How is Common Roots helping to provide food eduction?
Through community donations, Common Roots supports one food educator (Megan Brancaccio) who works full time (40 hours a week) in our K-12 schools. Additionally, Common Roots has two University of Vermont interns who work on the food education team. Collectively, they provide classroom lessons on the vegetable of the month, conduct taste-testings in the lunchroom, facilitate field trips to our farm partners, and have been available for curricular connections grades 6-12.
Updates from the Food Education program:
Since the beginning of civilisation people have grown and harvested plants to heal and promote health. In our modern times much of this knowledge is lost to us, we turn to the pharmacist for our health care, but the plants are still there and the knowledge can be learned. By eating healthily and choosing fresh, wholesome food we can work towards optimal health, but more than that, by using herbs and flowers in the ways of our forefathers we can cure some of the ordinary maladies that afflict us.
The Importance of Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
Eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables is one of the best ways to ensure good health, especially for children. The World Health Organisation considers low fruit and vegetable consumption to be among the top ten risk factors for global mortality. With the rise of convenience and processed food it can be easy to neglect to include enough fresh produce in our diets, and it can be hard to convince children that an apple or an orange is a better choice than a chocolate bar. The health benefits however, as well as the variety and versatility of fruit and vegetables make them indispensable as well as delicious.
Even the healthiest eaters among us, however, are likely to succumb to the occasional illness or indisposition. Turning to the garden to find relief, rather than the medicine cabinet, can be surprisingly efficacious. Of course, no one would suggest that modern medicine has no place, nor is it ever sensible to ignore symptoms. If you are concerned about your health it is always wise to seek medical advice. An electrolyte test can help set your mind at rest, if the results are abnormal then visit your physician who can help you to find the appropriate treatment. In all cases it's important to pay attention to your health and try and be in tune with your body. If you are in good health, then using herbs and plants to help ease those occasional minor afflictions, might be a good way to naturally and gently take care of your wellbeing. The overuse of antibiotics is linked to the emergence of new 'superbugs' which are resistant to known antibiotics, using natural remedies is a good way to help your body take care of itself.
Assuming then that your basic health is good, there are many plants which can be grown for medical use. Aspirin, for example, was developed from an ancient, fever reducing, preparation made from the bark of the willow tree. Scientists now create aspirin artificially however the active ingredient remains the same. Many other plants share the usefulness.
Taking a headache as an example there are numerous plants which can be used to relieve the pain, without reaching for pharmacy analgesics. Much depends on the type of headache; a tension headache can be eased by peppermint, valerian or rose hips, made into a tea. Ginger, which can be easily grown in the home, can be used to combat headaches associated with colds. Clematis, when made into a tea or a tincture, can fight migraine.
What is a weed?
One definition of a weed could be a plant which is growing where it is not wanted. It is true that many of the plants which might be the most useful as natural remedies might not be the ones that gardeners are familiar with, or feel comfortable encouraging into their gardens. However many of the plants which we disdain as 'weeds' are valuable tools for the natural healer. Our forefathers knew which plants to pick to concoct remedies and tonics; we need to learn to look through the eyes of the healer, not simply those of the gardener. Stinging nettles, for example, are very useful in cases of bladder infection; they are also a useful and healthy vegetable, as well as encouraging butterflies and wildlife. A small patch of nettles is a bonus in any garden, just be sure to wear gloves when harvesting.
A diligent gardener may pride himself on his lush green lawn, but a few dandelions among the grass would be no bad thing. Dandelions have many uses, including the treatment of diarrhoea and constipation as well as indigestion. The leaves and flowers can also be eaten as salad.
It is not wise to start picking and eating plants indiscriminately, some are very potent and some may be toxic. The best way to learn is from someone who knows your area and has knowledge of which local plants can be used to heal. There are also many books and websites available that have information to help a novice learn which plants to grow and how to prepare them. The use of natural plants to promote health and to heal is an ancient tradition and in our modern times it can be of huge benefit to all those interested in promoting natural good health.
Check Out These Revolutionary School Programs
Food For Thought
"Consider how Americans might respond to a proposal that agriculture was to become a
mandatory subject in all schools, alongside reading and mathematics. A fair number of
parents would get hot under the collar to see their kid's attention being pulled away from
the essentials of grammar, the all-important trigonometry, to make room for down on the
farm stuff. The baby-boom psyche embraces a powerful presumption that education is a
key to moving away from manual labor and dirt – two undeniable ingredients of farming.
It's good enough for us that somebody, somewhere, knows food production well enough
to serve the rest of us with all we need to eat, each day of our lives.
If that is true, why isn't it good enough for someone else to know multiplication and the contents of the Bill of Rights? Is the story of bread, from tilled ground to our table, less relevant to our lives than the history of 13 colonies? Couldn't one make a case for the relevance of a subject that informs choices we make daily – as in, 'What's for dinner?' Isn't ignorance of our food sources causing problems as diverse as over-dependence on petroleum, and an epidemic of diet-related diseases?"