The Congressional decision to cut SNAP dollars (formerly known as food stamps) starting November 1 makes Halloween especially scary this year. The government shutdown meant no one was minding the store at the CDC to address last week's salmonella outbreak. Meanwhile, the food industry has upwards of $2 billion to market junk food and sugar-laden cereals and sodas to kids. So how do we get back to accessible, healthy and sustainable food?
This Thursday, bite into something real -- Food Day. Sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food Day, now in its third year, is modeled on Earth Day and draws on some of that vintage hippie activism. There's Food Day parties galore but they're all about taking back our food system with real get-out-in-the-street stuff and returning to real food -- like apples. When's the last time you ate a real one? It's time to make friends again. Join one of the nation's Big Apple Crunch events -- sort of like fresh apple flash mobs. The crunch, the sweetness and the little bit of tart of real apples are better than you remember and they beat the panties off apple-flavored anything.
Food Day is also about real get-in-the kitchen stuff withLet's Get Cooking classes for kids. I do it through Common Threads, for my niece's Girl Scout troop, and it's always a blast. Connecting real kids with real food is profound and has lasting effects -- improved behavior, better school performance, increased sense of empowerment and self-esteem, healthier lives for themselves and their families. Well, who wouldn't want that?
CSPI advocates making food basics part of the school curriculum. I'm all for teaching food basics at home. Until the advent of Big Food, it's how we all used to learn where food came from, how to source, preserve and prepare it, how to value it. And when pumpkin flavored lattes outsell real seasonal pumpkin, we can all do with some remedial lessons about real food. Cooking together is a great family activity requiring no Food Network chef. Learn together. Everyone can be participate and there's a built-in reward -- sitting down together for a spectacular, satisfying home-cooked meatless meal you've prepared yourselves. It's about connecting to real food -- at any age.
It's going to take more than a day to change our food system, especially with the federal government outgunned by food manufacturers. Change starts with an apple, with Food Day, with you.
Scrambled Eggs with Sweet Potato Hash
Food Day worked with CSPI's culinary director Kate Sherwood for recipes to get kids cooking. Swap tofu for egg and it's vegan. Either way, it's simple enough for a child -- or you -- to make. It's not a McAnything. It's totally real food.
1 small sweet potato (about 1/2 lb.), peeled
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (any or all colors)
1/4 cup chopped onion or scallion
1 large whole egg or 4 ounces tofu
1 tablespoon non-fat, low-fat milk or nondairy milk
1 pinch kosher salt
Sweet potatoes are hard to cut because they are so firm but a few minutes in the microwave will soften them enough so that they are easy to cut. Microwave the potato for 2 to 3 minutes to soften then run under cold water to cool.
Cut the potato into cubes. In a medium, nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the potato, peppers, and onions until potatoes are tender, 3-5 minutes.
In a bowl, whisk the eggs or tofu together with milk, and salt.
Move the sweet potato, pepper and onion onto a plate. Pour the egg or tofu into the skillet and stir constantly with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until the mixture is heated through and clumps together.
Makes 1 serving.