Gulf States Agriculture Specialist Felicia Bell stepped out of the field and into the kitchen on August 12 to teach a class on healthy cooking. Her students were farmers from the Mileston Cooperative as well as local families, who joined Felicia to learn some cooking techniques to prepare fresh, simple, healthy meals. This event, arranged by Calvin Head, director of the Cooperative, was a direct result of the partnerships formed by the Mississippi Food Justice Collaborative. Calvin was inspired by a cooking class that was held at a Food Justice Collaborative Meeting in July, conducted by Choctaw Fresh Produce, and he wanted to host his own class for Mileston farmers and the community. This kind of idea-sharing and support between partners was one of the goals of the Food Justice Collaborative, and it is wonderful to see it in action!
Felicia showed the attendees the basics of how to prepare the different ingredients, and then let them do the cooking. They made a chicken breast and vegetable stir-fry, brown rice, sautéed kale, spicy cucumber salad, and fruit salad. Everything was made from fresh ingredients, seasoned with herbs and using vegetables that the cooperative farmers grew themselves. Felicia talked about the health benefits of cooking with fresh, unprocessed ingredients, and showed the group how it can be an affordable way to prepare meals in addition to being delicious and healthy.
This event was especially beneficial for the farmers who attended, many of whom had never eaten the vegetables they grow for the cooperative. The class also included children of all ages, so it was truly a community event. Felicia enjoyed cooking with these families and farmers, and the participants gave positive feedback, already asking for more trainings! Until more classes can be arranged, Felicia recommends this website as a source for good, healthy recipes, from one of NCAT’s partners, Tulane University, which has a Teaching Kitchen as part of their medical school.