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Food, age and pregnancy

Food, age and pregnancy

By BESSIE KING

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It is known that with age pregnancy becomes more delicate. Traditionally women had children in their 20s, but more are waiting until their 30s and 40s to  become pregnant. Because of this, medical care has improved and pregnancies for older women are less risky.

However, after giving birth, a woman still needs to be healthy. Losing the baby weight is one of the first steps to getting back into a healthier lifestyle and older moms may find it harder to shed pounds. Research has been done in the U.S. about the relation between pregnancy weight gain and birth weight, as well as the median age where weight gain is most common.

A 2008 study by doctors Alison M. Stuebe, Emily Oken, and Matthew W. Gillman, from Boston, Mass., showed that women between 25-30 years of age had the highest risk or retaining weight and becoming overweight after their first pregnancy. A newer study supported by the National Science Council in Taiwan and published in the British Journal of Nutrition this August, also found that women aged  21-39 had higher body weight one year after birth.

But there are different factors that may affect weight gain and weight retention. Doctor Sally Ann Lederman, whose research focuses on pregnancy and lactation, said that although age and metabolism play a role in pregnancies a woman’s lifestyle is equally important.

“You have to consider previous weight management problems, health choices and whether it is a woman’s first pregnancy or not,” said Lederman. “Ultimately it isn’t dictated by your biology, it’s dictated by your lifestyle, the effects postpartum and the choices you’ve made through your life.”

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Freegan foragers feast on city’s waste

Freegan foragers feast on city’s waste

By ELLEN LONDON

Veteran Freegans and first-timers dig through garbage bags for produce, dairy and bread during a recent "trash tour."

Veteran Freegans and first-timers dig through garbage bags for produce, dairy and bread during a recent "trash tour."

Every night, a community of eco-enthusiasts committed to living off the consumer grid spreads out across New York City in search of food, clothing and furniture — in the trash.

Known as “freegans” for their non-consumer philosophy — they want things for free —  the group is made up of social activists from all walks of life trying to cut down on corporate waste.

Rebecca Lowery, a Texas native and a freshman at King’s College in downtown Manhattan, was an enthusiastic participant in the “trash tour” held last Thursday. It is a  a monthly event that brings freegans and interested members of the public together to go Dumpster diving. “Some people find it revolting,” Lowery admitted, “but I’m really excited to get tips about how to do it, and hopefully cut down on my grocery bill.”

While the term “Dumpster diving” recalls all of the gritty glamour of launching oneself into a garbage heap, the actual practice is methodical. Subsisting on found food requires vigilance and close observation of the wasted goods left out on the city’s curbs at the close of each business day. A dedicated freegan might make several trips every day, checking and rechecking garbage bins to find all of the staples for a healthy diet: bread, dairy, produce and meat.

Lowery was one of about 20 people who gathered at nightfall for last week’s trash tour in front of the Radio Shack on East 35th Street and 3rd Avenue on the Lower East Side. The tour was Lowery’s first experience with freeganism, although she had heard about the non-consumer lifestyle from her mother, an eco-enthusiast who dabbled in Dumpster diving in Texas.  One of the tour’s three leaders, Janet Kalish, invited everyone to “grab a bag, dig in, and see what you find!”

While some members of the group were initially hesitant, the more seasoned scavengers rushed forward to the pile of shiny black trash bags heaped on a nearby curb. They worked quickly, but carefully — it’s the freegan way to leave the site better than they found it. “And it really is better off,” Kalish pointed out, “because there’s less waste in the bags when we’re done with them.”

From one trash bag, Kalish and a fellow leader recovered blocks of mozzarella cheese, unopened challah bread and a package of hot dogs. “You’ll want to boil those, but they’re perfectly good,” offered a freegan nearby. Lowery was timid at first, but began to fill her bag excitedly after finding an eggplant with which to make her favorite dish: eggplant parmesan.

Food gathered during dumpster diving is often still technically good, but is thrown out on its expiration date.

Food gathered during dumpster diving is often still technically good, but is thrown out on its expiration date.

When the group finished collecting their bounty, Kalish showed them how to reknot the trash bags. The stores relinquish any property rights to expired goods once they discard them on the public sidewalk, meaning that this form of Dumpster diving is legal. Even so, Freegans make a point not to give local storeowners reason to stop them.

After a quick stop at a bagel store up the street, where they dove for plastic  sleeves full of uneaten goodies, the group moved on to Gristedes, a grocery chain known in freegan circles for its waste. Kalish instructed the group to stack all of their findings in front of the store before divvying them up.  “This goes to show how much waste is produced on a typical night in New York City,” she began, gesturing to the towers of packaged muffins, frozen vegetables and organic milk. Most of the items were marked with sell-by expiration dates of Sept. 3, the same day as the tour. “This stuff goes bad at exactly midnight tonight, so eat up!” Kalish joked, in reference to the common misconception that food goes bad precisely on the day of its expiration date.

By law, grocery stores are not supposed to keep goods on their shelves past their expiration labels, suggesting that Gristedes is practicing good business even while creating waste. It’s this corporate conundrum that Kalish and her fellow freegans are trying to correct.

Hungry for a snack after the foraging frenzy, Lowery opened a package of Weight Watchers blueberry muffins.  Her plastic shopping bag was full to the brim with “enough groceries for a month.”

Kalish had filled her two shopping bags and rolling weekender suitcase with enough food for herself and the upcoming “Freegan Feast,” a monthly gathering for freegans from all over the city to cook and eat their found food together.

While environmentalism may have become a national trend, she emphasized that the Freegans’ mission is lasting: “As long as they keep wasting it, we’ll keep on finding it and eating it.”

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No more bake sales for public schools in the city

No more bake sales for public schools in the city

By SONYA REHMAN

In a bid to get children in New York City to start eating right, the Department of Education, which has already moved to make only healthy beverages available from school vending machines, has prohibited bake sales from public schools.

“We understand the need for parent groups to raise funds at school gatherings. However, we are doing schoolchildren a disservice by using these events to distribute and promote foods that contribute to obesity,” said an Oct. 7 press release by the Health Department, responding to the Department of Education’s initiative to curb childhood obesity.

William Havemann, the media spokesperson from the Department of Education stated: “We don’t track how often schools have bake sales but schools are now permitted one bake sale per month during school hours, and after 6 p.m. on weekdays they can have as many as they want.”

The ban “makes me very angry,” says Liza Campbell, a teacher at the Bushwick School in Brooklyn. “It’s a traditional form of fundraising where kids can bake stuff with their families. It brings families together.”

Caitlin Duffy, who teaches at the MS 245 Computer School in Manhattan, says she is disheartened by the reasoning behind the ban. “The actual reasoning seems ineffective,” she said. “Minimizing their sugar intake is definitely not the effect. The amount of baked goodies students can buy with what money they have on hand is hardly enough to cause them a lot of harm unless these bake sales have a daily frequency.”

Photo illustration by Sonya Rehman

Photo illustration by Sonya Rehman

Cassandra Dillenberger, a concerned parent, doesn’t think the bake sales will curb childhood obesity. She says, “Better lunch meals provided at schools and better home nutrition are better places to develop good eating habits. Bake sales are fundraisers for class/school activities for which no alternative school funding is available. These are for enriching activities such as school trips, graduations and things like that.”

The Health Department release made no suggestions how to replace the bake sales. Duffy says that some of her teacher friends are unsure how to raise money for extracurricular activities without bake sales, “They can’t possibly get funding through Parents Associations or their budgets or fundraising programs purchased by the school,” she says, “So they are stuck without means for extracurricular activities where they might want to quickly raise a registration fee, the cost of T-shirts, or other simple club needs.”

Merril Zgar, a parent of four, thinks the ban is misguided. “Banning bake sales won’t teach children anything,” she says, “They can snack across the street on Twinkies at a bodega. As a parent, it’s important for me to limit my child’s sweet intake and that comes from parental discipline. It’s not about having no sugar. It’s about moderating your sugar intake and if you eliminate something entirely, it only causes the child to want it more.”

Lana Ajemian, vice president of the New York State Parent Teacher Association, says the group “strongly encourages innovative ideas and alternatives to providing high sugar, fat or salty foods for classroom celebrations.”

This sentiment is echoed by Mary Jane Detroyer, a nutrition and exercise consultant, “If they want to initiate change, why not have allow the bake sale and provide healthier recipes for options to sell, like muffins using less fat and some whole grains, zucchini bread or banana bread or carrot bread, or homemade granola bars, etc.”

“I think our government is truly hypocritical when it talks about the obesity epidemic,” Detroyer says, “They do not fund money for gym class and they provide high fat, processed food for lunch. The children need to learn how to eat at home, also. I think a better idea than getting rid of bake sales would be for each district to have a registered dietitian on staff that could visit the schools and teach the children how to eat properly and work on recipes for the cafeteria and offer education to the parents.” The cost, she said, “would be well worth it for what it is going to cost down the road to pay for the health care for these children.”

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Brooklyn teens learn about farming and eating right

Brooklyn teens learn about farming and eating right

East New York Farms teaches teens about the farming business while providing organic produce for the community. (Photo: Althea A. Fung

East New York Farms teaches teens about the farming business while providing organic produce for the community. (Photo: Althea A. Fung

East New York Farms grows produce like long beans, which are popular in the West Indian community. (Photo: Althea A. Fung)

East New York Farms grows produce like long beans, which are popular in the West Indian community. (Photo: Althea A. Fung)

By ALTHEA A. FUNG

The clamor of the number three train as it rolls into the New Lots Avenue station in Brooklyn can be heard blocks away. The final stop on the above ground train line is a busy hub for commuters catching the train and buses.

Three blocks from the station exit, beneath the trestle, is a farm, a tiny farm, where area teens learn about agriculture.

Part of a trend of urban farming, East New York Farms,  in what was an abandoned lot, has been growing fruits, vegetables and honey for the past nine years.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture 2007 census, the face of farming is changing. A farm is defined as “any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold,” and across the country there are more youth and minority farmers and more farms are utilizing less space – with 36 percent being classified as residential or lifestyle farms. Organic farming is also rising steadily.

East New York Farms is an example of the new American farm.

In a predominantly black and Latino neighborhood, local teens, ages 13 to 15, are paid to run the half-acre farm and sell the produce at the East New York Farmer’s Market. Money made at the market, along with some government funding and donations, pay for the teens’ salaries and farm maintenance.

Farm manager David Vigil shows a group of pre-schoolers how to wash fruits and vegetables after they are picked. (Photo: Althea A. Fung)

Farm manager David Vigil shows a group of pre-schoolers how to wash fruits and vegetables after they are picked. (Photo: Althea A. Fung)

East New York Farms is beneath is train trestle of the number three line. (Photo: Althea A. Fung)

East New York Farms is beneath is train trestle of the number three line. (Photo: Althea A. Fung)

According to David Vigil, the farm manager who has experience running larger rural farms, the farming teaches the kids about leadership and sustainable agriculture.

“For most of them it’s their first job, so they get to learn how a workplace works. It allows them to do work that is really positive for their community, it allows them to meet adults and other community members and interact with them and build trust. And it gets them involved in growing and eating food,” said Vigil.

According to Vigil, the farm is fertilizer free, which keeps chemicals away from the kids and the food that goes into the community.

To maintain the farm, especially in the winter, Vigil plants cover crops that add nutrients to the soil. During harvesting season, June to mid-November, Vigil and the 20 teens plant everything from carrots to bitter melon, an extremely bitter tropical fruit that looks similar to a cucumber. The farm grows lots of tropical fruits and vegetables that Vigil says are in demand because of the neighborhood’s large West Indian population.

Also in demand is the farm’s homemade honey. Though beekeeping is illegal in New York City, the farm has an education exemption that allows the young farmers to keep bees and produce honey.

In the three years that Vigil has been at East New York Farms, he has seen a change in the way the kids react to the produce.

“Anything that is left over at the end of the day they are able to take, or things that are little imperfect and we can’t sell, they can take,” Vigil said. “We used to take it to the food pantry but in the last couple of years the youth have been more and more interested in taking home what we grow.”

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Home cooks learn new tricks in Brooklyn

Home cooks learn new tricks in Brooklyn

Brent Young and his colleagues show how to cook liver the right way.

Brent Young and his colleagues show how to cook liver the right way. (Photo credit: Isabelle Schäfer)

By ISABELLE SCHÄFER

“We’re going to eat a lot of liver tonight, so grab a strong beverage to go with the strong taste!” said Brent Young with a grin to the 10 people gathered around the kitchen table at the back of the shop. Five different sorts of raw liver, shimmering yellow and green, one of them the size of a small pig, were displayed in bowls. Rock music accompanied all of the young butcher’s movements while he smoothly tossed  onions, beat an egg or chopped parsley. The smell of grilled liver filled the air.

The liver class on Thursday night at the Brooklyn Kitchen store attracted a dozen curious home cooks, one of the 15 different two-hour cooking classes the cutlery shop offers every month.

In the past months, demand for classes at the shop, at 616 Lorimer St. in Williamsburg, has grown so much that the owners, Taylor Ekkinen and Harry Rosenblum, decided to expand and open an organized cooking school that will be called Brooklyn Kitchen Labs, just two blocks away from their current location. They are renovating an old house with two floors, building a big teaching kitchen in the basement and a smaller prep kitchen, mostly for baking.  Another kitchen will be upstairs, as will more retail space and a butchery. The opening is planned for Nov. 7.  It will be used in addition to the old location.

The demand for classes may come in part from the economy,  According to Zagat’s 2010 New York City restaurant survey, people eat in restaurants only three times a week, compared to 3.4 times a week the prior four years, “They understand the value of cooking at home better now,” said Ekkinen.

Sandra Lara participated in the liver class and said she loves to cook at home.  “I used to go out to eat a lot, but since the recession started, I cook every day at home. So I really want to learn new recipes” she said, while prodding a piece of liver.  “I usually give liver to my dogs,” she said with a laugh; her specialty is jelly making.

Potential participants have to register online for each class individually. “Once registration is open, the classes usually sell out in a couple of hours,” said Young, who gives butchery lessons and helps out at the store. Most of the new classes are already full, with up to 15 participants in one lesson. “ People are being more comfortable with being adventurous in their own kitchen,” said Young. “And in Brooklyn, people tend to have good cooking space.” Most participants are 20 to 45 years old.

Until now, the Brooklyn Kitchen store could offer classes only in the evenings, when the 10-foot cashier’s table becomes a kitchen table. Interested cooks can learn how to make ice cream and sauces, charcuterie and sausages or how to bake French sour bread and Halloween cupcakes. But there is not much space between the cutlery and the cooking books to get seriously down to work.

“The new location means more room with more possibilities,” Ekkinen said. “We can have classes during the day and on weekends now, for example.” With the new teaching kitchen, participants will be able to actually cook instead of merely watching and taking notes. Twice as many classes will be offered, their price depending on the lesson. Knife skills class, for example, costs $45, while a butchering class can be up to $75 for one session.

At the liver-cooking class, Connie Madeo said she had taken  a pig butchering class, watching for two hours as a butcher cut pieces of meat from an entire pig. “From snout to tail, it was like a puzzle and he used only one small knife,” she said. “It was fascinating to see what I actually eat when I eat chop suey!”

Anne Hynes, who often cooks at home for her children has attended several cooking classes, and now was at the liver class. She has learned here how to make kombucha, a kind of tea, bread and sauces. “I like coming here,” she said. “It’s interesting and the people here are fun” She admitted, though, that  she doesn’t usually cook liver. “Let’s start cooking!” cried out Young. Obediently, she went and observed.

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Bronx schoolyard garden leads tween locavore movement

Bronx schoolyard garden leads tween locavore movement

By JOEL MEARES

Teacher Kelly McLane picking herbs in the garden at Bronx Green Middle School. (Photo: Joel Meares)

Teacher Kelly McLane picking herbs in the garden at Bronx Green Middle School. (Photo: Joel Meares)

Five years ago, school principal Emily Becker and teacher Kelly McLane visited the Edible Schoolyard, Alice Waters’ one-acre school garden and outdoor kitchen at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, Calif.

The two foodies, who met while teaching at West Side Collaborative Middle School in Manhattan, were impressed by what they saw. Seventh- and eighth-graders churning soil, pruning branches, collecting eggs from a lively chicken coop and cooking meals in an outdoor wood-fired oven. Becker says, “It was a marriage of my two passions: teaching and letting kids know how to eat healthy and where food comes from.”

The pair were so impressed that in 2006 they replanted Waters’ idea in the Bronx — creating an urban edible schoolyard, Bronx Green Middle School,  just blocks from a McDonald’s, Popeye’s, White Castle and Dunkin’ Donuts in the Allerton neighborhood. Along with math, social studies and ELA, the public school’s sixth- to eighth-graders take class in an outside garden classroom similar to Waters’ — a cluster of tomato plants, herbs and raised flowerbeds at the rear of the school.

Four years after opening, Bronx Green is at capacity. Every school day, 450 green-thumbed tweens work the soil and chew over buzzwords like “permaculture” and “sustainability” in class.

“Interest in school gardening is growing across the board in New York,” says Leslie Boden, a food consultant who this year released a free school gardening resource guide through GreenThumb, the Department of Parks and Recreation’s community garden development arm. According to GreenThumb, there are now at least 100 outdoor school gardens, mostly in Brooklyn, in the city’s 1,600 schools. Thirty of them have registered since the beginning of the year.

In New York City, where the Department of Planning says three-quarters of a million people live in areas with little access to fresh produce, that growth is critical. “Children growing up in neighborhoods without access to fresh food haven’t had exposure to fresh fruit and vegetables, the very sustenance of life,” says Boden.

But it’s not easy being green. While GreenThumb and other organizations like it offer support — arranging workshops, supplying soil and tools and, now, guides — Boden says there is still no single, centralized, source of support for people in schools who are doing gardening with students. “It depends largely on there being a champion or principal at the school, support groups and fundraising for it to happen.”

Enter Becker, McLane and their ilk. The pair wasted no time championing a school that addressed these problems when they returned from Berkeley. Becker enrolled in the city’s yearlong Aspiring Principal’s Program and the pair began meeting weekly to discuss everything about the dream school they were planning: From the curriculum to how to elect the PTA president and whether the children would wear uniforms.

Months before launching IS 326 in the fall of 2006, they were at the school from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week, ordering books, cleaning classrooms and drawing up schedules for staff. GreenThumb and Bronx Green-Up, at the New York Botanical Garden, supplied much of the garden tools and plants.

“Our school is all about making wise choices,” says Becker, 35 and every the inch the principal with her hair tied back, sensible slacks and button-up blouse. “It’s easy to default to the choices that are right in front of you. The corner store with the chips, the cheaper fast foods.”

McLane, 30, who wears her dark hair long and loose on either side of an unfading smile, and has a tattoo of a spider crawling across the top of her chest, says she’s loved food since growing tomatoes and raspberries in her parents’ home in Matawan, N.J. She helped Becker design the garden-centered syllabus that won them funding and an administrator’s license from the Department of Education.

In the syllabus, sixth graders learn to use gardening tools, transplant perennials, test soils and make worm-composting bins in a special course called Field Studies. The garden permeates the curriculum even when the children are inside. For ELA, sixth graders read assigned books such as “SeedFolks” and “Chew on This.” According to McLane, the latter is like filmmaker Morgan Spurlock’s McDonald’s exposé, “Supersize Me.” “We’re pretty intense here,” she laughs.

The first year culminates with a garden design class over winter. The students learn about perfect path width and which plants to place on slopes, to catch flowing water. Then, in pairs, they draw up new designs for the garden, which are exhibited to the parents in a Garden Design Exhibition. Next year, the exhibit will be April 16.

Each student votes, in a secret ballot, for a garden design, and the school transforms the existing garden into the winning design. The lavender, strawberries and tomatoes in the garden today come courtesy of last school year’s winner, Semina Radoncic, 13, and her design, “The Maze to Find Love.”

Bronx Green Middle School students Marco Herrera, 12, Edgar Pineda, 12, and Kimberly Dang, 12, reading a book about gardening. (Photo: Joel Meares

Bronx Green Middle School students Marco Herrera, 12, Edgar Pineda, 12, and Kimberly Dang, 12, reading a book about gardening. (Photo: Joel Meares)

The children at Bronx Green savor the program. Radoncic says she came because of the garden and loves using the extendable “telescope rake” to scratch lines into the earth. Marco Herrera, a slight 12-year-old who lives two blocks from the school, says he enjoys “learning about the nutrition inside the vegetables.” In a cafeteria they share with students from two other schools in the MS 135 building on Wallace Street, the Bronx Green children mostly chose pears over nachos on at least one day.

Armella Ujka, 11, says she likes to eat the fruit from the garden. Students take produce home or eat it at school during spring as part of the city’s new Garden to School Café initiative, where student-grown food is prepared for the cafeteria and kids are given workshops in food preparation. “With the ones from the store,” Ujka says, “you don’t know if they put chemicals in them.” Ujka, now in grade seven, became quite attached to the Bronx Green garden in her first year. “I used to pull out the weeds. But once, I got to this flower that smelt good, the lemon balm. We had to get ride of it and I felt bad for it because it smelt so good.”

The 30 teachers and 15 support staff have been tougher customers. McLane and Becker say some teachers have struggled with controlling classes outdoors and with the heavily specialized curriculum. Some teachers have quit. “We’re constantly changing, we’re figuring things out,” says McLane. “If you don’t have that entrepreneurial spirit it can be really tough for you.” When they do lose staff, Becker and McLane often don’t know whether to advertise for licensed health educators or science teachers.

The shortage has unearthed problems with the seventh grade Field Studies class, which adapts the curriculum from the Columbia University’s Teachers College. “Our second-year Field Studies class has not quite worked,” admits Becker. “We have not been able to staff a strong person for the seventh grade.” The eighth grade has no Field Studies component, but Becker hopes to eventually create one with a final project included.

Still, she is proud of the school she and McLane have built. “I’m not a mother but it really has followed the path of a child,” she muses. “This year is exciting. We just graduated our starting class and we’re back to square one, with a full school and a lot of experience.”

She is about to lose some of that experience. McLane, who this year has been acting “Garden Coordinator,” leaves the school in October to travel the world, dirtying her hands in organic farms as far away as Australia and Japan. She says she is glad to see more schools picking up spades and snatching up GreenThumb’s new guide. She hopes some might dig as deeply she and her friend.

“People ask, ‘Don’t you like being the only school that’s different?’ Maybe it’s cool to be different for a while. But I really want every school to be like that.”

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Brooklyn eat-in potluck raises awareness on school food

Brooklyn eat-in potluck raises awareness on school food

The participants could write letters to Congress   Photo Credit: Isabelle Schäfer

Participants were encouraged to write letters to Congress. (Photo credit: Isabelle Schäfer)

By ISABELLE SCHÄFER

On a sunny Labor Day, the P.S. 9 Teunis G. Bergen School in Brooklyn isn’t deserted.  Instead, tables with oatmeal biscuits, quinoa salads and plum tarts are arranged in the schoolyard. Around 50 parents, teachers and children have gathered to share homemade dishes and to hear about nutrition in schools. A painted cardboard letterbox invites letters to Congress.

This “Eat-In,” arranged by the nonprofit organization Slow Food, is trying to raise awareness about the nutrition situation in schools and show support for the Child Nutrition’s Act which expires on Sept. 30. It’s just one of the 300 initiatives launched all around the country as part of the group’s  ”Time for lunch” campaign.

“It’s really for anyone who likes good food,” said Heather Teige, an intern at Slow Food, which started the Eat-Ins last year in San Francisco and added many more this year.  The program stresses the government’s investment in school food. President Obama has proposed a $1 billion annual increase for Child Nutrition Act programs, but such reforms still have to be discussed in Congress.

“There are really three main agendas to be tackled: health, environment and hunger,” said Professor Janet Poppendieck, who will soon release a book on school food, “Free for All.” “Health is the one highest on the radar screen. There are still ridiculous standards in cafeterias and vending machines. You just can’t sell soda pops and marshmallows like that!” Poppendieck said, while helping herself to whole wheat pasta.

Children learnt about fresh food

Schoolchildren tried fresh vegetables and acknowledged the different taste. (Photo credit: Isabelle Schäfer)

Maria Mcgrath has two of her children in the Bergen school. “The cafeteria here is basically a re-heating station. My child wouldn’t even eat the vegetables, they are so bland,” she said. Her daughter now prepares her own lunch at home. Asked about the school food, the nine-year old just makes a face. Her mother would like to see more fresh salads. “The food is OK, but really nothing children are excited about,” Mcgrath said.

Older students have already decided to act. Marcia Foster gets up to tell those at the Bergen school about her high school project. With 15 of her comrades of the Brooklyn Academy of Science and the Environment, she grew lettuce, spinach and tomatoes in the borough’s Botanical Garden. The teenagers then offered the harvested vegetables to their school, who prepared lunch with the fresh ingredients.

“My friends actually liked salads for the first time!” Marcia, an 11th grader, said. “Usually, our school serves burgers and fries, and the packed salads are in the back. But they really don’t look good or fresh.”

Her project was part of an elective course. “They learn about food politics and agriculture,” said Marcia’s teacher, Irene Shen.  Now Marcia says she is more aware of her environment. “I think it’s really important to know where the food comes from,” she said.

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