Only two days remain before the November 30 deadline to donate to the Bridgehampton Schools Edible Foodbook Kickstarter project. As of Wednesday, November 28, it had already raised $16,332 of its $15,000 goal.
Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz, who teaches landscape design at the school and heads its greenhouse and garden initiative, hopes that the goal will be realized and that she and other Slow Food East End folks will be well on their way to educating the local community about healthful eating.
The need could not be more timely, or significant. The nationwide crisis of Type 2 diabetes and obesity has taken a particularly ominous turn for black and Latino children, affecting one out of every two, Carmack-Fayyaz notes. The PreK-12 Bridgehampton School District demographic is one third black, one third Latino and one third white and “other.”
Kickstarter (www.kickstarter.com), a four-year-old national funding platform for creative projects, is hosting this innovative enterprise, which is being undertaken along with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County in Riverhead and various participating local individuals. Other supporters include the folks at East End Community Organic Farm (EECO) and restaurants such as Nick &Toni’s and Foodies. There are other food-based school projects out there, but Carmack-Fayyaz says Foodbook will be of special importance to Bridgehampton students because of its wider goal to involve caregivers.
You can have the most imaginative curriculum and feel optimistic about its influence on the kids, she says, but at the end of the day, they go home to adults who don’t know about nutritious food and who are unlikely to offer dinners and snacks that do not reflect their own upbringing—namely the culture of the 1970s. They are also unlikely to appreciate the relationship between diet and illness or, if they are aware of it, will probably not know what to substitute for the fat or sugar-based meals they typically serve. Carmack-Fayyaz recalls a particular fourth-grader with Type 2 diabetes whom the school is educating about proper intake. The child’s blood sugar level spikes because of what the child has consumed for supper.
“We’re now into the third generation of fast and processed food,” Carmack-Fayyaz points out, describing adults who grew up on junk food. “Many of them don’t even know how to cook!” Home Economics, once a staple of public schools, has long since disappeared from the curricula, along with other life skills courses, such as sewing and shop. Many adults are also still under the impression that nutritious food is hard to find, more expensive to buy, more time-consuming to prepare and not particularly tasty.
Yes, broccoli costs $2 a head and processed cheese $1, but, hello, we’re talking basic food groups.
Foodbook will focus on more than the recipes supplied by students and chefs, one each, per section, about 20 sections in all. The book will be organized by food types and it will show new equipment that makes cooking easier, while also discussing cooking techniques. In the spirit of The New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman, it will concentrate on food that’s easy to assemble—nothing fancy, “nothing to worry about.”
The book, still in progress, is a two-year project that will be free to students in the 20 East End school districts. Of those districts, 16 will participate in an edible school garden program. Approximately 48% of students at the Bridgehampton School receive free or reduced lunch, so they’re not going to go out and buy the book. Lectures from visiting chefs and adult education classes run by Cornell Cooperative will also be free. Another thought, says Carmack-Fayyaz, is to involve parents in the edible garden at Bridgehampton, caring for a community plot where they can plant and then take away their own food. Bon Idée! Bon Appetit!
To donate to the Bridgehampton Schools Edible Foodbook Kickstarter project, click here.