By Katie Muir and Rachael McClellan
This month the Wednesday Farmer’s Market at Saint Joe’s has started to offer free samples and recipes. Of all the varied people that populate the hallways of the hospital around lunchtime some may love local produce and fresh, home-cooking but inevitably some may not be so fond of or even familiar with the veggies for sale. Recipe cards and taste-testing opens up an opportunity for us, as dietitian’s and farmers, to showcase just how fresh and delicious the produce grown at the hospital is! Similarly, this sparks many engaging conversations between the hospital visitors, patients, and staff about the Farm, the produce, and most importantly (at the lunchtime market at least) fresh, healthy food and how to make it!
As dietetic interns, we love to work with the public by discussing and promoting healthy eating. Sometimes that is in the form of formal education but food samples and recipe demos is a much more engaging and fun experience for the customer. Every week from now through September, the Dietetic Interns at the Farm will head to the kitchens at the Women’s Health Center to prepare some of what is grown that week to showcase at the market on Wednesday.
After the first week we can easily say that having an opportunity to cook in the commercial kitchen at the St. Joseph Women’s Health center was a very enjoyable experience. Who doesn’t envy the hosts of television shows on the Food Network where all the chefs have an expansive, beautiful, and fully stocked kitchens to work in? Preparing food in the St. Joe’s commercial kitchen was our own slice of the Food Network and a chance to brush up on scaling up recipes for larger scale food production.
At the market, last week’s pico de gallo salsa and summer squash salad were a big hit when we debuted samples and their corresponding recipes at the Farmer’s Market on Wednesday in the St. Joseph main lobby! It was rewarding to see customers become turned on to new vegetables and come back for the recipes and some produce! We certainly received apprehensive looks when we asked people if they’d like a sample of the raw summer squash salad; however, the apprehension was transformed into joy when they experienced the bright, flavorful, and garlicky dish. It was also hard for a few of the guests to believe that something so tasty could pack such a nutritional punch! The recipe sheets disappeared so quickly that we had to print a second batch within 45 minutes! The first round of samples at the market was successful but a learning experience!
All the interns immensely enjoyed planning this new project for the Farmer’s Market as well as cooking in the commercial kitchen and interacting with people to talk about food at the Market. What’s better than feeding people delicious, healthy, locally produced food that they didn’t think they’d enjoy? Not much, in our opinion! If you’ve got the time and a way to get to the main lobby at St. Joseph Hospital on Wednesdays between 11 AM and 1 PM, you should visit the stand! Different samples will be offered each week as well as the recipe sheets so the delicious foods can be replicated within your own home kitchen!