UC Food Blog
UC Cooperative Extension nutrition educators in Tulare County keyed in on that point in time in a play performed for 1,600 fourth-grade students at AgVentures Farm and Nutrition Day, May 23.
The play is a scripted game show titled “What Does MyPlate Say?” which encourages the children to think about the USDA's MyPlate eating guidelines, introduced to them by UC CalFresh educators in their classrooms throughout the year, when they order a fast food meal.
Five “contestants” were selected from the audience and asked to look at a food court menu. The first contestant is asked to select a fruit from the menu, and picks a yogurt parfait. Applause and a chorus of “Healthy, healthy, healthy eyes! Healthy, healthy, healthy skin!” affirm the choice.
The second student is charged with selecting a vegetable in the food court.
“French fries from MickeyC's,” he says. “Potatoes are vegetables, aren't they?”
The brightly dressed host, Sally Strawberry, admits that's true but declares french fries a “sometimes food.” Try again.
The second response, “veggie bowl from Bear Express,” is met with music, bells and applause.
Contestant three is challenged to find whole grains in the food court.
“Turkey on whole wheat from Sideway?” he responds tentatively. “Grains give us strength and energy to play!”
The fourth child to play gets a tricky question. “Can you choose a food that is high in protein but also high in fiber?” asks Sally Strawberry.
“Bean burrito from Beeanie Bell,” the child chimes.
“Muy rico,” Strawberry says. “We now have a fruit, vegetable, whole grains and protein. We just need a drink.”
“Milk, from any place,” the last child says.
See scenes from 2014 AgVentures in Tulare County in the one-minute video below:
As the school year comes to a close, the schools we work with are humming with end of the year festivities. Students are looking forward to summer break, but always ask if we will be on campus teaching nutrition next school year. The answer is an enthusiastic yes!
As we say our temporary goodbyes for the summer, we've been reflecting on all of the wonderful experiences we've had. UC CalFresh staff really enjoy collaborating with teachers dedicated to helping children and families build healthier lifestyles. It's a joy to see children learn to make healthier choices over the school year.
Here are some of the highlights from our work in community nutrition education that we couldn't wait to share!
The above images capture just a glimpse into the exciting world of nutrition education. This year we've celebrated alongside parents who have earned a certificate in our class series, helped establish nutrition corners to promote healthy eating, and so much more! We can't wait to see what next school year holds!
To learn more about the nutrition education happening in Fresno County, visit the UC CalFresh blog.
This growing season, I've taken a more philosophical approach to weeding. It's all about falling in love with gardening, again, every time I work in one. You take the good stuff – vegetables and flowers – along with the weeds.
Most of my professional life has been spent in garden-based education: the practice of it, the teaching of it, and the history of it. When my daughter was younger, I spent six years as a garden volunteer for an elementary school. I moved on to working with middle schoolers, and have worked with high school students to plan and implement garden projects. I've also worked with community gardeners. My professional (and also a highly personal) mission is this: “A Garden for Everyone. Everyone in a Garden.”
Recently, I've found great joy in helping my church begin a congregational gardening project. It's a small and simple effort, but it has the wonderful feel and rhythm of summertime: longer days, a more leisurely pace, casual and unplanned meetings with new friends in the garden, and the feeling that there is more time to focus on tasks.
I live in an area where we are blessed with the ability to garden year round, but summer gardening has a particular feel to it that evokes wonder and memories of other summer gardens. (Cupping in my impossibly small hand a sun-warmed tomato grown in my grandparent's garden; eating that tomato with them that night at supper with cornbread. A summer I was in high school, when I grew watermelons in the desert; it took a lot of water, and all sorts of creatures liked the vines. Container gardening with my husband on the back stoop of our first small apartment. Helping my daughter plant carrot seeds and holding her small hand in mine after, the way older hands held mine).
Our congregational garden is tucked away behind a gate and a block wall, a small oasis of quiet in what in recent years has become a busy urban neighborhood. It's a good sunny spot, a great place to grow vegetables . . . and weeds. Saturday morning, I arrived early to beat the heat and pull a few weeds. I was somewhat dismayed when I surveyed how quickly they'd proliferated. Truth: overwhelmed.
But I got down to it and focused on weeding, pulling one at a time. My busy mind began to slow down. Alone in the garden, I listened to the sound of birds, the muffled city traffic and got some much needed exercise. Weeding provided an opportunity to reflect, to look at how the garden is progressing, to ponder about how we might grow our efforts, to consider that the pace of garden development is a season (not a day), and to anticipate the harvest we will reap. Weeding also provided a quiet time for me to think about what I want to accomplish over the summer months. At the end of an hour, I felt a sense of accomplishment and peace. And I realized that the weeds had not been an obstacle, but rather, had provided an opportunity for me to just be in the moment.
We plant gardens, and they produce wonderful things for us. Invariably, they also produce weeds. Whether we view them as obstacle or opportunity is our choice.
The author's latest book, Sowing the Seeds of Victory: American Gardening Programs of World War I, is available on the McFarland Publisher's website. Anyone who orders the book can message Hayden-Smith via her website, http://rosehayden-smith.com, to receive a signed WWI-design bookplate.
This is due to the efforts of James Lohry, director of Farmersville Unified School District Food Service. Lohry completed a program called “Smarter Lunchrooms,” sponsored by the Cornell University Behavior Economics Center, the California Department of Education, the Dairy Council of California, and the UC Cooperative Extension Cal Fresh nutrition education program.
In essence, the Smarter Lunchroom Movement uses evidence-supported product placement and signage to entice students to make healthier food choices. Lohry's initial exercise was to remove fruit from the traditional plastic bin and put it into a tiered basket, complete with cloth napkin liners. Overnight the elegant display increased fruit consumption by 20 percent.
UCCE nutrition education staff serve as certified technical advisors for the Smarter Lunchroom Movement. Before implementing changes, Lohry astutely gained support for cafeteria/lunchroom changes by including not only his staff, but the student population as well. The AVID class at Farmersville High School has been instrumental in determining menu choices. (AVID is a program that seeks to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness.)
Lohry and his staff/student team established surveys and guidelines about acceptable nutritious meals. When asked if the typical lunches are filling for this age group, the students' answer was “no.” The high school now offers a “deli bar” with healthy sandwich options at least once per month. This option is a huge hit and when asked if this meal is filling and satisfying, students overwhelming answer, “YES!”
Lohry's determination does not end with serving more fruit and adding sandwiches. He is working to increase healthy options without breaking the school district's budget.
Have you thought of trying to sell your homemade jam, granola, pies, or candy? Do you have fruit from your orchard or vegetables from your farm that would have more value processed than sold fresh? Maybe a Cottage Food Operation is the place to test your product and your market and start your new business.
UC Cooperative Extension educators are offering two-session Cottage Food Operations Workshops at six different locations in Northern California. This hands-on workshop series is designed especially for farmers of fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs, and honey interested in making value-added products in home kitchens as Cottage Food Operations (CFOs). The workshops are open to everyone. Classes will be small, with a maximum of 35 participants. Sign-ups are coming in fast, and some workshop locations are almost full, so anyone interested is encouraged to register soon. Registration is available on-line. Each two-session workshop costs $25 in advance, or $40 at the door, space permitting.
Workshop participants will learn multiple aspects of starting a safe and profitable home food production business, including the details of the Cottage Food Law, planning, processing, food safety, packaging & storage and marketing. Instructors will be UCCE nutrition educators, economists and farm advisors. Representatives from local environmental health agencies will provide information about the local application process. Each workshop will also feature hands-on demonstrations and tastings by current Cottage Food Operators making a variety of products.
Another big challenge to producing a commercial food product in a home kitchen, according to Hardesty, could be all the time that the producer will have to take properly sanitizing their home kitchen before and after they do the production work.
Although the new state law requires that Cottage Food Operations be permitted in all counties, with permits issued by the County Department of Environmental Health in each county, fees for registration and permits vary from county to county. Counties and municipalities may also vary in other restrictions and conditions required before Cottage Food Operations receive their necessary business license. Some counties or cities may place limitations on the number of customers per hour to a home business, limitations on open hours for sales from home, and parking space requirements for customers. The workshops will help participants understand how to navigate the registration and permitting process.
A Cottage Food Operation can be a good testing ground for a farmer to assess the marketability of a new product on a small scale. It can also be a low-cost way for a farmer to assess his or her own ability to produce and market a new product. Due to the restrictive nature of some aspects of the Cottage Food law, and the limited scale of production possible in a home kitchen, most producers may have to scale up eventually to be profitable. However, at least one farm family that is currently using a commercial kitchen for jam production is taking the class to decide whether a Cottage Food Operation would be an economical addition to their production capacity.
- Fairfield, May 13 & May 20, 2014
- Ukiah, May 15 & May 22, 2014
- Eureka, May 28 & June 11, 2014
- Redding, May 29 & June 10, 2014
- Jackson, June 12 & June 16, 2014
- Sacramento, July 1 & July 9, 2014
Cost: $25 in advance/ $40 at the door, space permitting
Register online: http://ucanr.edu/cfoworkshops
For more information: Shermain Hardesty, UC Small Farm Program, 530-752-0467, firstname.lastname@example.org