Experiential learning vital to food journey

That’s the question I often ask people looking to join the Nourish world in some capacity. Frankly, I am asking if you think about food. There is no right answer — only that you have one.

A food journey can begin in a variety of ways and include many paths — reading food labels, cooking for yourself, sharing meals, shopping your local farmers markets, shopping your local food cooperative, growing food, joining a CSA and perhaps even raising chickens or bees.

Do you have the same eating habits you had growing up? Was there a light bulb moment where you challenged yourself to eat differently? Perhaps you started life on a farm, then left, started out eating mostly processed food and now have your own garden, or somewhere inbetween. Perhaps you are comfortable with the current path of your food journey and have a passion for sharing your experience with others.

In many cultures — including ours — food is a force that brings people together. We share recipes, participate in potlucks, host dinner parties and deliver meals when someone is in need. In this way, our individual food journeys intersect with those of our families, friends and neighbors in our community.

At Nourish — a nonprofit organization in Sheboygan — we ask and encourage you to think about your food journey. We are entering a time during which, according to the New England Journal of Medicine, today’s youth will have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. This is not surprising considering the rise of obesity, diabetes and heart disease in Sheboygan County and across the county. Since the industrial revolution, convenience has been a deciding factor in many people’s food choice. Convenience food is often rich in calories from fat and sugar, but poor in additional nutritional value. To help you and others in the community connect on your food journey, Nourish recently initiated a Community Dinner program. Open to the public, anyone may join us for a seasonal three-course meal featuring local, seasonal ingredients. In April we featured rhubarb and in June will feature strawberries. Donations are welcome but not required and space is limited.

We will also host six workshops at the Educational Urban Farm, across from RCS Empowers on Geele Avenue. Learn more about pollinators, gardening, beekeeping and composting — all-important topics to the food cycle.

An important Nourish value is experiential learning. We hope to teach the community about food by inviting you to prepare, serve and share a meal together, plant seeds and harvest vegetables together, or teach kids about the Harvest of the Month. By doing this we are learning and educating each other and moving along our food journey together. For more information about Nourish visit www.nourishfarms.org.

I challenge you to grow a few carrots. Buy a packet of seeds, dig a square and place the seeds in the ground. Water them and watch them grow. You can tell they’re ready to pick when the orange tops peek out of the ground.

Or join us for one of our events. Happy food journey to you.

Heather Cleveland is the executive director of Nourish