ARLINGTON, Va., June 30, 2011 — When one Farm-to-Table event just isn’t enough, throw a second one! The PTA at Barcroft Elementary School in Arlington was so thrilled with its November week of chef visits and tastings that it held a second round earlier this month.
The spring edition of Farm-to-Table week kicked off on Sunday, June 5 at the Columbia Pike Farmers Market, where curious children could fill their scavenger hunt sheets by finding foods that were yellow, orange, purple, and green and get answers from vendors to questions about how and where food is produced. Over 50 children participated.
In the week that followed, each day at lunchtime, the PTA welcomed local chefs who showcased farm-fresh items for the tasting and the making. PTA members hoped to expand children’s palates, get them thinking about healthy eating, and help them understand where their food comes from.
The week of presenters and chefs included Cindy Olson of Freshfarm Markets, Top Chef finalist Carla Hall, Monica Corrado of Simply Being Well, Ruth Gresser of Pizzera Paradiso, CakeLove founder Warren Brown, and Washington Post food writer David Hagedorn. Children got to make their own pizzas with whole wheat dough and freshly made sauce, sample homemade granola and cereal bars, and munch on vegetables straight out of the garden. Several children reported never having tried fresh peas or green beans before, but they loved eating the veggies almost as much as they loved opening them up!
One day featured cucumber, radish and carrot slices served with a “healthy yogurt dip” made by “Ms. Zeese,” a teacher at the school. The dip recipe appears in a school cookbook that was on display at the special Farm-to-Table corner in the cafeteria all week. After the November 2010 Farm-to-Table week was such a hit, the school put together a cookbook of healthy recipes accompanied by student illustrations.
The week’s festivities concluded on the evening of Friday, June 10 with a sold-out film screening of the documentary, What’s On Your Plate? and a dinner donated by Chipotle Mexican Grill. Proceeds were donated to Arlington Food Assistance Center, which was on hand to share information about the group’s projects and to give out seeds so that little gardeners could grow their own beans.
After White House Pastry Chef Bill Yosses engaged the children in a discussion of what is important in terms of nutrition, Chipotle representative Barry Gahagan talked about his company’s policies, which, he explained, are to support practices that are “good for the environment and for animals.”
These practices include the purchase and use of local meat, RBGH-free cheese, and, when possible, organic beans. Gahagan said that Chipotle restaurants always use fresh food and have “no can openers, microwaves, or freezers.”
After the speakers concluded, a film created largely by two middle school students showed the audience where much of our food comes from and explained the challenges and successes in providing healthy, local and organic food to schools.
Outgoing Barcroft PTA president Susan Dubois was excited that the school now has its own oven to allow teachers to cook with their classes, and plans are afoot for the expansion of the school’s vegetable garden.
Jessica Claire Haney is a freelance writer, editor and tutor. Her writing has appeared in parenting publications and poetry journals. A former high school English teacher, Jessica is mother to a five-year-old son and a baby girl. She is passionate about holistic health and well-being and is a leader of a chapter of Holistic Moms Network.
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