Teaching kids to cook … and taste

I just read a piece by Mom of Picky Eater (one of Rachel Ray’s hosted blogs) that reminded me of the importance of getting into schools to teach kids about food.  Unfortunately, food topics aren’t typical in standard curriculum any more.  Fortunately, volunteers, like this blogger, help fill the gap.  Last year, I helped teach a kindergarten class at PS 51 about local fruits & vegetables through a program called Cookshop.  Each week I visited the class to explore or cook with a new ingredient.  The kids were really into the class (I’m sure partly because it provided a hands-on break from the usual reading or writing exercise routine.)  I was particularly encouraged to see that nearly every child tasted whatever we cooked that week.  Unfounded biases against vegetables (liked Collard Greens) evaporated as kids wanted to sample their own handiwork.  This experience provided a major boost for the “teach our kids to cook & they will eat well” philosophy (note: no hiding needed!)

Some pics from my Cookshop experience:

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I’m now going one step further as I work with teaching experts to develop a curriculum that helps kids learn about taste & flavor.  I believe that developing a vocabulary, awareness, and appreciation for food and the eating experience will be an important milestone on the path to eating well.  The classes for preschoolers, K-1 graders, and 2nd-3rd graders are nearly ready & we hope to offer them in schools and playspaces in the late Spring.  If you know of any venues that would be interested in piloting this program, let us know!

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