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Macrobiotics and Local Farms at Valley Forward Lunch

Forty years ago, Leslie Curry changed her diet.

She stopped eating processed foods and started eating the kinds of foods Madonna would famously advocate 3 decades later. It was macrobiotic, and it was, to put it kindly, out of the ordinary.

Today, however, Curry feels vindicated.

The proof? Now, a metro educator at Whole Foods Markets, she stood before a ballroom-full of Valley movers and shakers on Wednesday at the Valley Forward Association's first-ever luncheon on sustainability and talked about food grown with chemicals (bad for your body) and locally grown produce (good for your body). And they listened.

"These things I used to be ridiculed for," Curry says. "Now everybody knows that's the way to eat."

The same year, 1969, Curry swore off hamburgers for life, Bill Meek covered the founding of Valley Forward for the Arizona Republic. A few years later, when he was an administrative assistant for Arizona Public Service, he joined Valley Forward - an organization that was made up of the "CEO's of 15 or 20 of the biggest firms in the Valley."

"No one was thinking about sustainability," he says.

How things have changed.

At the rather swanky luncheon at the Firesky Resort in Scottsdale, folks from companies with names like Resolution Copper Company and Professional Underwriters of Arizona, Inc., who are members of the association, gathered to eat organic romaine salad and free-range chicken. (You know the green movement has gone corporate when "sustainability luncheons" are being held at Scottsdale resorts.)

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They listened to Robert McClendon, owner of McClendon Farms, Chef Michael Stebner, of True Food Kitchen and Curry, of course, talk about the growing importance - and apparent profitability - of the local/organic/sustainable foods movement. (Sorry, what's the difference, again?)

Here's the fast food version: The demand for local produce is great, and there aren't enough farmers around to grow it. There's even a waiting list for restaurants that want to cook local, McClendon says. People who eat these foods feel better.

They may even look better.

"Damn," one woman whispered across the table as Curry touted her 40 years of a macrobiotic diet. "She looks good."

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