Hi there friends!
This October, we’re keeping the vampires away AND nourishing our bodies with deliciously garlicky sweet potatoes. Garlic is always a big favorite in Farm to School, in part because the smell of garlic cooking on the stovetop is one that we associate with home, or the cooking of a favorite dish. Not only is that smell a spell that can bring us back home and stimulate our bellies for eating, it’s also the medicine of the garlic. Garlic’s smell comes from a compound called Allicin, and Allicin is a very powerful warrior. When you eat Allicin, it acts like your immune system does, protecting your body from bad bacteria (even antibiotic-resistant bacteria and fungi). When I start feeling a little sick, maybe I have a sore throat, or I’m especially tired, or I have a persistent headache, I make sure to eat raw garlic in response. Allicin can break down when cooked, so eating it raw is how to get the most medicine from your garlic. Homemade pesto, salad dressings, and garlic hummus are great foods for getting more raw garlic in your diet. And, of course, cooked garlic is still medicine, too.
Garlic is a protector. Garlic is a warrior. No wonder the vampires stay away!
The other important food this month is Sweet Potatoes. Sweet potatoes are red-pink-gold treasures that, like garlic, grow underground. Potatoes are attached to the root of the plant. Root’s job is to suck up water and nutrients from the soil and transport them to the plant, but in the case of potatoes, those water and nutrients can also get stored in the potato! If the plant starts to get very thirsty, or the soil isn’t providing the nutrients it needs any more, the potato can let go of the vitamins and minerals that it’s held to keep the plant alive.
Potatoes have long been cared for and tended to by people who are indigenous to Peru, just as the potatoes themselves are. They grew into being together, the people cultivating and being nourished by the potatoes.
Here is Ernesto, an indigenous farmer in Peru. He talks about the dynamic awareness and connection he needs to be able to cultivate his food with respect:
Our food always has a story. There’s the long story… what land the plant was birthed from, who cultivated them, what they were used for, how they moved across the world, and why. Then there is the short story, this is the one we’re familiar with in Farm to School… It all starts with the seed, the growth process, the harvest by the farmers, the washing, packaging, and delivery. Next time you have a plate of yummy food before you, try cultivating gratitude through the story of the food! “Thank you seed, soil, water, worms! Thank you indigenous kin to this food! Thank you farmer who tended, harvested, and brought this food to me!”