So, full disclosure here- in case you didn’t know- I’m an

Anthropology Major

(no, not the clothing company- that’s anthro with an ie- although if you could major there, I would… in a perfect world)

And anyone who’s ever dipped their toe in the warm, hazy, blue green waters of the subject knows that Anthro is often about looking for cultural meanings behind something.

For me, this frequently means getting caught in my head thinking about the meaning behind things like wedding traditions or what’s the deal with spam (meat-ish product and email trash??), and in the case of this blog post,

Food.

Now, obviously I am a little biased, but this is a pretty complex topic with a lot going on- biologically, economically, environmentally, and definitely culturally.

Don’t worry- I’m not going to begin to tackle all those here (GEEZ you guys! It’s just a blog post!)

But I have been thinking about what one of my favorite people, Robert Egger- founder of DC Central Kitchen, refers to as

The power of food.

I mean, clearly, it’s powerful simply because we need it to even function- so take that times say 9 Billion, and anything is powerful- but what I’m thinking about is the ways people use food as a catalyst for change.

So this is the first in a mini-series all about local organizations who are doing just that- using the power of food to shake things up- and make some change- for good.

There are a lot of groups out there, and quite a few in our very own backyard.  The first one we’ll be shining a spotlight on is none other than

Brainfood.

This awesome nonprofit has been bringing kids from every Ward of DC together to learn about healthy food and cooking since 1999.

In their yearlong afterschool programs, students are put into teams to complete recipes and learn cooking techniques.  But they also learn to work together, work under a deadline, and develop the patience and stick-with-it-ness to keep cooking even when the results fall short.

You know what I’m talking about- burned cookies, crunchy rice or some overly experimental flavor combos! (but I thought Ketchup went with everything!)

Brainfood also has this MVP program for returning Brainfood grads, who get to showcase their chops (see what I did there) out in the community.  I got to sit in on a Brainfood cooking demo recently- and it was fantastic.

First, they explained what we’d be cooking, and why it was healthy- swapping whole wheat pasta instead of regular.  (GREAT idea)

Then they pulled the audience into groups to work with them on the recipe- we got a lesson in julienning and dicing- AND best part of course- got to taste our healthy pasta salad (complete with lots of veggies!) when it was complete.

But after that, they all spoke about the things they’ve learned with Brainfood- and they were beaming with pride to share.

“I used to be shy, but now I’m not!

Another said “I used to think eating healthy was gross, but now I know how good it can be!”

It was awesome to see these kids so stoked about showing off their healthy food skills- and see how food is changing their lives for the better!!

AND that’s the power of food!

I mean- not only will these kids not have to enjoy the finer delicacies of Ramen, Velveeta, and Hamburger Helper throughout their 20’s-

They’ve also learned skills that will last them a lifetime!

Oh and I almost forgot- they also have a garden where they grow a lot of their own veggies!!! What more could you want!

So if you ever get a chance to attend a cooking demo from them- DO IT! And if you want to learn more or get involved- check them out at www.brain-food.org.

And speaking of the power of food- our one-for-one food tours are back in action- giving back never tasted so good.