Highlighting Farmers during Tasting Tables

Author: Rachel Suits, Small Farms Program, Oregon State University

Publish Date: Spring 2015

Tasting Tables in schools provide a great way for students to try new fruits, vegetables, and other foods. Students also get to learn how these foods are grown.

In February, the highlighted food of the month for Tasting Tables in Hood River and Wasco Counties was cabbage. Instead of simply serving raw, chopped cabbage, OSU Extension staff teamed up to make homemade sauerkraut. The cabbage was donated by a local farmer, Ronny Tannenbaum of Nature’s Finest in Parkdale, OR, in exchange for a few jars of the kraut for himself.

Students were surprisingly excited to try the sauerkraut. Many students exclaimed that the kraut “tasted like pickles,” while others discretely pursed their lips and described it as “sour!”

Some students even noted that the samples were “better than I anticipated it to be!” Many students had eaten sauerkraut in the past and encouraged their peers to try it.

Not only did students get to try a new, seasonal food, but students also had the unique opportunity of meeting the farmer who grew the cabbage. Ronny Tannenbaum was able to talk to students about the process of growing cabbage and reward students who tried the sauerkraut with a hand stamp. Through this experience, students were able to connect the dots between where and how food is grown, and how it makes its way into their cafeteria. This truly bridged that gap between farm and cafeteria. Knowing where their food came from, and putting a face to the farmer who grew it, gave February’s food taste that much more significance. This was a powerful experience for students; many had never met a farmer before and were in awe that they had the opportunity to meet “an actual farmer!” We look forward to having more food heroes like Ronny come to Tasting Tables in the future!