It’s Food Day today and if you don’t know what that is, it’s worth knowing about. It may sound strange to have a day simply called “Food” day. Sounds primitive in a way, no different that if we were to have a “Clothing”, “Drink” or “Lodging” Day. But I couldn’t be more thrilled to celebrate a day devoted to understanding food, where it comes from, who it feeds, how it nourishes our bodies and considering how vital healthy food is to our existence. Believe it or not, many of the young people in this world don’t know where a tomato or cucumber comes from and if asked may even say a grocery store.
While it may seem like every day is Food Day in my house, I will wake my children up with bells and whistles proclaiming National Food Day. I will then ask them how and with what kinds of food (healthy of course) they’d like eat while honoring this special day. And then, after school, I will involve my kids in the prepping, cooking and eating of a meal. Since its Wednesday (one of the few at home days of the week for all of us), we can all sit down together to enjoy our meal. For it’s the process and enjoyment of making the food together, the conversations, messes and laughter that will enrich our food. To me, Food Day needs to encompass the relationships we have with various people — our farmers, grocery store butchers, friends, kids — as we learn, teach and create together.
In my youngest son’s elementary school, we’ll be feeding nearly 500 kids tastes of the homemade pesto made using our school’s garden fresh basil and garlic. The students will wear green today to show their pesto spirit and get their “I heart Pesto” sticker as a reward for trying something new. And in reflection, it was a rewarding day making the pesto together, as Sabina, Sarah and I tore basil leaves away from their stems, sautéing the garlic in olive oil and blending the fresh ingredients. While our hands worked, mouths chatted, and appliances motored away, we thought about the pleasures we’d soon offer to the children. We eagerly spoke about healthy eating, the programs we hope to implement and the impending Food Day event.
We’ve also received enough apples from the United Way to give to each child an apple to take home with them. We’ll be recognizing and honoring our lunch ladies with posters and even a flower corsage. Some parents will move about the lunch room, talking to kids about healthy snacking, while others will survey the kids, asking if they’ve eaten something healthy today. Food Day is all about raising awareness of good eating and shopping habits with our young, as well as their parents. It’s just a day, but like many other important days of the year, we’re stopping, reflecting and making a difference in someone else’s life.
And like Valentine’s Day, when our loved ones receive a token of love despite being loved all year long, Food Day, which gives a taste of something homegrown and homemade, will hopefully linger all year as well. It’s the acknowledgement that sometimes makes something real and for this I am grateful to the folk’s over at Food Day for validating the importance of healthy eating.
Since we’ll be eating pesto today, maybe you’d like to join in our fun as well with my classic Basil Pesto recipe:
With only 6 main ingredients, this pesto is simple to make and freezes beautifully for future meals.
4 oz. fresh basil, washed thoroughly, stems discarded
1 cup flat leaf parsley, washed thoroughly, stems discarded
3/4 cup toasted pine nuts
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 tbs. olive oil for sautéing
6-9 large garlic cloves (depending on the size and how garlicky you prefer)
2/3 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
2 ounces of water for blending
Toast pine nuts until golden (approximately 6 minutes in toaster oven on 375) shaking pan occasionally – pick out any nuts that have turned a darker shade of brown. Wash basil and parsley thoroughly, chop & set aside. Peel garlic cloves, chop in thirds & sauté in 2tbs. olive oil for approximately 2 minutes – remove from pan quickly before browning.
In a blender, gradually add basil, parsley, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, cheese & kosher salt. Add water one ounce at a time to help blend the ingredients. Pesto is finished when the consistency is smooth & creamy and the color turns to a lighter green. Transfer to ice cube trays and freeze.
To serve, defrost 2-3 cubes of pesto, combine with a bit of reserved pasta cooking liquid, and have a delicious meal ten minutes or less.
How are you celebrating Food Day?
There’s a terrific website devoted to Food Day, “a nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food.”