DIY earth-friendly recipe for sowing seeds

Posted by on Sep 11, 2015 in families, Food for thought, gardens, healthy lifestyle, home remedies, local food, summer camp, Valentine's Day, pink lemonade, cranberries, recipes, wellness | 0 comments

During each camp session at Butter Beans Food & Garden Summer Camp, our budding chefs & gardeners bring in repurposed planters that would otherwise end up in the recycling bin or landfill. Campers fill their makeshift pots with soil, sow a seed with care, and water gently. They care for their plant throughout camp, lighting up with excitement when the first sprout peeks above the soil.

At the end of the camp session, the kids head home with their new plants to continue their gardening duties. Those campers who join us for multiple sessions teach new campers the art of planting, and are always thrilled to create another earth-friendly planter.

One of our campers (and future celebrity chef) Aidan was with us for five weeks of Food & Garden Summer Camp 2015 and became an expert in sowing seeds. This morning he asked mom to send us an update on his windowsill garden and boy, were we excited to open that e-mail! Check out this creative garden. Shout out to camper Aidan on his green thumb!



As our campers have shown us, you can grow a garden wherever you are, no matter the time of year, with a little bit of creativity and a lot of heart. Read on and get growing.

DIY earth-friendly recipe for sowing seeds:

  • 1 recycled container
  • Soil/compost mix
  • 2 seeds
  • Water
  • Sunshine
  • Love & Care

Directions: Cut your recycled container (e.g. milk carton or plastic bottle) in half. Add enough soil/compost mix to fill the container. Dig a small well with your thumb in the soil, then add 2 seeds.* Cover the seeds lightly with soil. Water, and place the pot in a sunny spot and watch your seeds grow!

*If both seeds sprout, remove one so that the other can grow big and strong. If you remove it carefully, you can try replanting it in another container. Leftover egg cartons are also great for sprouting seeds.

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, 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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food tracking

Posted by on May 21, 2013 in Food for thought, healthy food, healthy lifestyle, wellness | 0 comments

photo-39“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” – Anthelme Brillat Savarin

If it’s true that we are what we eat, what food or foods would you be?

If answering that question poses a challenge for you, then it might be time to take an inventory of what you eat.

Have you every kept a food journal? Try tracking what you eat, just for one day.

One day may change your whole outlook.

See how tracking your food intake may change the way in which you consume.

It’s simple.

No need for charts or graphs, just a piece of paper, pen and some mindfulness – keeping in mind to temper your judgements, and view your journal objectively, with an open and curious mind that is eager to learn.

Do you keep a food journal? If so, has it made an impact on your life?

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enjoying food the Butter Beans way

Posted by on Apr 15, 2013 in cooking with kids, families, fast food, Food for thought, giving, healthy food, healthy lifestyle, lunch time, nutrition, raising children, wellness | 0 comments

225071_499064973454665_451393431_nWe are blessed to have a wonderful team of food service staff nourishing our students everyday at lunch-time.

We received this post from Shaquanna, who has been working with us for two years, and wanted to share her journey with you all.

Why I love Butter Beans

When I used to hear the term “lunch lady,” I immediately envisioned a woman in a hair net slapping visually unappealing food down on a plastic lunch tray.

Working with Butter Beans has allowed me to develop a new vision of what school lunch means. We truly are changing the way America thinks about school lunch!

With food being at the very core of our physical survival, the quality of the food we eat directly impacts our health and well-being.

As a Food Service Supervisor, I take pride in the work that I do since it makes a difference in the lives of the kids we serve. By serving high quality, nutrient dense food to children I know that we are positively impacting these kids’ lives for years to come.

Before working for Butter Beans my eating habits were far from what I wanted them to be. I grew up on a processed food diet. As an adult these foods continued to be my main sources of “nutrition.”

After having children of my own, I wanted to be more conscious of the foods I ate. Since good eating habits begin at home, I knew that I had to make changes in my diet so that my daughters would follow my example.

Although I wanteBHGRsfXCAAAfYqK.jpg-larged to change, I didn’t really know where to start. I didn’t know much about organic, or processed foods until years after my daughters were born. But that didn’t stop me from implementing small health changes as my food knowledge grew.

With that in mind, my experience at Butter Beans has helped me tremendously. Working with them has given me so many insights on healthy eating that I am really grateful for!

I have learned that eating healthy can be inspiring and fun. I’ve also been exposed to new foods such as quinoa and hummus, which I had never tasted or heard of before Butter Beans. I’ve even learned to come up with healthy new recipes based on our lunch menus!

Butter Beans has become an inseparable part of my life, my thanks to them for helping me on my road to health and wellness.

I will continue to incorporate healthy food choices in my everyday life so that my family and I can continue to live healthy, happy lives!

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cooking is a revolutionary act

Posted by on Apr 1, 2013 in cooking with kids, families, fast food, Food for thought, healthy food, healthy lifestyle, news and happenings, wellness | 9 comments

Screen Shot 2013-04-01 at 10.42.40 AMIf you follow our blog, you most likely love to cook.

Well, we are in good company!

We are part of a movement that is inspiring our audiences to cook at home, fostering relationships with family, friends, neighbors, while furthering physical, mental and spiritual health.

Cooking doesn’t have to be fancy or feel out of reach. On the contrary, cooking should be seen as simple, approachable and fun!

With all of the jarring statistics we hear everyday, it’s comforting to know that we can change ourselves, our families, our communities by using our own two hands. Grocery shopping, turning on that oven, prepping those ingredients, and sitting down at the table can have profound effects on everyone involved in the process.

As Dr. Mark Hyman summarizes, “cooking…can transform everything…our health, the environment, our economy and so much more!”

Join Dr. Mark Hyman for an “eat-in” on April 7th, to “take back our health by avoiding restaurants and packaged foods.” On this day he asks us to make real, whole, fresh food and invite family and friends over to share in that moment.

Let’s all pledge to prepare more food at home, and help educate and inspire others to do the same.

Happy healthy eating to all!

Photo courtesy of

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