By Jamie Kennedy, Health and Wellness Coordinator
This summer students literally stepped into a whole new culinary experience. From scavenger hunts at local farmers’ markets, to solving protein puzzles at a specialty meat market, and diving into a deep sea fish market, students found an arena of foods they never knew to be edible and healthy!
At local farmers’ markets and produce stands students divided into two teams and each team was given a list of 20 fruits and vegetables. The energetic teams came up with names like “The Bok Choy boys” and “Red Hot Chili Peppers”. After arriving at the market they had 45 minutes to find internationally grown produce, most of which students had never touched or tasted. Local owners afforded us the opportunity to sample different items on the spot. At the end of class students could, from memory, match the printed name to the actual food and purchase many of the items they liked and wanted to add to their meals.
Here are a few we brought back to the center and used to quiz our fellow staff and students. Can you guess what some of these items are? (hint: the fruit in the middle is part of the squash family from Mexico).
From left: Sam with a Jicama (Mexican potato), Jay with organic capers, Charlie with a sliced Chayote (Mexican squash), Ben with a sliced Yuca.
Ross, David, and Rick getting help from local growers locating refrigerated malangas and yuccas.
Zach, Drew, & TC trying to identify different types of locally grown beans and spices. Zach purchased organic figs saying “…these are the freshest figs I’ve tasted since my trip to Israel!” This team was especially excited to return to the Produce Place for a weekend activity and make some more healthy purchases.
The great protein puzzle began when the students arrived at Petty’s Meat Market. Making their way past the seemingly endless refrigerated cases of meat they asked the meat manager questions about specialty cuts, how long to cook specific types, and what to look for when deciding what cut of meat to buy.
After many questions were answered Danny, the meat manager, hauled giant, uncut slabs of meat out from the walk-in refrigerator and demonstrated how and where different cuts are made. The protein puzzle was constructed and students were able to understand the importance of eating lean beef and in small, proportionate quantities. With an emphasis on the healthiest, leanest parts of beef students were able to determine what types of beef they should eat and how they can gradually shift their purchases of grain-fed beef to grass-fed beef raised by local farmers.
It was a huge success and students were amazed by how much they learned about what it takes to put meat on their plate. The end of class was spent making a few purchases and practicing their social skills with fellow peers and Petty’s staff. Students plan to return to Petty’s over the weekend to shop and continue to practice their healthy shopping habits.
Ross & Andrew choosing meat to cook for dinner. With over 50 varieties of meat and cuts at Petty’s Meat Market the students were amazed to learn they can prepare more than the basic strip steak, hamburger meat, and chicken.
Do you know what part of the cow a London Broil comes from? Brevard Center students do! The meat manager brought out over 150 pounds of raw meat and puzzled it back to together to show the students what part of the cow they are eating and what cuts are most lean. Discussions included grass fed versus grain fed and the impact it has on the cow as well as the students’ digestion.