Archive | March, 2013

Celebrating Kids & Healthy Food

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EdibleAustin_27-cover

Last year, Edible Austin magazine asked me to attend the Culinary Institute of America’s Healthy Flavors, Healthy Kids conference and pinpoint a story about kids and food for the Spring 2013 Wellness issue.  I knew some about school food and the hurdles faced by districts to revamp their menus, but had no idea how deeply troubling or complex the issue was.

As I started researching, I was struck by several things.  First, I was awed by the creativity and ingenuity with which people across the country were tackling the problem. It’s easy to blame the schools for serving less than desirable food, but the often maligned and very dedicated food service professionals in our schools are tackling hills of red tape, supply chain issues, equipment scarcity and, in some cases, disinterest to get healthier foods to the kids. Chef Kate Adamick of Cook for America calls school food professionals Lunch Teachers – our first line of defense in teaching kids how to eat healhty.

And, one of the biggest challenges is that there is no “one size fits all” solution.  What works in one district won’t necessarily work in another, even in the same state.  The changes and menus have to be retrofitted for the local community and the district structure – thus the complexity.  Organizations like School Food Focus provide technical assistance and networking tools for school food professionals to share solutions across the country so that everyone doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel even if they have to tweak it a bit.

Most importantly though, I learned that we have to model and reinforce healthy food at home for kids to embrace healthy food at school.  Intuitively, I knew this, but to see the empirical data that backs it up was eye-opening.  It’s easy to shift responsibility to the schools, but that won’t work.  We have to make healthy food a habit at home as well. I don’t have kids, but I consider it part of my responsibility as an aunt to help teach my niece and nephew healthy eating.  Chef Adamick said we all have kids whether they are biological or not, and I agree with her.

Reshaping Our Future Through Food was a fun piece to write, particularly exploring the great initiatives in the Austin and Houston school districts.  You can celebrate and explore real food with your kids at Edible Austin’s free upcoming Children’s Picnic and Real Food Fair on Sunday, April 7th, at the French Legation museum from 1:00-5:00 pm.

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Austin Farmers Market Round-Up

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Pears at the marketI met a guy a couple of years ago who started following me on Twitter. The next time I saw him, he said, “Man, you really like farmers markets.”  I’d say that’s a bit of an understatement – I LOVE farmers markets.

I’ve been hooked ever since my Dad took me to my first market in Amarillo, just a small group of stands, but overflowing with ripe peaches, summer tomatoes and green beans.  I love buying my favorite produce, discovering new meats, cheeses and jams and visiting with the farmers and food artisans. I always learn something new at the market and can’t help but be happy when I leave.

In Austin, we are blessed to have strong markets with quality vendors five days of the week and in all areas of town.  Some are big markets with as many as 60-70 vendors selling hot food and everything from produce to meat to olive oil. Others are neighborhood markets with enough vendors to fill a shopping bag, but not as much variety.  Added to the mix are several farm stands where the farm sells their produce and eggs, and sometimes meat, cheese and other products.

People often ask me about my favorite market and I honestly don’t have one. I go to the SFC Downtown market the most because it is the closest to me and I love having Dai Due for breakfast, but there are vendors at each market that I like to frequent. I enjoy going out to Cedar Park to meet one of my friends and then popping by Noble Sandwiches on the way home.  When I have my niece and nephew in tow, we visit the farms so they can see the chickens and ducks. And some days I just need to go to a farm and be enveloped by the peace of the place. Do not underestimate the power of a farm to relax you.

Following is a list of area markets presented three ways – first alphabetically, then by day of the week and finally by the location.  I encourage you to try a few markets to find your favorite. It might be the one closest to home or it might be the spot near your office. If you haven’t been to a market before, check out my Mastering the Market article for some tips on how to make the most of your trip.

See you at the market!

Market booth

 

This guide is part of the Austin Food Bloggers Alliance Austin City Guide. Check out the guide for other lists of great places to visit in Austin.

Austin Farmers Markets and Farm Stands

Barton Creek Farmers Marketback of Barton Creek Square Mall parking at the intersection of S. Loop 1 (Mopac) and S. Capital of Texas Highway (Loop 360), Saturdays 9am to 1pm

Boggy Creek Farm Stand, 3414 Lyons Road, Wednesdays & Saturdays 9am to 1pm

Cedar Park Farmers Market, 11200 Lakeline Mall Drive, Saturdays 9am to 1pm

Green Gate Farm Stand, 8310 Canoga Ave, Tuesdays 3pm to 6 pm, Fridays & Saturdays 10am to 2pm

Hope Farmers Market, Plaza Saltillo, E. 5th & Comal, Sundays 11am to 3pm

Lone Star Farmers Market at Bee Cave, 12611 Suite 100 Shops Parkway (Shops at the Galleria), Bee Cave, TX, Sundays 10am to 2pm

Mueller Farmers MarketAt the “Browning Hangar” 4550 Mueller Blvd., Sundays 10am to 2pm

Round Rock Farmers Market300 W. University Blvd. Round Rock, Saturdays 9am to noon

SFC Farmers Market Downtown, 400 W. Guadalupe, Republic Square Park, Saturdays, 9am to 1pm

SFC Farmers Market Eas<t, MLK & Miriam / near M Station!, Tuesdays 3 pm to 7 pm

SFC Farmers Market Sunset Valley, 3200 Jones Road at the Toney Burger Center, Saturdays, 9am to 1pm

SFC Farmers Market Triangle, 4600 Lamar, Triangle Park at The Triangle, Wednesdays, 3pm to 7pm

Springdale Farm Stand, 755 Springdale Road, Wednesdays & Saturdays 9am to 1pm

 

 

 

 

 

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