Edible Education Reflection by Head Chef Educator, Lisa Kalabokis

10/14/2019

The Edible Education school year is in full swing! At the beginning of September, Green City Market began teaching full time at our one of our partner schools, Carl Von Linne in Chicago’s Avondale neighborhood. In a few short weeks, we'll return to teach at DePaul College Prep. 

At Carl Von Linne, our students, range from young third graders all the way to eighth graders. The students have already proven their interest and engagement level in Edible Ed in ways that continue to surprise me every single day that I am in the classroom. 

From the dynamic questions that they have asked to demonstrating their knowledge and enthusiasm for cooking, our students are eager and ready for whatever is thrown at them. 

Von Linne is quite a unique school. The administration and faculty are incredibly forward-thinking and have the benefit of three gardens that their students are able to harvest. We have already reaped these benefits in the kitchen classroom through the use of fresh cucumbers, peppers, and tons of herbs! 

From these treasures, our first lesson together as a class was to prepare a fresh cucumber salsa, highlighting the diversity and creativity that gardens can inspire within students and adults alike.

A lesson in seasonality

Many of our students were surprised that a salsa could be made from vegetables that aren’t traditionally found in salsa, such as cucumburs. This provided an important lesson on seasonality: using what’s ready to harvest minimizes waste and presents a challenge to trust your gut and not the recipe, a mantra that they hear me say at least once a day and one that they will continue to hear throughout our time together. 

I can see the wheels starting to turn when we challenge our students to think outside the parameters of what we are taught about our food system. I can hear them asking questions about how and what we do with food waste. 

Reducing food waste and composting in the classroom

We have established a composting system in the classroom, encouraging our students to think before they throw any item in the garbage or recycling bin. Was that item once alive? If so, where does it go? Whether it be garlic skins or a cup made of corn, our students are starting to comfortably settle into the routine of composting which is something that we endeavor for them to carry with them throughout their lifetimes. 

To further drive home the importance of honoring the people who grow our food, we made a gazpacho from the leftover salsa from the week prior, emphasizing that a simple seasoning adjustment and a blender can turn something into a totally different meal with just a bit of effort. 

As our year continues, students will continue to sharpen their culinary skills, build confidence in the kitchen classroom, and begin to build the skills and knowledge needed to nourish themselves for a lifetime. 

Stay tuned…there are many more delicious things to come.

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