Seasonality, or the concept of eating according to the current season’s harvest, and location (the beautiful and hilly driftless!) were the determining forces behind the development of the Northeast Iowa Harvest of the Month calendar. This calendar (see below) is a three-year curriculum guide for introducing seasonal, local foods to school aged children.
Throughout the 2017-2018 school year, Allamakee preschoolers and kindergarteners have been following this schedule by using their senses to explore broccoli in October, sprouting beans and making hummus in November, preparing a Carrot Salad recipe in December and becoming professional milk detectives in January!
To add to the fun, and further explore dairy products, students are making yogurt parfaits in class! First, we explore where our ingredients come from. Of particular interest was the granola – many students didn’t realize granola is made from the same rolled oats that we use to make oatmeal!
Then, we talk about the recipe and count on our fingers how many spoons of each ingredient they are to add to their cups. Because each table has to share the ingredients, this ended up being a great exercise in sharing and encouraging your friends. Some students were inspired to add ingredients to their cups after seeing their table-mates add them!
Finally, students add yogurt, berries, granola (homemade from the Waukon Middle School kitchen – Thanks Julie & ladies!) and sunflower seeds. Students would get a drizzle of honey on top if they buzzed their wings (hands) like bees!
After the first bite of the perfect parfaits, smiling faces were everywhere and the ingredients were devoured! Many students asked for more and thanked me for the healthful snack. I kept reminding them, “I may have brought the ingredients, but YOU were the ones who made it!”
Watching the students develop confidence in their ability to prepare something delicious, my motivation to continue this, sometimes exhausting, work was replenished. Kids can be picky and stubborn when it comes to eating, but being able to facilitate a truly positive and tasty experience between a child and food is the greatest award. I sincerely hope that experiences like these will snowball to foster the next generation of chefs, farmers, dietitians, food policy makers, and parents.
From deep in the driftless,