Saving the Food

Posted by on Nov 3, 2016 in agriculture, compost, healthy lifestyle, sustainability | 0 comments

15951717452_db57fddd28_bFood is the largest source of waste in the United States.

Most of the wasted food is thrown away by consumers at home, and the most tossed foods are fruits and vegetables.

97% of the wasted food ends up in landfills, where it breaks down anaerobically (without oxygen), and emits methane, a greenhouse gas 20-30 times as powerful as carbon dioxide in its contribution to climate change.

So, what can we do? Here are a few simple tips to curb your own food waste!

  • Take a doggie bag when going out to dinner! Restaurants are another big contributor to food waste, and most diners leave food on their plates and don’t take it home to eat later.
  • Think twice about tossing food because of date labels They are not regulated and most of the time have nothing to do with how safe the food is to eat. Click here to watch a fascinating five minute film about date labels created by the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic.
  • Make sure you’re storing food properly Produce keeps longer in the refrigerator. When food is about to spoil, freeze it, or cook it! You can even prepare a dish and then freeze it for a later meal. One example is peeling and freezing overripe bananas in a Ziploc bag to use to make best smoothies, banana bread, and banana ice cream!
Check out the campaign launched by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Ad Council called Save the Food, and get inspired to start reducing your own food waste at home!
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easy steps to create a pollinator garden

Posted by on Jul 28, 2016 in agriculture, gardens, healthy food, pollinators | 0 comments

unnamed (2)The Churchill garden is a buzz!

Did you know that pollinators are responsible for 1 out of 3 bites of food we eat everyday?

There are 430 different bee species in New York State alone, but sadly they are in trouble due to pesticides and losses in nesting habitats. Many colonies are lost to colony collapse disorder a problem whose cause is not fully understood.

Through our pollinator workshop, the students at the Churchill School & Center did their part to protect their native city dwelling bees. As pictured, their flower pots show that you don’t need a lot of space to start a pollinator garden. Here’s how they did it:

Step One: Go native with your flowers. Plant flowers that are pesticide free and local to the area. Good plants for pollinators include: aromatic herbs, colorful nectar rich flowers, and wild grasses. The students planted spearmint, violet luscious grape, blue supertunia bordeaux, orange luscious citrus blend, and local Sunset Park wheatgrass by Union Square Grassman. Bees are particularly drawn to blue flowers. The Churchill students being as pollinator inclusive as they are, also planted orange luscious citrus blend to attract red loving hummingbirds and butterflies. The orange luscious citrus blend has quickly become a yard favorite because of its amazing citrusy nectar scent.

unnamed (3)Step Two: Add water to the mix. Bees use mud to build their homes. Butterflies sip at shallow pools, mud puddles, and birdbaths. Here the students created “landing pads” by digging shallow holes outlined by a few stones. Butterflies especially love lighter colored stones. We have spotted quite a few perching themselves on the stones to cool off these past hot summer days.

Step Three: Materials for home improvement. Create small piles of twigs and brush. Bees and birds will use these materials to build their nests.

Follow these steps, and like the garden at Churchill, and you will have a beautiful garden that delights your senses and supports our garden helpers, the pollinators.

This post was written by Gisselle Madariaga, Butter Beans Food & Garden Summer Camp Assistant Camp Director 

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Spotlight On Brussels Sprouts

Posted by on Oct 26, 2015 in agriculture, cooking with kids, fall recipes, families, Food for thought, gardens, healthy food, healthy lifestyle, nutrition, Recipes, seasonal | 0 comments

As the fall harvest season winds down, we have a feature on Brussels Sprouts, a late season vegetable that can still be found fresh and delicious into November.

Brussels Sprouts have long been popular in the city of Brussels, Belgium, where it’s presumed their name originates from. Most American Brussels Sprouts arbrusselse grown along the central coast of California, but locally, Long Island is also considered to have one of the best climates for growing the vegetable. About 27,000 tons of Brussels Sprouts are grown each year in the United States.

In addition to being fresh and tasty in the late fall season, Brussels Sprouts are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. They are high in both Vitamin C and Vitamin K, which helps prevent Alzheimer’s,  and are considered to have anti-cancer nutritional properties. Brussels Sprouts are also a great source of antioxidants.

Still not sold? Check out this recipe for a delicious Brussels Sprout, Apple, and Melted Brie Sandwich created by our Director of Community and Nutrition. For the full blog post of the recipe, including, cooking instructions, click here.

Ingredients:

  • English muffin (or baguette, sliced bread, gluten free bread)
  • 3-4 thin slices of brie
  • 2-3 thin slices of apple
  • small handful of brussels sprouts
  • dollop of mustard
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • pinch of salt
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One Summer Morning at Stone Barns Farm Camp

Posted by on Sep 9, 2015 in agriculture, cooking with kids, Food & Farm program, gardens, healthy food, healthy lifestyle, local food, summer camp, sustainability, wellness | 0 comments

Sitting among the soft rolling hills of Tarrytown, New York, resides Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture – the rural outpost of Dan Barber’s Blue Hill restaurant and the nonprofit educational farm where some 450 students spend part of their summer here each year. Now in its eleventh season, Stone Barns Farm Camp offers kids in grades first through eighth the opportunity to explore the food that fuels them on farm-to-table adventures and interactive activities in food and agriculture.

 

The camp’s aim to inspire future food leaders resonates with us here at Butter Beans. At Butter Beans Food & Garden Summer Camp we are continually seeking innovative examples of food education, and opportunities to share best practicesIMG_2953 in the field. With this vision in mind, and inspired by the Farm Camp’s online brochure, I reached out to Stone Barns to arrange a visit to camp. A few e-mail exchanges and some minor schedule changes later, and I was on my way up I-87 headed north, out of the bustling traffic of New York City to Tarrytown. I pulled into the gravel driveway that led up to the Stone Barns Center at 8:45 AM. Though only an hour’s drive north of midtown Manhattan, the tranquil, misty fields lining either side of the drive painted a bucolic scene, evoking images of a simpler time when the pace of life ebbed in rhythm with the rising sun and changing winds.

 

A bit further up the drive, the scene before me told a more nuanced story of this verdant setting. As I walked to the Center’s entrance, two school buses pulled up to the sidewalk, opened their doors, and out piled two dozen city kids, unabashed smiles and visible excitement adorning their faces on today – their first day of camp. The day of my visit was the first Monday of the final session of Farm Camp 2015, and both new and returning campers filed into the main hall to decorate their farm journals in preparation for the day ahead.

 

Walking among the tables of Sprouts, Growers, Farmers, and Foragers (apt names for the various age groups), I listened in as the counselors drummed up excitement for the day’s activities and fielded the numerous questions of curious campers. The groups gathered in the Center’s stone courtyard for an official welcome to camp and then set out for farm adventures.

 

I followed Camp Director Jason Hult to address the first item on the agenda for the Sprouts – turkey herding. Most of us are familiar with the relationship of shepherd and sheep, but as the campers and I learned that morning herding is an equally important task for turkeys given their lifestyle at Stone Barns.

 

One of the farm’s operating principles is happy animals. As Dan Barber illuminates in his book The Third Plate, animals that are cared for and respected during their life in turn produce a superior meal, both in terms of nutrition and flavor. For Stone Barns, part of this means that the turkeys are moved between their indoor and outdoor homes during the day, and given plenty of space to move about.

 

After an engaging explanation and demonstration from Jason (in which Jason and I played the turkeys for the kids to practice their herding skills), we set off down the patIMG_2942h to the turkey house and met one of the farm apprentices to shepherd the turkeys to their outside paddock. Some of the campers had trepidations as we started down the dirt path with the flock – a justifiable feeling given that some of the campers were not much taller than these confident heritage turkeys. But with the guidance and encouragement of the camp counselors, the campers gracefully saw to it that each turkey made it to its outdoor home.

 

Throughout the morning as I listened to the exchanges between campers and counselors over garden beds and grassy pastures, I was reminded of the unique community that grows from a shared excitement for food. Whether you’re sowing seeds or herding turkeys, it’s hard not to get excited. Every way you approach it, food is an opportunity for engagement. It is the universal language that binds us, regardless of age, ethnicity, or professional pursuit.

 

The students who come through Butter Beans Food & Garden Summer Camp and Stone Barns Farm Camp give us hope for what the future of food holds when we empower youth with the tools to grow, cook, and pause to consider the food on their plate. As a farmer sows seeds in the soil and awaits that first flush of green to burst forth from the ground, so too does an educator sow the seeds of innovation that will grow a mindful community of global food citizens.

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Special thanks to our friends at Stone Barns for their gracious hospitality and abundant energy!

Written by Kelly McGlinchey, Director of Food Education

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campfire stories: growing the magic of summer

Posted by on Aug 14, 2015 in agriculture, cooking classes, cooking with kids, families, Food & Farm program, Food for thought, food waste, gardens, healthy food, seasonal celebrations, summer camp, sustainability, wellness | 0 comments

Today Butter Beans Food & Garden summer campers celebrate the final day of camp for the 2015 season.

In the eight weeks since our summer camp began, nearly 100 students have come through the Food & Garden camp program – pickling, planting, foraging, cooking, sharing, and growing together through a hands-on experience where the rooftop farms, community gardens, farmers markets and restaurants of New York City provide the classroom.

This is always a bittersweet day for our team of food educators. For campers and counselors alike, saying good-bye can be difficult after so many adventures together exploring the food landscape of the Big Apple. But we do so knowing this parting is really more of a “see you soon.”

The children who graduate today as Food & Garden Experts – and all those students who have come through our summer programs in the past two months – will continue to explore, innovate, inspire, and share in growing the good food movement.

These campers are future business leaders, professors, politicians, lawyers, policy makers, social workers, teachers, and consumers. And, if at ages 6-10 they are celebrating seasonal food, helping the health of our ecosystems, and connecting with their local food communities… well, it seems that our future is in good hands!

Though Butter Beans Food & Garden Summer Camp 2015 is at an end, the magic does not stop here!

This is only the beginning of the adventures that await our campers, and we can’t wait to see where their adventures lead them.

Check out how you can continue the magic of Butter Beans Food & Garden Summer Camp at home with our 5 Ways to Grow Future Food Leaders.

As we do each day at camp, we’d like to thank the chefs, farmers, food innovators, gardeners, parents, families, and educators who bring our Food & Garden Summer Camp to life each year. And, above all, we say THANK YOU to the campers who motivate us each and every day to do better, think bigger, and laugh more.

You are an inspiration!

We’ll see you in the kitchen and garden next summer. Until then, happy cooking and bon appétit!

Written by Kelly McGlinchey, Director of Food Education

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food supply realities

Posted by on Aug 7, 2015 in agriculture, Food for thought, healthy food, school food | 0 comments

We’d like to welcome our Executive Chef, Nicholas Littell as a guest blogger. His post discusses the increase in the price of eggs that we are currently experiencing (August, 2015). We hope that this insider look into the food supply will add more transparency to our collective food realities, and inspire us to question price increases in our food system. 

2607036664_da729b4bd5_zThe price of eggs have tripled.  I reread the statement, yes it still really says that.  I checked an old invoice, maybe my brain isn’t working right and I’m not remembering the price…nope still triple.

In my business it isn’t unusual for the company you buy food from to “accidentally” increase the price on an item from time to time.  Usually it’s a small change and sometimes it’s a moderate change, but triple?  I suspect they know that I buy hundreds of items a week and it wouldn’t be difficult for something to be missed.  Prices constantly fluctuate for a myriad of reasons, weather, season, packaging changes, and, I was soon to find out, something even more disheartening.

Before I call a company about an error I like to arm myself with as much information as possible in order to stop any argument before it begins.  Most of the prices on the common things we eat are set by market prices, this is the base price and then the company you actually buy from generally adds a small percentage in order to make their business work.  The normal addition is 5% to as much as 20%.

It is my job as the chef to make sure that, that addition is as small as possible.  The best way to see how much you are being charged for their service is to check the market price, which is easily accessed through the USDA website, thank you internet!  So I opened my browser and headed over to USDA.gov, and wouldn’t you know it the price of eggs really has gone up.

10895790773_dea21e4a4a_zThe next thing I did, sent me down the rabbit hole.  I googled “why are eggs so expensive?”  It turns out the United States has been hit with an avian flu epidemic.  What started slowly in British Columbia has spread through migratory ducks to Washington State and Oregon then exploded when it hit Minnesota with over 50% of all turkeys in the United States.  This quickly spread to Iowa which is the largest state in regard to chicken and egg production, they hold over 20% of the egg laying hens.  This unfortunately has resulted in the “culling” of more than 26 million chickens in the past couple months with more to come.

I have been involved in the food supply chain in some facet for over twenty years, and I have never seen the things I am starting to see with more regularity over the past decade.  Starting with the global rice crisis in 2008, to the food shortages in the Middle East that spurred the Arab Spring, and to something as simple as the price of eggs.

Our food system is in a precarious position. We are running out of water in our largest agricultural state and our soil is the poorest in quality it has ever been.  There are a multitude of other examples of issues and causes that would be beyond the scope of this blog post, but I think you see what I am getting at.

I don’t think there is a silver bullet for this, I do think that it will take a massive shift in how people think about the way we eat and the effect our daily actions have in the way we as people live in nature and not as an outsider to it.

How will this food supply reality impact school lunch? We are in the process of reconsidering the amount of eggs that we use until the situation improves. We believe that even without eggs present on our cold or hot bar menu, that there will still be plenty of good protein available for our customers to enjoy each and everyday.

Photos courtesy of Woodley Wonder Works & David Goehring

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