Get an epicure talking about the source of their interest in cuisine or cooking and more often than not, nostalgic recollections of childhood will abound. Childhood and adolescence is where it all starts; it provides the foundation for how we establish eating patterns as adults, the roots of our knowledge about feeding ourselves and about the edible world around us.
Initiated by Alice Waters twenty years ago in Berkeley, California, The Edible Schoolyard Project now has participating Edible Schoolyards around the country where students learn to grow, harvest, and prepare their own nutritious food. Through lessons in school gardens and kitchens, the program educates students about the source of seasonal produce and teaches them how to cook what they cultivate.
The program targets urban areas where many kids are more accustomed to eating out of bags and boxes than out of the ground. And America’s obesity problem starts early. Over a third of all adults and almost 17% of all teenagers and children in the US are obese. While the two biggest culprits behind the childhood obesity epidemic are ostensibly processed food and soft drinks, arguably a more significant perpetrator is undereducation about nutrition, cooking, and food choices. Not only does the Edible Schoolyard Project combat the inaccessibility of healthy eating by taking the mystery and intimidation out of cooking fresh food, it goes several steps further by teaching kids how to grow their own food and even integrates food education into general curricular subjects such as history and social studies.
To anyone who places a premium on eating well—healthfully, artfully, organically, or sustainably—what more befitting a holiday gift could they receive than the opportunity to help implant seminal knowledge and memories of cooking and food in young people? Nothing could better reflect the values of one who chooses with care and passion what food they purchase, grow, concoct or consume than a non-profit organization like The Edible Schoolyard Project.