Cooking Matters in Detroit too

David Lingholm

| 2 min read

In Detroit, the term food desert is one that sparks a lot of controversy. On one hand, you have merchants that have been in the city for years crying foul and on the other, you have community activists noting that the quality of food is often lacking at neighborhood stores. You only need to read the comments on this Data Driven Detroit article to understand the passion the phrase stirs in the community.
Regardless of where you fall on the issue, there have been a good number of efforts to make sure Detroiters have access to fresh fruits, vegetables and quality sources of meat. Programs like Double Up Food Bucks have become popular statewide as a way for people with Bridge Cards to stretch their dollars while getting healthier produce in their homes. A mobile produce market called Peaches and Greens has received plenty of national media attention since they started taking fresh produce directly to underserved Detroit neighborhoods in the fall of 2008.
But what happens to that produce when the people who are supposed to be buying it have little experience in preparing it?
This is where Gleaners Community Food Bank comes in. They are bringing Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters cooking course to any neighborhood that wants to talk about preparing healthy and budget friendly meals.
A series of bloggers, including me, have been invited by the staff at Gleaners to follow a shortened version of their class in order to get a feel for what is being taught. The first night, we learned to make a tasty turkey gumbo that would feed a family of four a full serving of protein, whole grains and vegetables for under $10.
The course shows teens and adults what a balanced meal looks like using the updated My Plate from the US Department of Agriculture. Volunteers for Gleaners will also walk through supermarkets and farmers markets with people in the class so they know how to shop effectively for foods that are good for their waistlines and their bottom line.
In a few weeks, I’ll be taking that same market tour. I am looking forward to seeing what I can learn. Who knows, maybe they’ll teach this reformed produce clerk a thing or two about selecting great fruits and vegetables!
Video credit JHammondEnterprises

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