The cover of “The Delicious Nutritious FoodBook.” Photography by Ellen Watson.
By Mara Certic
The days of mystery meat at school lunch seem mercifully to be coming to an end. Since First Lady Michelle Obama began updating the White House vegetable garden in 2008 and started the “get moving” campaign, school lunches have steadily been improving and there seems to be a new focus on nutrition and health all around the country.
This is not necessarily a new trend; schools such as Ross have had the means to provide healthy, balanced meals for their students for years. Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz taught Landscape Design at the Ross School before moving to the Bridgehampton School District. Upon changing jobs, she noticed a disparity in the quality of food at the two schools.
“I thought that was fundamentally unfair,” she said, “Food should be a right, not a privilege.” Through her position as a nutrition and culinary arts teacher, she worked with various edible school garden groups on the East End in an effort to teach children about healthy food.
When she was teaching nutrition and culinary arts at Bridgehampton, she said she noticed that even after her hard work, students were going home and eating unhealthy dinners. She decided that she wanted to “remove all obstacles of good eating,” and create an accessible way to educate parents and children alike about what, how and why they should be eating.
Now, after two years of planning, compiling and raising money through a Kickstarter campaign, the “Delicious Nutritious FoodBook” is available for everyone.
“It demystifies nutrition and cooking,” Ms. Carmack-Fayyaz said of the 96-page color book that resembles the Edible East End magazine. “We kept saying we really want something that looks great,” she said.
Ms. Carmack-Fayyaz and her team sought out healthy recipes from parents, students and teachers in the Edible School Garden network as well as from chefs at some of the best restaurants on the East End. Elementary, middle and high school students have their recipes printed right alongside those from Sen, Nick & Toni’s and many others.
The “Delicious Nutritious FoodBook” is much more than a cookbook though, she said. “What we wanted to do was talk about what is food rather than tell you how to make stir-fried chicken,” Ms. Carmack-Fayyaz said. With production manager Annie Bliss and art director Kathleen Bifulco (and other contributors) she put together a sort of how-to guide to buying food, growing food and cooking and enjoying it.
The book begins with an introduction to “what food is” as well as a handy list of the things that should always be stocked in a pantry. Another section on “how to source food” provides information on the differences between growing food (as well as helpful gardening tips), eating local foods and buying produce in supermarkets. In the section of breakfast, the book talks about the importance of the first meal of the day, including research from the American Dietetic Association that mentions many benefits of eating a hearty meal in the morning. Sections on greens, beans, meat, fish and grains follow, with recipes and helpful tips guiding the reader along the way.
The recipes are not always strict, but are more there to provide certain guidelines, “Part of what we’re trying to tell people is that you don’t always have to know what a quarter cup is,” said Ms. Carmack-Fayyaz.
A whole slew of recipes from “101 Salads” by food journalist, author and New York Times columnist Mark Bittman are included in the book under the “Eat the Rainbow” section, which discusses the phytonutrients and the reasons why one should eat different colored foods. Mr. Bittman’s recipes are short, unintimidating and do not require any measuring: “Cut cherry or grape tomatoes in half; toss with soy sauce, a bit of dark sesame oil and basil or cilantro.”
There is a two-pronged approach to selling and distributing the “Delicious Nutritious FoodBook,” Ms. Carmack-Fayyaz said. When school starts in the fall, the book will be available for purchase at back-to-school nights and similar events for the nominal fee of $1, which the school will be able to keep for its own purposes.
Funding the book through a Kickstarter campaign means that there are no residual costs to cover. But Ms. Carmack-Fayyaz has decided to expand the project and so, starting this weekend, the book will be available to all at farmers markets on the North and South Forks with a donation of $10 to Edible School Gardens, Ltd. “We want to use these funds to print more copies and maybe we could do a Spanish language version of it,” she said.
“What I would also love to do is get this to Southampton Hospital,” she said. All of the proceeds from those sales will go toward expansion of the project.
The book will be available for purchase at the following farmers markets: Montauk, East Hampton, Shelter Island, Hampton Bays, Hayground School, Flanders, Mattituck and Greenport. It will also be available at the Balsam Farms farm stand in Amagansett, Serene Green in Sag Harbor and at the North Fork Table & Inn farmers market in Southold.