Food Day

If it's about food--real food--I'm generally all over it. So it should come as no surprise that when we (as the Quarry Farmers & Ranchers Market) were contacted weeks ago about participating in a local school's celebration of Food Day, I gladly accepted! I cajoled a few young and ambitious vendors to accompany David and me to the San Antonio School of Inquiry and Creativity's (SASIC) Food Day celebration. This was the only school in the city that dedicated a day to this national event and and it was quite an impressive line-up!

From left: Travis Krause of Green Hills Poultry; F. David Lent,
my husband and co-founder of the market; Anne Ng, Bakery Lorraine; and me.

SASIC is a progressive, inner city charter school is for students K-12. Not surprisingly, many of the students are not enthralled with or motivated by the traditional school format and need a different educational setting in order to be inspired to learn. This school accomplishes that in many ways. They boast a high-tech music department that includes a decked out recording studio, a film department led by a well-known film maker and now they have the same animation software that Pixar uses.

The entire day was dedicated to Food Day and their line-up of speakers and events was impressive. With the help of Slow Food South Texas and The Dinner Garden, the school launched a community garden. The San Antonio Food Bank came and talked about healthy eating tips, Vegeria Vegan restaurant cooked up some vegan foods for everyone to try and Whole Foods Market came to talk about some of their food initiatives. St. Philips College inspired the students to consider food related careers and Sunny Day Farm spoke about confinement issues with free range hens, chickens and farm animals. They also had a compost expert demonstrate the beauty, as well as techniques of composting. 

This national day of awareness is just part of the growing state of concern regarding our food supply system with the hope of expanding access to safe and healthy foods, supporting sustainable farms, eliminating hunger, protecting the environment and animals, curbing junk-food marketing to kids and supporting fair working conditions for food and farm workers.

The purpose of the school's event was to get the kids to start thinking about food in a different way. Real food. Not junk food or fast food, but real food. Fruits, vegetables and humanely raised animals. And I think we accomplished that. The 200 students who attended our speaker's panel had great questions and were attentive. We had lots of people come up to us after it was over and share their stories, ask more questions and inquire about the farmers market.

In honor of Food Day, I came home and made a spinach salad using fresh spinach from the market and added plenty of textural and tasty toppings to make it a meal. Tangerine segments, pear slices, thinly sliced red onions, crispy bacon crumbles, toasted walnuts and a chunk of blue cheese.

Considering every day is Food Day in our world, we were honored to have been a part of this grand celebration.

How did you recognize Food Day and how can you continue to incorporate these principles in your daily life?

Buen provecho!

Spinach Salad
The Cowgirl Gourmet

Print recipe

Spinach salad is a wonderful canvas for adding a wide variety of ingredients. Crispy bacon crumbles, fruit, toasted nuts, dried cranberries, cheese. It's up to you. Get creative and put your signature on it, depending on what you have available.

Serve 2

5 cups fresh spinach, washed, dried and stemmed if needed
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 ripe pear, cored and thinly sliced
2 tangerines, peeled and segmented
1 oz. blue cheese crumbles
3 slices bacon, chopped into pieces, cooked and well drained
1/4 cup toasted nuts such as walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place spinach in a big bowl and add red onion.

Lightly salt the spinach leaves and red onion and toss to coat. Set in refrigerator to chill.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon pieces in a skillet of medium high heat. When cooked, drain on paper towels and set aside.

In a small skillet, toast nuts over medium heat until fragrant, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally and set aside.

Cut pear into thin slices and peel tangerine and separate into segments, removing any pithy strings.

In a small bowl, add the Dijon mustard, balsamic and a pinch of salt, stirring to combine well. Whisk in the olive oil and taste for proper balance of acid and oil, adding more balsamic vinegar or oil to your taste.

Dress the spinach and red onions with 2/3 of the dressing and toss well to coat.

To plate, put dressed spinach and red onions on the plate, top with sliced pear and tangerine segments, sprinkle with toasted nuts, crispy bacon and top with cheese crumbles or a chunk of cheese. Drizzle with remaining dressing and freshly ground black pepper.

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