By Deborah Greig
Did you know that George Washington Carver developed 118 different products made from sweet potatoes including ink, the glue for postage stamps and flour? That 47% of freshmen students think fresh tomatoes are not very tasty and prefer sweet peppers? That there is a perfect ratio of tomatoes to tomatillos in an award winning salsa?
I learned all of this at the culminating event of the freshmen’s “Feeding Ourselves” unit, where all of their academic subjects were connected through food and the farm. They conducted soil tests, wrote personal food stories, conducted taste tests and researched the history of specific crops that we grow, and presented their knowledge on a night in November. The evening buzzed with the energy of a big family meal. Teachers, students and their families shared food, stories and knowledge that had been simmering since the start of the school year.
I slipped into one storytelling session and was riveted. One student, a self proclaimed picky eater, went on an unexpected food adventure one summer while visiting her family in Puerto Rico. Her words jumped to life as she described the moment her and a friend arrived at his house and “this mouthwatering smell…just hit (them) like a truck.” She described eating the dish, “when the food touched my tongue my taste buds immediately started to tingle…The piece of chicken…was the perfect combination of butter, pepper and salt.” It was the best chicken she had ever tasted…however, later she learns it was rabbit and is coming to terms with her turning stomach and eating this “extraordinary” plate of food.