Last month, around 30 high school students from all over the state came together for Georgia Organics’ Farm to School training at the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Farm to School helps get fresher and more nutritious food into schools all over the country. They support education through community gardens; some of which are in schools around the Atlanta area. I do a bit of gardening myself and I feel my school lunches are insufficient to say the least, so I was very excited to learn more about their program.
We started the day off sampling some of the delicious homemade food grown on Georgia-based farms. After that, we had our first session learning about food systems which involves where our food comes from and what goes in it. The majority of America’s food is controlled by “agribusinesses” - big companies that make food more for profit than substance. We played a game of charades to help us fully understand the five components of agribusiness – factory farms, chemicals, slaughterhouses, GMOs (genetically modified organisms), and processing. One of the most shocking truths about the food business to me was the fact that of the 1.2 billion pounds of pesticides used on produce, only .01% actually kills bugs! That goes to show that way too many chemicals are used and wasted in the food growing process today. We learned that the only way to avoid the filth added to food was to buy local and organic. We all got a handy guide to find markets and farms in our areas.
During the second half of the day, we talked about the Farm to School initiative and ways to get involved in our schools and communities. It is important for us to understand the negative impacts of today’s food systems, like obesity, so that we can make a change. Georgia is 4th for producing produce, but 2nd for obesity in the nation. Statistics like that make me want to hop on board with Farm to School’s mission and make an impact where I live! At the training, they gave us all the tools to do just that.
I will be talking to the nutrition director at my school to see if we can implement some of Farm to School’s programs as well as using the garden I have to educate the community. In addition, I will definitely get my family to do more shopping at our local farmers market.
If you would like to learn more about Farm to School, get involved or just check on upcoming events, visit their website.
2011 Youth Summit Alum