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First Fresh Fest

One woman, as her eyes hungrily wandered over the fresh fruit and veggies displays, exhaled, “This is paradise.”

The smell of chestnut smoke waffled and teased.

Large stainless steel bowls of rich-red strawberries were offered out.

JE Russell sampled stainless steel bowls of strawberries.

These were all scenes from the Fresh Fest on Sept. 22, the inaugural public event held at the Ontario Food Terminal that aimed to raise awareness of the importance of the Ontario Food Terminal in fresh fruit and vegetable distribution and promote the health benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables.

It was the first time doors of the terminal opened to the public in its 58-year history with some 3,000 people taking part in the event.

Several buyers, including those from Cheese Boutique and Rabba, were seen exploring the units and seeing their world through the eyes of the public.

What impressed me most was the warmth and generosity of the trade.

Not only did they embrace the crowds, but they showed us how to sell produce, engaging all the senses from sampling to displays.

There were tons of sampling and displays at Fresh Fest.

For example, Kerry, one of the culinary students from Liaison College Toronto West, demonstrated how easy it was to make cranberry sauce from Ocean Spray cranberries that had just been harvested that week.

Culinary students demonstrate how to make cranberry sauce from Ocean Spray cranberries.

Fresh, roasted chestnuts, just one of the many smells and tastes at Fresh Fest.

Streef’s staff were busy dishing out samples of potatoes from Alberta's The Little Potato Company.

And he took time advising people to taste a raw cranberry first to explore the flavour components.

Meanwhile, in the parking lot local growers showcased their freshly harvested field offerings – the displays were art gallery quality.

Seeing the bountiful displays just made me want to go home, invite friends over and cook.

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