Tuesday, March 3, 2015

2015 Winter Gathering

Our 2015 Winter gathering was a hit! 

Alumni and folks from the community came by our annual winter gathering hosted by our friends over at Assembly to see what’s new with the crew, brush up on food justice, and sample some tasty treats this week. 

We enthusiastically greeted all of our guests and got the chance to hang with other FoodWhat alumni who came out to support the event.  As always, we warmly welcomed our guests with a vibrant selection of snacks. Butternut squash soup, freshly popped popcorn from the FoodWhat fields, endless kiwi slices, and breads and spreads. To satisfy the sweet teeth throughout the night, we served up scoops from the Penny Ice Creamery all night.

We brought everyone in after some time to chat to introduce our crew hosting the evening. We told them how we started off as interns with FoodWhat and worked up to farm stand managers and community organizers teaching others about food justice. 

Then we dispersed to the tables with snacks in hand to talk a little more. At each table, we pulled slips of conversation starters out of jars to fuel some food-related conversation among the crew and the community.

After the warm up conversation, it was time to talk some food justice and nutrition. Our crew got the word across through hosting four workshops. First, we had a public speaking workshop with Doron to practice feeling confident talking in front of others while paying attention to posture and annunciation.

We also dissected food labels by looking into the sneaky ways processed sugars hide in many go-to beverages. Counting out how many spoonfuls of processed sugar it takes to sweeten up even small quantities of refreshments, we looked to drinks with natural sugars in them for a refreshing kick. We served up some pomegranate juice and bubbly water as proof of equal deliciousness!

Looking at the big picture, we checked out Trace your Taco to see a taco’s journey through the food system. We learned about all the details, ranging from how far our food travels before it gets to our plate to how the animals are treated before they get to us. 

For a more competitive edge, we played Fast Food Jeopardy! As our opposing teams competed for the most points, we revealed all of the hidden details of the industry. 

After learning a little something more about food systems, we all came back together in one group. Everyone from the FoodWhat crew sat in a circle, on the hard ground. We started talking about how sitting in the sun, on the ground is a little rough despite being able to learn and work in fresh air. It can be a little rough. 

The crowd caught on pretty quick. We shared our mission to build an outdoor classroom for a more comfortable and effective space to learn throughout our Summer days working hard in the fields.  Everyone put their hands up in support of  FoodWhat to raising the roof!

Our mission stimulated a lot of excitement to hear about the growth we’re continuing to make on our farm. Some people made pledges and donations right away! Stoked on the new potential for the fields, we thanked everyone for joining us and closed out the night.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"Food, What?!" February Photo of the Month


Kicking off 2015 with a reunion of last year's crew!
Making veggie quesadillas at our Watsonville site at Live Earth Farm.
(Top Photo)
(Above--Miguel cooking it up with youth from Mexico and Nicaragua)

Last night FoodWhat, Jovenes Sanos and Rooted in Community, partnered with the Community Agroecology Network for their annual "Intercambio" hosting multiple youth delegations from Mexico and Nicaragua.  After sharing stories of each of our work in Santa Cruz/Watsonville, Mexico, and Central America, we experienced our connection in all being part of a global youth movement for food justice and community food sovereignty. The youth then teamed up to create a delicious meal together. They mixed in small groups to make chicken tacos with tortillas from scratch (see photo), a citrus salsa, fresh guacamole, a cabbage slaw, spanish rice, beans, a FoodWhat grown roots and squash medley, and a strawberry crisp with berries from Watsonville.

Next Tuesday, it's your turn!  Join us at our Winter Gathering at Assembly.  This is a free event.  If you are planning on coming but haven't yet RSVP'd, you can do so here.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

2014 FoodWhat Community Educator Workshop Series

2014 Community Educator Program

After a few days of training, our 2014 FoodWhat youth Community Educators -- Miguel Zarate, Uriel Reyes and Vicky Pozos-Bernal -- were ready to kick off our three-week workshop series! This year, FoodWhat Community Educators led weekly peer-to-peer workshops in eight classes across the county, including: Pajaro Valley High School, YES School, Watsonville Community and Jovenes Sanos.

Week One

Week One, Miguel dropped knowledge about the sugar content in popular beverages, label-reading and youth dollar power in, "What You Drink, What You Think."

After an initial brainstorm around what processed sugar does to your body, youth were asked to identify the amount of sugar in a can of Arizona Iced Tea. Not as easy as it sounds! Most were tricked into thinking the sugar content was much less than it actually is because of the multiple servings per can. Little sneaky, eh? 

Miguel raised the question of why a company may split sugar content into three servings, when most of us acknowledged that we consume a can of Arizona in one sitting.

Youth were then given an easy equation to calculate how many teaspoons of sugar are contained in beverages and invited to come up and try this out on some popular drinks. Once they figured out the teaspoons of sugar, we counted them out into a clear glass. Check out how much sugar is in a Coke...intense!

After Rockstar and Coke, we asked youth to calculate the processed sugar content of a "Juice Squeeze." Surprise! After examining the ingredient list, we found no processed sugar. It contains 100% natural sugar from fruit! Miguel told us our bodies need natural sugars to function and offered tastes of some yummy and affordable real fruit beverages.

Miguel concluded the workshop by asking youth "how many of you vote?" Although there were very few raised hands, Miguel suggested that we all vote, every day; that each time we spend a dollar, we are voting for something. "That's our power as youth!"

Week Two

Week Two featured, "Food As Activism." After a quick icebreaker, Uriel offered up a definition of food justice and told the class why it matters to him personally -- he sees a lot of obesity in Watsonville and wants to change the quality of school lunch so his two younger brothers have access to healthier food on a daily basis.  

He then invited us to do a group brainstorm of the following questions: What is activism? Who are famous activists you know about? What are issues people fight for? 

This led into the main activity, where youth broke into groups and were given a sheet containing eight short stories about food activism or activism using food. Groups were assigned a story and asked to prepare three key points to share with the class as a whole -- What were people in the story fighting for? What action(s) did they take? What personal thoughts or reactions do you have to the story? 

After hearing profound stories of activism from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to the Black Panthers to Ghandi, Uriel challenged us to think about the issues that make us want to be activists. 

What do YOU care about? What are YOU going to take action on?    

Week Three

In our final week, veteran Community Educator and FoodWhat Alumni, Vicky Pozos-Bernal, talked to groups about the food system in "Trace Your Taco," examining a Taco Bell taco vs. a real food taco.  

She immediately got student's attention by passing around a Taco Bell taco. We were asked to list the components of the taco. One by one, Vicky talked about where and how the majority of these products in the U.S. are sourced for the fast food industry. She asked students how far these products travel in order to reach a Taco Bell in Santa Cruz County. 

Here's a snapshot of what we learned:

The tortilla: most corn in the U.S. is grown in the MidWest Corn Belt region. Most is genetically modified, meaning chemicals are injected into the seed. The seed then grows with the poisons in it. It travels 1,500 miles to the Taco Bell in Santa Cruz County. 

The meat: cows come from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), most likely in Texas. Meat travels about 1,200 miles to reach the Taco Bell in Santa Cruz County. In CAFOs, cows are crammed in so tightly they can hardly move around. They stand in their own feces all day. In order to avoid sickness under these conditions they are pumped full of antibiotics, whether sick or not. Youth were invited to come forward and act-out these conditions! 

Vicky passed out actual pictures of CAFOs, as well as a list of ingredients contained in Taco Bell's "beef" mixture. Most youth had an easy time identifying 3-4 ingredients they put in the ground beef they make at home. Guess how many were contained in Taco Bell "beef"? 27 ingredients!!! Only 36% real meat! Whoa.

The tomatoes: 80% of tomatoes grown for the fast food industry come from Immokalee, Florida. Farmworkers are paid .50 cents per 32lb bucket of tomatoes. This means they must harvest 150 32lb buckets of tomatoes per day in order to make minimum wage. As if this weren't hard enough, farmworkers are also at great risk of ingesting chemicals from pesticides used to keep insects off the tomatoes. Tomatoes travel a whopping 3,000 miles from Florida to Santa Cruz County! Somewhere along the way, they are artificially "ripened" with chemicals. 
This may all seem rather discouraging...BUT WAIT...Vicky tells youth there's an alternative to this Industrial Conventional Food System. She then presented a "Real Food System," by offering youth a delicious taco made by FoodWhat from locally-sourced ingredients! The ingredients in this taco travelled less than 200 miles, were grown organically without pesticides, and the workers were paid well and treated with respect! So which would you choose?

The 2014 workshop series provided an awesome opportunity to reach more students with FoodWhat-style workshops, as well as a major growth opportunity for our Community Educators to step up as leaders. Many thanks to Miguel, Uriel and Vicky, and to all the students and teachers that participated in the workshop series!