For a winning salad, serious cash
Go Green Challenge focuses on healthier eating alternatives
By Brian Shane • Staff Writer • August 31, 2010
OCEAN CITY — Janet Phillips feels so strongly that poor eating habits are sickening Americans that she offered $1,000 to the person who could bring her the best salad recipe made from greens and uncooked foods.
In the process, Phillips wants to bring attention to organic foods, raw food vegetarianism, and wild edible plants to restaurants across Ocean City.
She hosted a “Go Green Challenge” midday Wednesday on the verandah of the resort’s Phillips Beach Plaza Hotel. Janet is married to Jeff Phillips, whose family founded the resort’s Phillips seafood restaurants. But pairing a salad with crab, tuna or flounder at this competition was a no-no.
“I decided to do this competition to make people aware of how far we’ve strayed from really good food,” she said. “When I do my wild edible plant walks, I get college students, and I ask them: what do you know? They don’t know a single plant. The best I can get is, ‘well, that’s a tree.’ I just feel like, we live on this planet and we don’t know anything about it anymore. We have no appreciation for what’s around us.”
Phillips judged each entry by its nutritional value and by taste. She was the only judge, though she opened up the entries to contestants as a buffet.
The winning entries were a raw mock tuna salad, created by Debbi Colley of Berlin, and an organic mixed greens salad created by Jennifer Whitehead and Christi Crow of the food store Ocean City Organics.
“It’s awesome,” Whitehead said of the contest. “More people need to be educated about the importance of eating raw and eating local. There’s so much disease in the world, and there’s so much we can be doing just by eating. It’s what you put in your body. Everything we put in our salad is healing, and it tastes good.”
Whitehead also said organic foods are much more readily available than even five years ago, with some local restaurants serving more all-natural meats and locally grown organic produce.
Other mouth-watering entries included orache with peach vinaigrette, a pear and arugula salad topped with raspberry dressing and pumpkin seeds, and a mango and blueberry salad with violet leaves and organic lettuce.
The mango salad was the creation of Melody Griner, of Ocean Pines. The raw food lifestyle is still pretty new for her and her husband, she said, but she’s energized by swapping starchy and sugary items for greens. She used ingredients from her own backyard in her salad.
“You have your vitamins, you have your proteins,” she said of her entry. “This will be a complete meal for someone. They are eating wild edibles and they don’t even know it.”
Contestant Jennifer Huey is a personal chef who lives in Baltimore and made the trip to Ocean City just for this contest. She made a citrus cashew crunch salad, using marigold, rose, jalapeño and hibiscus picked from her own backyard garden.
“It’s very important, eating local, fresh vegetables with no pesticides,” she said. “I grow all of my own now. You get a different appreciation for it, and a different taste when you’re getting it back fresh.”
The winners split the prize, taking home $500 each. Phillips also gave the 10 other contestants $50 each for participating.
Phillips said the Beach Plaza hotel will start serving raw food options for lunch into the early fall. She also said she wants to have another organic salad contest in the springtime, when more wild edibles are sprouting.
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