KC Urban Farms and Gardens Tour – Save the Dates!

April 28, 2009

The Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture presents the KC Urban Farms and Gardens Tour (Spectacular Spectacular is more like it – ten days of urban farm fun!). Plan to get out and learn about the benefits of urban food production, and to see for yourself all the amazing ways food is being grown in city neighborhoods.

Here’s a tentative schedule. I’m sure more specifics will be available as plans come together…

2009 Farms and Gardens Tour and Event Dates

Thursday, June 18, 6-8PM: Food From the City…For the City, KCMO Central Library: panel of urban farmers and gardeners highlight the variety of ways people grow food in the KC metro.

Saturday, June 20: Mini Market Tours @ Farmers’ Markets

Tuesday, June 23: Urban Foods Film Shorts @ All Souls UU Church

Wednesday June 24: Eat Out Local Night

Wednesday, June 24: Building Edible Cities: Urban Agriculture for Planning and Design Professionals

Friday, June 26: Bad Seed Market hosts daytime Urban Homesteading Class and “Funky Friday Night” Farmers Market, 4:30 – 9 PM

Saturday, June 27: Mini Market Tours @ Farmers’ Markets Other planned events: Harvest Meal – Bread of Life Church, Children and Youth Programs at area libraries, Starting an Urban Farm Class, Starting Community Gardens Class, Architecture & Urban Agriculture & Planning Program

Urban Farms & Gardens Tour: Sunday, June 28, 11am-5pm: Shawnee, KS, to Independence, MO, and many points in between will welcome visitors to tour farms and gardens. Day of the tour fun: children’s activities, live music, art, “Ask a Nutritionist¨ and more! Different types of farms and gardens will be featured on the tour, including:

  • Urban Farms… Feed the People– farms that grow food to feed others, selling direct to the community
  • Educational and Charitable Gardens… Sow the Seeds– farms that teach youth and adults how to grow their own food or that grow food to donate to the hungry
  • Community Gardens… Grow the Neighborhood– garden sites for the community
  • Home Gardens & Urban Homesteads… Feed the Family– a more intensive approach to feeding family and friends

Buy tickets at Brown Paper Tickets! $5.00 per individual, $12.00 per family, Group rate for groups of 10 or more $3.00 each person.


Food Preservation Classes in Missouri

April 28, 2009


Want to feed your family (or a classroom!), locally grown food in the dead of winter? Learn the art of food preservation in these upcoming workshops by the University of Missouri Extenstion.

You can also take classes from urban homesteaders Bad Seed in the Crossroads.

Tools You Can Use: School Nutrition Series

April 28, 2009

In 2008 I wrote a series of nutrition guides for KC Healthy Kids that  were produced through a grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City. Click the links to be directed to kchealthykids.org where you can view the complete documents.


Exploring New Flavors: How to Shape Kids’ Food Preferences at Home and at School

This guide explains how teachers, school staff and parents can acquaint students with new foods well before they line up for lunch. A feature article highlights Kiersten Firquain’s implementation of the first Farm2Cafeteria program in Kansas City. Other sections share resources and how-tos for helping students develop new food preferences.


Healthy Alternatives for School Celebrations, Rewards, Fundraisers and Snacks

This guide helps parents, school staff, and students “think healthy” when planning celebrations, rewards, fundraisers and snacks. You’ll find low-cost options, good-better-best choices, tips for easy preparation, recipes, and cross-cultural concepts.


Marketing Healthy Choices in the School Cafeteria
This publication explores unique approaches to increasing revenue in the cafeteria without compromising the health of students and staff. If you’re a parent, look this guide over, then offer to help your school food service department market their healthy foods!


Nutrition Placemat
This colorful placemat was created to encourage kids ages 2-5 eat their colors and get moving.  You can make the placemat at home — just print the document (in low resolution or high resolution), place the pages back to back, and put contact paper on the front and back. Finish by cutting and smoothing the corners.  Help your child match the colors on his or her plate to to colors on the place mat!

Special thanks to Liz Nord for designing the guides, and to Brian Grubb for designing and illustrating the place mat!

New book helps end overeating? I’ll take two.

April 22, 2009

Like Dr. Kessler, I’m constantly trying to keep my sugar habit in check. Here’s the whole story about his book:

Addicted to Fat, Sugar? Retrain Your Brain, by Laura Neergaard, Associated Press

And a few of my favorite quotes from the article:

“In a book being published next week, the former Food and Drug Administration chief brings to consumers the disturbing conclusion of numerous brain studies: Some people really do have a harder time resisting ‘bad’ foods.”

“The food industry has figured out what works. They know what drives people to keep on eating,” Kessler says. “It’s the next great public-health campaign, of changing how we view food, and the food industry has to be part of it.”

When a vegetable isn’t either.

April 22, 2009
This article hilariously addresses the pitfalls of “Sneaky Chef” and “Deliciously Deceptive” tactics to get kids to eat vegetables without even realizing it.
I’m with the author — let’s help kids LOVE their veggies!

By Catherine Newman

A Child’s Wisdom: When a fruit is not a fruit.

April 22, 2009

NBC Nightly News must have forgotten that childhood obesity (and the heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes that go along with it) has not gone away now that the economy is the media’s hottest topic.  At a time when so many kids (and their parents) are overfed and undernourished, here’s a program that means well, but misses some opportunities to teach children authentic lessons about how to make healthy choices, label reading and food marketing.

The snacks are purchased with money donated from residents and local businesses. I wonder if it’s possible to purchase healthy, whole foods from the school district’s nutrition and food services department (since most school cafeterias are required to generate income, that kind of partnership might be mutually beneficial), or to at least work with a nutritionist in the community to identify healthier choices. Maybe start a schoolyard garden and home garden movement to teach families how to feed themselves when times are tough?

The following comments made me hit the replay button. They point to a much bigger problem — the blind acceptance of nutrition claims and unhealthy attitudes about food:

“…Toaster pastries, apple sauce, granola bars…nutritious items the students can open themselves and eat without any preparation.”

“I like applesauce. I’m a big fruit fan — when it’s not fruit.”

(I don’t have anything against applesauce, necessarily, but apples are just as convenient, provide more nutrients, and help kids appreciate the fruit in it’s natural state.)

Harvester’s Community Food Bank here in Kansas City has a similar, but more nutritious, program called BackSnack.  Here’s what Ryan Kepley of Harvesters told me about their attempts to make BackSnacks as healthy as possible:

“Fresh produce is donated for our schools on a regular basis. We provide apples, oranges and bananas, and students almost always get whole wheat bread,” Kepley says. “But because backpacks aren’t refrigerated, produce needs to be fairly stable. There’s a 2-3 day lag time between when the produce is picked up and when it’s delivered to students.”

As for packaged foods, Harvester’s nutrition staff helps identify some nutrient dense choices: granola bars, juice, shelf-stable milk, and beef stew, for example.

This Friday, Harvester’s is hosting a donor recognition event to celebrate reaching 8030 kids each week through the BackSnack program! For information on the program or to find out how you can help, click here.

surprise snack

April 9, 2009


Today when I took Nora to school, I looked at the calendar and realized we had signed up to bring the afternoon snack. This isn’t something we normally volunteer for, and the little iCal reminder just didn’t work for me. Surprise!! Fortunately, my schedule is flexible so I rearranged my morning to track down some healthy, kid-friendly food.

I started at Wild Oats/Whole Foods on Main and looked up and down every aisle. I found things the kids would eat — grapes, crackers, baby carrots, etc., but I try to challenge their tastebuds, at least a little. (In the past I’ve taken watermelon and was surprised how many kids said they didn’t like it, or didn’t even want to try it. Sugar snap peas went over much better, and one mom said she wouldn’t have believed her daughter ate them without the photo proof I provided.)

At the store I struggled to find something that was cost effective for the quantity I needed. (I don’t want to promote the idea that Whole Foods is always expensive. If you stick with the basics and buy the store brand, it’s really not so bad. Besides, we need to value good food and be willing to pay for it. It’s just that the midtown store is particularly small and doesn’t offer as much choice as the bigger Whole Foods stores.)

Costco didn’t open until ten and I needed to go home and prep the snack before my lunch meeting, so I stopped at Cosentino’s in Brookside and decided on a multi-grain baguette ($1.99), red grapes ($2.99/lb) and a cantaloupe ($2.99). Total bill to feed 20 kids a healthy snack: $15. The grapes weren’t such a good choice money wise, but shopping in a crunch usually leads to a bigger bill, right? Next time I’ll plan ahead and hit Costco first.

Later I checked in with Nora’s teacher. She reported that some kids didn’t eat the fruit, some didn’t eat the bread, but everyone had something. Since I’m heading up the nutrition and wellness committee at the school, one of my first goals is to introduce fruits and vegetables on a more regular basis so everyone learns to like them. Hopefully that will make panic shopping easier in the future.