To close the gap, Just Food organizes workshops for urbanites who need a little do-it-yourself inspiration. Volunteers strive to make seasonal fruits and vegetables more appealing by demonstrating easy, creative ways to prepare them. The instructors teach at farmers' markets, schools, and CSA (community supported agriculture) drop-offs, reaching everyone from moms picking up their weekly supply of vegetables to Saturday morning browsers. In particular, they focus on low-income neighborhoods, which often lack fresh produce and have high rates of diet-related disease.
Lately I've become evangelical about good, fresh, accessible food. Which is why, on a recent Tuesday night after work, I'm scribbling directions in my notebook as a chef shows us how to make citrus vinaigrette, grill asparagus for a salad, and yes, prepare pea shoots. Our small group of young professionals cluster around the table, mastering techniques and variations. We won't just re-create this dish in our own kitchens, however—we're training to be volunteer educators, teaching others in our communities what we're now learning.
I share my interest in working toward a healthy food system with many of my fellow 20-somethings. Every generation identifies with a cause, and this might be ours. It's the wide-ranging efforts—from shopping at farmers' markets to keeping chickens in urban backyards—of everyday people like us that are making sustainable eating mainstream. Sometimes we're lucky enough to see the effect we're having, on people and the planet. At a recent demonstration, a Just Food educator prepared kale with caramelized onions and sautéed apples (a four-ingredient, ten-minute dish), to rave reviews from community participants. Making kale less mysterious is a small undertaking. But it's something I can do. That's how we're all doing this—lots of people, taking little steps, in the pursuit of fresh food for everyone.
Oprah.com Exclusive!: Get the list of volunteer organizations promoting equal access to healthy, local food, plus Just Food's pea shoot salad recipe.
Boston: The Food Project (TheFoodProject.org)
Chicago: Angelic Organics Learning Center (LearnGrowConnect.org)
Detroit: Fair Food Network (FairFoodNetwork.org)
East Palo Alto, CA: Collective Roots (CollectiveRoots.org)
Hartford, CT: Hartford Food System (HartfordFood.org)
Holyoke, MA: Nuestras Raices (Nuestras-Raices.org)
Milwaukee, WI: Growing Power (GrowingPower.org)
Nashville: Food Security Partners of Middle Tennessee (FoodSecurityPartners.org)
New Orleans: New Orleans Food and Farm Network (Noffn.org)
New York City: Just Food (JustFood.org)
Oakland, CA: People’s Grocery (PeoplesGrocery.com)
Olympia, WA: GRuB (Garden-Raised Bounty) (GoodGrub.org)
Rochester, NY: Rochester Roots (RochesterRoots.org)
Seattle: P-Patch (Seattle.gov/Neighborhoods/ppatch/)
Toronto, Quebec: Food Share (FoodShare.net)
WHY Hunger has a searchable database of organizations (https://www.WhyHunger.org/resources/grassroots-resources-directory.html)
Related: Teach a woman to cook...and she just might save the world