It is no secret that Asheville and Western North Carolina are one of the top food and beverage destinations in the country. (In fact, the region has been dubbed with the nickname, Foodtopia.) With a strong focus on quality and sustainability, area restaurants and chefs often work with local farmers to source fresh, natural ingredients. The region’s clean waterways also make WNC a perfect destination for brewmasters. Asheville – also known as “Beer City USA” – houses nearly 40 craft breweries ranging from small nano breweries to national craft breweries like New Belgium and Sierra Nevada. While Asheville’s culinary community might be the talk of the town, the actual science behind what’s on your plate or in your glass may not be as well known.

Families can “take a bite” out of science and learn how the natural world affects how we eat, drink and survive at The North Carolina Arboretum’s seventh annual Mountain Science Expo, this Saturday, April 14, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. As an official Expo of the statewide North Carolina Science Festival, this year’s theme for the event is “The Secret’s in the Science.” More than 20 area organizations will offer hands-on activities and demonstrations that connect the science of what food and drink do for humans, animals and invertebrates. From animal teeth activities, to understanding the cues of aquatic insects, to climate’s impact on coffee and chocolate production, visitors will learn about the scientific secrets of the area’s growing food and beverage industry. Come see what the “buzz” is about with Bee City USA and explore the influence of pollinators on food production. New Expo participant, Waynesville Soda Jerks, will also be on site for some soda science and teaching visitors why “pop” pops!

Don’t let your minds – or stomachs – go hungry. Go local with the Arboretum’s new Bent Creek Bistro. As part of the Expo celebration, the Bistro will be offering a $10 meal deal, which will include a pulled pork sandwich or a hot dog from Fairview’s Hickory Nut Gap Farm.

In addition, students from local schools in the Arboretum’s Project EXPLORE program and participants in its ecoEXPLORE program will present data on animals and plants that they have observed throughout the year during the Expo’s Citizen Science Poster Contest. Three winners will be selected and awarded an iPod Touch unit, which will help them with future field observations. The North Carolina Division of Air Quality will also be hosting their AQ-IQ awards with area middle school students.

Join the Arboretum for a day full of science and fun. Who knows, you may see your plate through a whole new lens.

The Mountain Science Expo is Saturday, April 14, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. throughout the Arboretum’s campus. Admission to the event is free, however, standard Arboretum parking fees still apply. For more information, please click here.