 2024. (Photo by Sam Ballesteros/Cronkite News)

Chef Matthew Padilla, True Food Kitchen’s senior vice president of culinary, mixes a salad with ingredients from the Downtown Phoenix Farmers Market as Dr. Shad Marvasti explains the health benefits of different ingredients at the Health & Wellness Phoestival on April 13, 2024. (Photo by Sam Ballesteros/Cronkite News)

University of Arizona Culinary Medicine students chop up tomatoes for chef Matthew Padilla’s cooking demonstration at the Health & Wellness Phoestival in Phoenix on April 13, 2024. (Photo by Sam Ballesteros/Cronkite News)

University of Arizona Culinary Medicine students chop up tomatoes for chef Matthew Padilla’s cooking demonstration at the Health & Wellness Phoestival in Phoenix on April 13, 2024. (Photo by Sam Ballesteros/Cronkite News)

“We are surrounded by so much unhealthy food that is easily accessible. The American diet has evolved into one that is based on convenience, but part of the demonstration was to show you can make healthy foods out of convenience as well,” Padilla said.

Carrots from Blue Sky Organic Farms for sale at the Health & Wellness Phoestival on April 13, 2024. (Photo by Sam Ballesteros/Cronkite News)

Carrots from Blue Sky Organic Farms for sale at the Health & Wellness Phoestival on April 13, 2024. (Photo by Sam Ballesteros/Cronkite News)

Beets from Blue Sky Organic Farms for sale at the Health & Wellness Phoestival on April 13, 2024. (Photo by Sam Ballesteros/Cronkite News)

Beets from Blue Sky Organic Farms for sale at the Health & Wellness Phoestival on April 13, 2024. (Photo by Sam Ballesteros/Cronkite News)

Dr. Shad Marvasti, founder of the UArizona Culinary Medicine Program, spoke alongside Padilla’s presentation to provide a medical perspective on healthy eating and to educate attendees on the health benefits of each ingredient.

“It’s a place where the community comes together, and for me, it makes sense to have all that, including demonstrations and Q&A sessions, so you can empower the public with all the tools they need to live a healthier and better life,” Marvasti said.

Attendees watch Dr. Shad Marvasti and chef Matthew Padilla’s cooking demonstration at the Health & Wellness Phoestival on April 13, 2024. (Photo by Sam Ballesteros/Cronkite News)

Attendees watch Dr. Shad Marvasti and chef Matthew Padilla’s cooking demonstration at the Health & Wellness Phoestival on April 13, 2024. (Photo by Sam Ballesteros/Cronkite News)

Chef Matthew Padilla, True Food Kitchen’s senior vice president of culinary, prepares fruits and vegetables for his cooking demonstration at the Health & Wellness Phoestival on April 13, 2024. (Photo by Sam Ballesteros/Cronkite News)

Chef Matthew Padilla, True Food Kitchen’s senior vice president of culinary, prepares fruits and vegetables for his cooking demonstration at the Health & Wellness Phoestival on April 13, 2024. (Photo by Sam Ballesteros/Cronkite News)

“It really democratizes the required information to view food not just as something to satiate you when you’re hungry but as something that could be looked at as medicine,” said Collin Thomas, a festival attendee.

The festival also hosted a blood drive.

“We have a lot of people who are health conscious and they are also altruistic, and this is like the ultimate mix, donating without knowing who it’s going to help,” said Mike Hashimoto, a volunteer with Vitalant, which ran the blood drive.

Scarlett Spring, Phoenix Bioscience Core assistant executive director, donates blood at the Health & Wellness Phoestival on April 13, 2024. (Photo by Sam Ballesteros/Cronkite News)

Scarlett Spring, Phoenix Bioscience Core assistant executive director, donates blood at the Health & Wellness Phoestival on April 13, 2024. (Photo by Sam Ballesteros/Cronkite News)

The farmers market and bioscience core plan to make the health festival an annual event.

For now, Saturday’s weekly farmers market at Fifth and McKinley streets is hosting monthly cooking demonstrations from the UArizona Culinary Medicine Program, blood drives every quarter and providing the opportunity to connect with local farmers.

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