We’ve been following the inspirational project that is FoodCorps since its inception – in fact, its co-founder Deb Eschmeyer was one of ourfirst Heroes. We are excited to hear that the FoodCorps isnow accepting applications for next year’s service members. Below, a recipe for a burger with a lesson behind it, from Food Corps service member Genna Cherichello.
Making over McDonald’s
Recipe by Genna Cherichello, FoodCorps service member in Maine
“As creatures who eat many different things, how do we know what’s good to eat and what’s not? That’s the omnivore’s dilemma and it’s growing bigger every day.” —Michael Pollan
FoodCorps Service Members nationwide are, in essence, serving to help students and communities navigate this dilemma that Pollan describes, through increasing kids’ knowledge of, engagement with, and access to real and healthy food. I am a service member in Maine, and it is a privilege to be part of this effort.
“Who digs these burgers?” Everyone raises their hands. Beef, bacon, onion and cheddar blend together on the bun. Consensus settles that these are among the best burgers anyone in the class has ever had.
If you’d like to bring your hamburger out of the fast food lane and into your kitchen classroom, follow this recipe. Broadened minds and strengthened community will remain long after the aroma of bacon dissipates.
1 innovative teacher
1 class of skeptical students
1 supportive, neighboring food co-op
The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Young Reader’s Editionby Michael Pollan
1 non-profit youth organization
1 FoodCorps service member
Students and Local Farms
- Together as a class, read Section One: “The Industrial Meal” of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Young Reader’s Edition. Any class will do, but my students are at Oceanside East High School in Rockland, Maine, where they are enrolled in an alternative education program that focuses on sustainable living.
- Have the students figure out the ingredients of their favorite McDonald’s meal. Identify the corn-derived ingredients. In addition to obvious choices like corn meal and high fructose corn syrup, be sure to include meat and dairy from corn-fed cows, as well as substances like maltodextrin.
- Calculate the percentage of corn-derived ingredients in your favorite meal, and determine class average. It will likely hover around 40 percent.
- Vote on a McDonald’s meal to make over. We settled on the Angus Cheddar, Bacon, Onion Burger.
- Pick up burger ingredients. Our class has a great relationship with Good Tern Natural Foods. We receive store credit in exchange for writing weekly lesson plans to educate K-8 students about the snacks they receive from the co-op through the Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program.
- Find a kitchen. The kitchen we use, flush with utensils and gadgets, belongs to YouthLinks, a nonprofit youth development program stationed in a house on the school grounds. The short walk there also allows us a glimpse at our garden space!
- Start cooking. Address any number of topics: appropriate portions, how to cut an onion, food safety, whole grain versus white flour buns or food miles.
- Acknowledge and appreciate the farms and systems that provided your meal. Compared with the experience outlined in Section One of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and most meals at McDonald’s, the ingredients in our burgers are traceable. Special thanks to Caldwell Farms in Turner, Maine for raising the cattle for the ground beef, Sonnetal Dairy in Smyrna, Maine for making the cheddar cheese, A Wee Bit Farm in Orland, Maine for producing the bacon, and to Hope’s Edge Farm in Hope, Maine for growing the onions.