Reading, Writing, Arithmetic and Lunch
PHOTO: Agri-Cultura Network (L-R) Fidel Gonzalez, Patrick Staib-Flores, Sayrah Namaste, Joseph Alfaro, Jeff Warren, Angelina Lopez. Photo credit: Sayrah Namaste.
August 27, 2012
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Albuquerque Public School (APS) students are experiencing new tastes and flavors and learning a new way of eating, thanks in part to the Agri-Cultura Network. ACN is a group of New Mexico farmers providing food for students in APS schools.
Isabel Hunkins at Taft Middle School says it's taking a little time for students to get used to organic food, because it doesn't look as blemish-free as food treated with pesticides. But she adds that they're getting used to it and the food tastes better.
"They've learned to come and tell me, 'Isabel, can I have another one,' and we explain why it's like that, and they accept it very well."
Don Bustos, a Santa Rosa farmer and New Mexico area program director for the American Friends Service Committee(AFSC), says another benefit of this program is it helps farmers keep their land.
"The program allows farmers to make a living 12 months a year. It used to be, 'Oh, they can't supply anything to the schools 'cause farmers can't grow in the winter.'"
Bustos adds the program is designed so farmers can work throughout the year using sustainable, traditional practices that rely on solar energy.
Carol Ann Brannon is a licensed dietician at Kid's Creek Speech, Occupational and Physical Therapy for Children in Suwanee, Ga. She says her experience tells her organic food is important for children.
"I've seen in my practice where if a family switches from traditionally grown produce to organics, often there is an associated improvement in behavior and attention."
Bustos says the ACN is replicating the year-round model and expanding the program from Anthony and Chaparral on the New Mexico/Texas/Mexico border, all the way to Española in northern New Mexico. He views the program as a form of economic justice.
"That is economic justice: to hold onto our land and water, pay the bills and create jobs in sustainable agriculture."
Brannon's article, "Do Organics Promote Children's Health? - Research Shows Pesticides May Cause Neurological Disorders" (Today's Dietitian, December 2011) is available at www.todaysdietitian.com.