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Edible Education

If students travel to the places where food is grown, form relationships with these farmers, and see firsthand how demanding it is to produce socially and ethically responsible food, they'll have a much different relationship with the food they eat. -- Douglas Gayeton

Famed French politician-turned-gastronome Jean Brillat-Savarin once said, “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” Sadly, for many living in the United States and other western countries, fatty diets based on heavily-processed ingredients mean only one thing: we’re unhealthy, and we’re passing it on to our children. If we keep to our present course, increased rates of disease coupled with shorter life expectancies will be our legacy.

Thankfully, some chefs and educators are taking the challenge head on. Credited with bringing the slow food movement to the United States, Alice Waters turned from chef to sage in 1996 when she began the Edible Schoolyard Project, a Berkeley, California organization designed to teach children to plant, prepare, and partake of healthy food. Now, Edible Schoolyards can be found around the world. There are, in fact, almost 4,000 locations teaching some part of the Edible Schoolyard curriculum. We’ll explore the Schoolyard in “The Big Picture”.

The problem of childhood obesity is an unfortunate export we’ve packaged and shipped overseas. Chef and activist Jamie Oliver offers education as a solution. He was awarded the 2010 TED Prize for his work, which he highlights in his acceptance speech. The final infographic, presented by his organization’s endeavor Food Revolution Day really drives the point home.

Chef Ann Cooper, know to many as the Renegade Lunch Lady, dreams of a day when providing healthy lunches no longer goes against the grain. While her TEDxManhattan speech calls everyone to line up at the salad bar, her nutritious apple griddle cakes are a healthy treat for your little one’s lunch.

The Nourish Initiative introduces us to Bryant Terry, a vegan chef who sees the vital role young people play in creating a sustainable food future.

The Center for Food Ecoliteracy introduces us to Making the Case, a robust initiative that propels the idea that fresh, healthy meals are good for students, good for learning, and often good for school finances.

Sara Fulton-Koerbling tells first hand about her experience with FoodCorps where she realized that the kids themselves are the best teachers.

Culinary gardener Tucker Taylor encourages you to grow a gardener through starting an edible education initiative in your local school.

Not sure if there are already programs in your area? Food Tank’s Danielle Nirenberg and Katie Work highlight 14 initiatives worth checking out.

And finally, Perennial Plate grows goodness in “Youth Farm”, a film highlighting experiential learning and leadership at the Minnesota-based community farm.

This week's terms

Slow Food

Begun by Carlo Petrini as an Italian initiative that combats the spread of fast-food culture by defending the security of indigenous food producers across the globe, Slow Food was introduced to the United States by Alice Waters where it now includes two hundred chapters that organize culinary events with local farmers and guide communities in the creation of school gardens.

Horticultural Literacy

Understanding who grows your food, the quality of that food, and how it gets to you is a transformative pedagogy that leads to economic development and the creation of community.

Experiential Learning

Education through direct involvement—offering staff-led tours, workshops, internship programs, volunteer opportunities and dinners—helps communities engage with local food.

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