Cooking with kids
Oh goodness. Life is carrying me on a fast and furious wave!
I literally have 15 minutes to write today but what to say?
Maybe I'll share with you a little bit more about my work to help bring healthy and natural foods in to our local public schools. My husband, who is a great chef, had the opportunity to visit the processing center for our city's school lunch program. You see, they've taken kitchens out of the schools and make everything at one huge central kitchen. They do this for efficiency and to cut down on costs. But, we argue that it is at the detriment of the students' health. For example, are serving kids canned peaches drenched in high fructose corn syrup when we have the most delicious variety of apples at our doorsteps in WI. They are packaging iceberg lettuce salads in plastic bags when we have a ton of super nutritious varieties of greens growing at surrounding farms. All hot foods are prepackaged in plastic wrap and warmed up in microwaves at the school, creating a gummy texture to not-so-healthy entrees like pizza and chicken nuggets. The director of the facility was quoted as saying "We have to serve them what they'll eat". We do not at all agree with this mindset. My husband and I have been working in a middle school for three years. We bring in fresh market ingredients and cook with the kids. They have so much fun that they don't even realize we're educating them on the values of healthy food! They really love being introduced to new ingredients like kohlrabi, romanesco, bok choy, etc. The best part is, many bring their recipes home and cook the dishes with their families!
For the first time, the school district has opened up the discussion on modifying the food program. They are probably very sick of being under attack by concerned community members. I'm excited that this is happening because there is so much potential for food education. For example, at the middle school where we teach, we helped put in a beautiful and thriving garden at relatively low cost. It is producing a ton of food! Not only is there enough food for making really delicious vegetable-centered dishes, but it also produces over 500 pounds of heirloom tomatoes for their salsa-making fundraiser! Having the garden on-site gets kids excited about eating raw, healthy foods. Let's face it, here in the US, we live in a country where media and our fast paced life-styles condition kids to eating easy meals like mac&cheese, chicken nuggets, or McDonalds. These eating habits are partly behind the drastic rise of serious diseases like child obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Also, the cases of autism have sky rocketed. We must, as individuals and as communities, think about how we are feeding our children and help educate them on good eating habits!
Ok - I'll step away from the preaching podium now :-) But if anyone is interested in some fun recipes to make with kids at their school or at home, let me know!
I've also attached some info on our program where we cook with the kids!
Thanks for reading!