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Food for the Thought: FoodCorps!

October 7, 2011

This has been such an incredibly fascinating and inspiring week on “Sustainability,” that began with Outstanding in the Field, continued with governmental food subsidies, rounded out with Hungry Planet: What the World Eats, and now is coming to a close with…FoodCorps!

I discovered this amazing organization just yesterday, when they were featured in the Washington Post in an article that highlighted this fantastic new initiative.

Launched in August, FoodCorps has 50 members in 10 states, from Maine to Oregon and Michigan to Mississippi. Next year, FoodCorps plans to double its ranks and add several new states, not yet chosen. By 2020, it hopes to have 1,000 service members in all 50 states.

And what are the goals of this blossoming group? Well, to hands-on EDUCATE our nations youth to form a lifelong commitment to food and health eating. FOOD EDUCATION! It’s almost too good to be true!

The program — which places young leaders in limited-resource communities for a year to deliver nutrition education, build and tend school gardens, and work on bringing local food into public school cafeterias — is up against formidable odds.

In the past 30 years the percentage of overweight children has tripled and one in four young adults are not healthy enough to be eligible for military service. These statistics are only a portion of a larger more complicated picture, one where children in Arizona have a 22 percent chance of being obese, and where the average elementary school student receives just less than 3.5 hours of nutrition education per year.

Ohhh, my heart is swelling up with joy just reading this! Sure, it’s absurd how this is a ‘new’ idea (teaching our children about where their food comes from? You don’t say!) that is just being implemented, but it’s really happening people! Until a few years ago, America seemed content with the status quo–cafeterias being taken over by giant food corporations, vending machines in every school, companies spending billions of dollars marketing terrible processed junk food solely towards children…but finally we are waking up and fighting back and moving forward, to a future where a healthy lifestyle will be a right, not a privilege.

Our Key To A Healthier Future

The school I work through has a community garden on their premises and students are often taken outside to plant vegetables, check on the growth of their plot, and harvest what they’ve grown. It’s an extremely empowering process for them, especially when they can then put to use (in small cooking lessons) what they themselves have cultivated. And I hold conversations on a regular basis with the 6-year-olds I work with about the foods they eat, the foods they like, the foods they grow, where different foods come from, foods from the diverse cultures and backgrounds they come from, and how involved they are with the food they eat (do they help cook at home? do they go grocery shopping and help pick out food for their family?) and it is simply wonderful how this discussion and activism is being fostered at such a young age. Almost all the children I work with express intense interest in the food they are eating (although like any child, they love that extra handful of goldfish crackers) and not a single child I work with is overweight or obese. One kid maintains that “salad” is his favorite food and that he will never touch ketchup again because of what he has seen on Jamie Oliver’s “FOOD REVOLUTION” (more on that in a later post…) which he watches on a regular basis with his mom. It’s fascinating to be involved in, as I remember when I was their age (two decades ago! yeesh), there was almost no discussion being fostered, no classes or teachers dedicated to improving the quality of our dismal school lunches or teaching us about where our food really came from, and fast food culture was sweeping the country.

But that’s all changing, and FoodCorps is leading the way. The Grist (fantastic site!) recently featured a few out of this new crop of AGTIVISTS (love the term) and much of what they had to say was ultra-inspiring. I would definitely recommend reading the  interviews of these inspiring “foot soldiers.”

Stationed at: Arkansas Delta Garden Study and Marshall High School in Little Rock, Ark.

Wow. Well, as sad as I am to wrap this week of Sustainability up, it has been truly awesome researching all this and sharing with you. I’ve decided that each week from here on, I’m going to pick a topic and stick with it. Thank you for all your comments and the inspired discussions that you yourselves have engaged in on here. And please know that you can be an AGTIVIST in your own life, by the way you conduct your daily lives and/or by volunteering your time and/or by joining a movement. Just do what you can, because we can all make a difference, and we can all change our lives and thus change the world.

I shall now leave you with an enchanting video of The Vegetable Orchestra. Basically, they are a musical group from Austria that constructs all their instruments from vegetables. And I adore what they have to say about their mission:

isn’t it an ethical problem to play on vegetable instruments while elsewhere people die of starvation?

we have heard this question very often. if you are really concerned about the distribution of wealth then do something about it! read books about the real cause of hunger. change your own life and try to change politics. buy and support the right things. it is not people using vegetables differently than usual that make the world a bad place. it’s all of us wanting too much. our own car, a new cellphone, a bigger house with air condition, more money…

actually our instruments cause less problems than traditional instruments, laptops, etc…
their production needs much less energy and ressources and they are bio-degradable.

What do you do with the vegetables when you’re done with them?

part of the vegetables which are left over after preparing the instruments go into the vegetable soup which is served to the audience after the concert.
part of the instruments and other remaining vegetables we give to the audience after the concert.
and another part goes into the organic waste.

Take us out, Vegetable Orchestra!

(Image courtesy of FoodCorps website, please do check it out!)

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Steve permalink
    October 7, 2011 2:21 pm

    wonderful post! we have so many of these great types of “corps” going on such as GreenCorps and it was about time to have a FoodCorps. Thanks for bringing it to our attention HangryHippo!

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  1. Food For Thought: Food Deserts « Hangry Hippo

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