Food for Thought
On Wednesday, February 13, 10 students – and their rides – decided to brave the afternoon snow in order to participate in the slightly ambiguous Farm2(After)School program and maybe learn a little bit about food.
By 3:45 p.m., the Marlinton Middle School home economics room was bustling with kids washing, cutting and decorating celery. Fifteen minutes later, all 10 were munching on the fibrous vegetable and most seemed to actually enjoy it!
We’ve long heard of parents trying to trick their kiddos into eating healthier snacks and “Ants on a Log” seems to never fail – three inches of celery, half a tablespoon of peanut butter, and as many raisin “ants” as you can stick on the “log.”
The group even experimented with using banana halves instead of celery and sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter. This led to statements such as: “I’ve had celery before, and I didn’t like it. But this is pretty good.” And “I think I’ll eat more bananas and peanut butter at home.”
It is widely recognized that children in the United States don’t seem to eat as many fruits and vegetables as children once did. This phenomenon does not always correlate with their access to these foods. For example, a few months ago, the schools put an apple on every lunch tray. However, just about every apple that was being handed out was also being thrown away. They found that children would be more likely to eat their apples when cut into smaller pieces. Simple, yet profound!
As fifth grader Sarah commented, “fresh foods aren’t always super exciting and little tricks like a few chops around an apple core or a dab of peanut butter on our celery (with some imagination) can turn a boring vegetable into a palatable treat!”
Food for Thought
I rise in the morning to peer through my cold glass window; observing the monotonous meander of the Greenbrier River as it carries broken bits of ice and snow. I smile at the ashen mountainsides scattered with twisting and sleeping trees; the untamed whiskers of Old Man Winter. Simultaneously, a rumble begins deep in my gut; a most basic instinct begins to tear my attention from West Virginia’s Appalachian wonders toward the homey kitchen stove.
I have often been asked “Why food?”
When I contemplate the various elements that have built my life these 23 years - my rural Kentucky childhood, my college education in mathematics, my travels, my hobbies, my prized possessions - nothing comes close to my passion for good food. Not everyone is good at math, not everyone can have the opportunity to travel to another country, not everyone wants to hike or snowboard or grow a garden, but everyone has to eat.
Food is a fundamental human need and right, such as access to water, shelter, and, some would argue, even love.
Every time I experience this morning growl, I know that every belly across the globe is waking up with the same grumble. It’s really quite beautiful to know that no matter your location, passions, religious affiliations, financial status or lifestyle, we are all human and we all have to eat. While this basic human desire seems to connect us, there are also so many of us who are unable to guide their empty stomachs from a serene window to a refrigerator stocked with eggs, milk, fruits and vegetables.
So this is why I chose food: everyone has the right to access food, but not everyone has access to the right food and I would like to help change that.