Taste test preparations started two weeks before the taste test day, when fresh, Georgia-grown turnip greens were ordered from Bakers Farm in Norman Park. On the day of the taste test, Ms. Tammy Barnes, cafeteria manager at LGES, and her staff started in the kitchen early, washing greens and prepping the ingredients. A simple sauté of turnip greens, onions, garlic powder, and olive oil, all tossed in lemon juice, was the fare of the day. Ms. Betty Tyler and the rest of the cafeteria staff sampled the sauté (those third and fourth servings are necessary to ensure proper quality control, of course…)
Northeast Georgia Farm to School volunteers arrived at 10:00am, to begin decorating the taste test table and prepping sample cups. Students began rolling into the cafeteria a bit later. Some were hesitant, some were eager, and all had been encouraged by LGES faculty and staff to be adventurous eaters. Students voted to voice their opinions about the recipe and receive a hand stamp to declare their bravery to the world.
Around 1:30pm, lunchtime wrapped up, and the volunteers packed away tablecloths, wiped down floors, and snuck copious tastes of the leftovers. The votes showed: 49% of 463 tasters “Love it!”, and an additional 25% “Like it.”
Turnip greens earned a 75% approval rating (politicians, take note), a victory no matter how you look at it.
But my favorite part of the taste test was that multiple students asked me, with mouths full and eyes wide with curiosity, “Can we grow turnip greens in our school garden?”
This brings the food system full circle for students—from eating to planting.