How to Balance Indulging and Health at a Food Festival


A raw vegetable wrap, served at the raw-food seminar part of the Cornucopia food festival's new "Nourish" series.

As a popular ski village, Whistler, British Colombia, has a naturally healthy aspect to it. Visitors and residents of the area are often into skiing, hiking, and enjoying the other outdoor activities that the mountainside location offers. That Cornucopia, Whistler’s food and wine festival, decided to incorporate a new "Nourish" series might therefore not come as a big surprise. The new wellness- and health-focused series highlights the important balance that should be found between enjoying food and taking care of our health. And during a 10-day celebration of food and wine, this is absolutely needed.

With so many food and wine festivals where one can spend days just indulging in different foods and drinks, it was refreshing to see a festival with an additional focus on health and wellness. In a culture where fine food has become more and more pervasive, where food tourism and self-proclaimed "foodies" are nothing out of the ordinary, food obsessions can sometimes be overwhelming. Though it is great that the culinary world has become so popular, and that new young chefs and bakers have a better opportunity to succeed and be recognized for their hard work, it is also sometimes hard to balance the indulgent side of food culture with health. It's not only fast food that makes us fat — so can eat out in fine dining restaurants every night. The "Nourish" aspect of Cornucopia highlighted this fact, and gave festival attendees the opportunity to — yes, indulge — but then to counter-balance the constant eating with activities and seminars focusing on the health of our body, both physical and mental.

While attending Cornucopia in Whistler, I took advantage of this opportunity to balance the constant indulging in rich foods and drinking. Though getting up at 7 a.m. after a late-night dinner party didn’t feel particularly tempting at the moment, after one hour of stretching and bending at a yoga session I was happy that I made the decision to get out of bed. After the relaxing and rejuvenating start of the day, I attended a raw food cooking demo luncheon, which was both very insightful and delicious.

While I admit that most of us watching the cooking demo and enjoying the lunch probably didn’t leave the seminar eager to buy a special sheet for dehydrating foods, and start preparing dehydrated wraps at home, the seminar was definitely well-received and inspiring. Though I personally am quite familiar with raw food, the seminar gave me some new inspiration and tips on how to incorporate a healthier balance in my eating. The dishes prepared were a coconut water and spirulina drink, a raw butternut squash soup, and a raw wrap filled with ginger almond paste and fresh vegetables. If there was a raw food skeptic in the crowd, I have a feeling that she or he was surprised (and secretly impressed) by how tasty the dishes were (looking around the room, there were barely any leftovers on any of the plates).

Like the raw food luncheon, the other seminars of "Nourish," including a talk on what foods are healthy for your skin, Paleo food demonstrations, and more, demonstrated that even if you are a "serious food person," it is OK to sometimes ditch the fancy dishes for a simple plate of salad or to explore different ways of eating, such as the raw-food or Paleo diet. Of course, one does not have to go a whole week just chewing on raw vegetables, but to incorporate a plant-based or raw dish into your diet weekly (or even just monthly) is both simple and good for you. Because, especially for us working in the food industry, with its frequent visits to food events, dinners, and samplings, there can definitely be "too much of the good stuff."


I really hope the "Nourish" aspect will become a new tradition of the Cornucopia festival, and even better, be something that other food and wine festivals would catch on to. There is nothing wrong with indulging in decadent dinners — that’s what a food festival is all about — but to have something to balance it out, to give our bodies a little break, is certainly something I would be happy to see becoming a new norm at culinary events.