The Daily Dirt

FoodCorps Friday: “I Think I Love It!” A Taste Test Day at Level Grove Elementary

by Susie Burton

Taste test preparations started two weeks ago, when fresh, Georgia-grown turnip greens were ordered from Bakers Farm in Norman Park.  This morning, the day of the taste test, Ms. Tammy Barnes, cafeteria manager at LGES, and her staff start in the kitchen early, washing greens and prepping the ingredients.   A simple sauté of turnip greens, onions, garlic powder, and olive oil, all tossed in lemon juice, is the fare of the day.  Ms. Betty Tyler and the rest of the cafeteria staff sample the sauté (those third and fourth servings are necessary to ensure proper quality control, of course…)

video tammy sauteeing


ms betty testing first batch

Northeast Georgia Farm to School volunteers arrive at 10:00am, to begin decorating the taste test table and prepping sample cups.  Students begin rolling into the cafeteria a bit later.  Some are hesitant, some are eager, all have been encouraged by LGES faculty and staff to be adventurous eaters.  Students vote to voice their opinions about the recipe and receive a hand stamp to declare their bravery to the world.  Ms. Helen O’Brien, LGES media specialist, and her colleagues join in on the tasting.

helen getting stamp

Around 1:30pm, lunchtime wraps up, and the volunteers pack away tablecloths, wipe down floors, and sneak copious tastes of the leftovers.   The votes are in: 49% of 463 tasters “Love it!”, and an additional 25% “Like it.”

Turnip greens earn a 75% approval rating (politicians, take note), a victory no matter how you look at it.

toby loves turnip greens

But my favorite part of today’s taste test was that multiple students asked me, with mouths full and eyes wide with curiosity, “Can we grow turnip greens in our school garden?”

Bringing the food system full circle for students—from eating to planting.

That makes my little farm to school heart happy.



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