Cooking. A skill that was once a necessity has turned into a hobby. We have forgotten what our great-grandmothers passed on to our grandmothers. As a result, we are eating highly processed food that is full of salt, sugar, and fat. Part of reconnecting with our food is relearning what to do with it. How can we turn a bag of tomatoes into a delicious pasta sauce? How can we cook local vegetables on a tight budget?
Eating is something that we have traditionally done with others. Now eating is often done in isolation, on the run, or in front of television. Another part of reconnecting with our food is eating with community. It is more fun to cook when you know that you will be sharing what you have made with friends and family.
Cooking and community meals are part of Post Oil Solutions’ (Re) Learning to Feed Ourselves education series. Classes and gatherings are free and we come to you! Our goals are to bring people together around food, thus building community; to teach the practical life skills of cooking food from scratch; and to focus on preparing healthy food from locally grown ingredients.
We have been cooking with the women at the Windham Housing Trust Life Skills Housing Program since June of 2009. We started by making container gardens – growing cherry tomatoes and herbs on the porch. Then we started cooking together every month. We have also had a session on menu planning and another session on food budgeting. Kids come with their mothers to the class and help to cook. Here are a few things we have cooked together: garden veggie pasta salad, strawberry shortcake, potato pancakes, and baked potato soup. These classes are turning into community meals. We now cook and eat a whole meal together once a month.
Starting in the summer of 2009 we began cooking with the children at the Brattleboro Centre for Children (BCC). POS is currently partnering with the Brattleboro Food Co-op to teach monthly cooking classes at BCC. The toddlers and preschoolers learn skills like mashing squash, shredding kale, and kneading dough. We have been able to send home bags of produce and containers of soup at the end of the day. Our favorite food fact so far…kids love beets!
Other classes and community meals we have been involved in are at Turning Point and Morningside Shelter. Let us know if you are interested in working with POS to volunteer, start up or participate in a cooking class or community meal.
For all classes we use fresh local produce that is donated through the gleaning program of the VT Foodbank. We cover other costs with funding from the Vermont Community Foundation and the contributions of the Brattleboro Food Co-op. We develop our curriculum in response to what each class needs.