Monday, May 20, 2013

Week Nine at "Food, What?!"

The ninth week at FoodWhat is field trip week! The crews that normally work the FoodWhat farm swapped places with the Wednesday Live Earth Farm crew to give everyone a new experience. Not only does this give the entire FoodWhat crew an opportunity to see where the other crews work, but it gives the week an exciting twist. 

We kicked off a day at Live Earth Farm with a unique game of tag. People clustered up within the circle, touching feet. To be safe, you had to run to another group in the circle and stick to them, which made someone else in that cluster at risk of being "it"!

Next we made our way over to the field to start some work in the sun. To our surprise, sowing pumpkin seeds was on the agenda today! The pumpkins planted this week will be used in FoodWhat's harvest festival in the fall. It's important to get them into the ground early to make sure they're plump and orange by the festival. Abby explained how to plant these giant seeds deep enough and with enough space for the vines to have enough space to grow and produce over 200 pumpkins!

Then it was time to start making our fluffy, delicious lunch for the day: oven-baked pretzels, made by us every step of the way! The first step was to get the wheat berry from the wheat plants that were grown, harvested, and dried on the FoodWhat farm. Who knew a piece of a hose is the best handmade tool to get the job done? We sat in a circle around the dried wheat plants and began pounding them apart.

To separate the nutritious grain from the broken up plants, we used wind!  In partners, one person dumped the mixture into a bowl while the other used a cutting board to make wind, blowing away the light pieces of the plant and leaving us with only the heavy grain left behind. 

We brought our fresh grain into the kitchen to grind it up into flour using a traditional hand-crank grinder (a workout!) as well as an electric grinder for speedy processing. Seeing the whole grain wheat directly transform into flour really showed what whole grain flour is and how delicious freshly ground flour smells. We added yeast and a little bit a sugar and made a team effort to start kneading our dough. Now we know why bakers have big muscles: kneading dough is hard work! We put the dough together in a bowl to rise while we made our way over to a workshop to learn more about the grains we eat everyday.   


 First we made a diagram of a grain and its different parts: bran, endosperm, and germ. Then we talked about how the bran of the grain helps clean our intestines, the endosperm gives us a little dose of sugar and carbohydrates, and the germ is full of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Whole grains are pretty balanced! We shifted gears and talked about grains that aren't whole, like white rice and white flour, because they're processed to get rid of the bran and germ. This leaves only the sugary, carbohydrate-packed endosperm. What happened to the balance? It now made perfect sense why whole grains are the healthier option against processed grains. We looked at food packaging to learn how to decode advertising claims and look for the word "whole" in the ingredients. We now have a choice when choosing our grains!  

Then it was time for a lesson on straight talk with Doron. He taught us how to effectively balance our feedback to others with positives and improvables. He also taught us how to listen, take in, and process others' suggestions to us. We gave straight talk a shot first by evaluating our own performance at FoodWhat, making sure to balance our areas for improvement with our strengths. Because youth's opinions are crucial to keeping FoodWhat functioning as fantastically as possible, we did some straight talk about our nine weeks so far at FoodWhat and learned what others loved about the program and what might change in future years. 

Our dough finished rising just in the nick of time and we jumped up to start twisting it into all kinds of of doughy creations. We boiled each pretzel for a moment and then transported them outside to the cob oven (which gets hotter than 800 degrees!).

With the pretzels baking, we got to know some other hard workers at Live Earth Farm: the goats! And they were just as hungry as we were.

The pretzels were done in no time and it was our turn to feast. Each pretzel was fluffy, golden, and delicious. We added a little cinnamon, salt, or mustard for some extra flavor, but the most satisfying part of devouring these treats was enjoying to final stage of what started our as dried wheat plants!

We talked about our day's triumphs, which ranged from making the pretzels to planting pumpkins, before we loaded up the van and thanked Live Earth Farm for the field trip!

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