Why Youth Voices Matter The Farm Bill – Part 2

Here are some big reasons why students may want to become involved in the farm bill process:

Food for hungry children

#1. They believe that no child, regardless of their socio-economic status should go hungry. 

The farm bill provides food to eligible low income individuals and families through a program known as SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). SNAP replaced the old food stamp program.

Here’s how it benefits kids:

  • The highest percentage of SNAP recipients are children.
  • SNAP significantly decreases the amount of kids that go hungry. Children with full bellies generally can concentrate better at school, get better grades and have a better sense of well-being.
  • These benefits generally increase consumption of healthier foods to help reduce the risk of present or future chronic diseases; such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

Local farmers market

#2. They support local foods

Local foods allow youth to know exactly how their food is grown and where it comes from – in other words food transparency.

  • They can visit farms and speak directly to the farmer.
  • The farm bill helps local farmers reach more consumers.
  • Local foods tend to be grown more sustainably and without harmful pesticides.
  • Local foods sold at local farmers markets bring the community together in a meaningful way.

Nutrition Education

#3. They recognize that more people will select nutritious foods if they understand the benefits of choosing them.

  • Recipients are currently receiving nutrition education on the benefits of foods that they are getting through the SNAP program.
  • They receive support on how to cook these foods at home.
  • They may teach recipients how to shop.
  • Nutrition education on healthy foods encourages consumption, which in turn helps reduce the risk of disease.

Fruits and veggies

#4. They believe that fresh fruits and vegetables should be subsidized first over other foods

  • Fruits and vegetables in the farm bill are considered a “specialty” crop (whatever that means??) and are not subsidized. This is why they may not be affordable to low-income individuals and families.
  • However, SNAP’s double up food bucks program does allow recipients to double the value of their SNAP benefits when they purchase fresh fruits and veggies at a farmers market or grocery store.
  • Students can advocate for these “super-healthy” foods to be subsidized first over other not-so-nutritious foods or participate in the double up food bucks program.

The senate bill is proposing establishing a “food is medicine” pilot where facilitators prescribe fresh fruits and vegetables to individuals and families.

Young Farmer

#5. They believe that it should support beginning farmers

  • It’s becoming challenging for young people to become farmers.
  • The startup fees are enormous; equipment alone can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  • Land is hard to come by and is often sold to large farming operations.
  • It’s challenging to make a living farming and so many opt out of this as a career.

So what if like me, these food politics make student’s heads spin! They can choose a more grassroots approach to changing our national food system. They may choose to “vote with their fork” and purchase more foods from local farmers, or volunteer at a local hunger organization. They may help raise funds for young farmers to get started, or become involved in local legislation to help them purchase land. They may teach cooking or nutrition classes centered on fresh fruits and vegetables. Really, the skies the limit!

Why Youth Voices Matter The Farm Bill – Part 1

The farm bill is probably the most significant piece of legislation in our country related to farming and the foods that are served on our dinner tables.  It is reauthorized every 5 years and this is the year – 2018.

The farm bill originated in 1933 as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s (FDR) new deal. It was the direct result of the great depression and also the dust bowl (severe drought on prairie lands in the U.S.) that was happening at the time.

Its original purpose was to balance fair food prices for consumers with a decent wage for farmers. It helped ensure that there was an adequate amount of high-quality, nutritious food for all to eat and to protect our natural resources (air, water and soil).

The farm bill also determines crops to be subsidized (pay part of the cost of producing in order to reduce prices for consumers), which ultimately determines the majority of crops farmers will grow.

Currently, the biggest chunk of it provides food access to low-income individuals and families who cannot afford it (80% of it).

The next farm bill is expected to be finalized in September of 2018 and boy there is a lot of disagreement between the house and senate on what should be included!

The farm bill is a great way for students to begin to recognize that they have a voice in the legislative process and can start to have an impact on the future of food.

So why should young people care about the farm bill?  Because it is everywhere! It impacts everything from food that is offered to low income families, food that is served in their cafeteria (farm to school), food waste, organic food and nutrition research, nutrition education, fruit and vegetable availability and costs, seeds, soil and other conversation efforts.

Tune in tomorrow for some big reasons why students may want to become involved with the farm bill.

Did you know? One of the biggest influencers of subsidies was Secretary of Agriculture, Earl Butz. Back in the 1970’s he decided that soybean and corn would be heavily subsidized, resulting in A LOT of farmers growing these crops in order to survive. Hence the reason we have corn as fuel, animal feed and high fructose corn syrup. It’s in everything!!!


Gen Z – The New Food Movement

Image Source: Classy – https://www.classy.org/blog/gen-z-next-generation-donors/

There has been so much talk about Millennials lately that many have forgotten the next Generation right around the corner – Generation Z.

Generation Z are those born in 1995 or after (some say it’s more like 1996, depending on who you ask).  Some of them are teenagers, while others are in their early 20’s and are in or starting college. Either way, they are starting to shape their own food future.

This generation, even more so then millennials wants to make a difference in the world – especially their food world.

  • 60% want their work to make a difference in the world
  • 76% are worried about the planet
  • 75% of this generation consider themselves foodies

It’s no surprise as many of them are children of parents that were born in the 60’s or 70’s – the decades that started the food revolution. You know, the generation lost in space!

So what do we have to look forward to with this next generation of food enthusiasts?

Sustainable Food

#1. They care deeply about sustainability

  • Gen z’ers are a very environmentally and socially conscious generation
  • They want to know the story of their food from farm to table
  • Gen z’ers want an abundance of sustainable food that has a positive impact on people  and the planet

Heart shaped fruit

#2. They want health supporting foods

  • Gen z’ers love to snack but want healthy snack options
  • They prefer to snack on the go vs. sitting down for a meal
  • Gen z’ers have learned how to set healthy eating habits in school and at home
  • They know that whole, unprocessed foods are the more nutritious choice

They are also interested in boosting energy throughout the day – so energy drinks are on the rise!

Food acceptance

#3. They accept new foods easily

  • Gen z’ers are more likely to have been exposed to new and different foods early in life and are willing to try new ones
  • They have been exposed to foods from all over the world and enjoy them!
  • Gen z’ers are willing to at least try unusual flavors and ingredients

Teen purchasing

#4. They are starting to purchase their own food

  • Gen z’ers want foods that taste good, contain quality ingredients and are a good price
  • They care more about small, local foods vs. the big name brands
  • Gen z’ers buy from companies that share their values
  • They are willing to pay for foods that support the environment and support food companies with a social mission

MCHS Fresh Salsa Fiesta #2

#5. They love to cook!

  • Gen z’ers love to express themselves through the meals they make
  • They like to make their own creations and often do not follow a recipe
  • Gen z’ers may take pictures of their creation and share on social media
  • They generally learned how to cook at an early age

Cooking is very empowering to them!

So… any of you that educate students; you know teachers, parents community members, have this unique opportunity to help shape the food habits of this young, amazingly socially conscious generation.  You can have a conversation with them about sustainable foods or explain the benefits of choosing more whole, nutritious foods. You can bring this information to life by taking them on a tour of a farm or community garden, introducing them to more fresh and local food manufacturers or just helping them learn how to cook – a skill that lasts a lifetime!

Homemade Pickles – It’s a Big Dill!

I never knew how incredibly easy it is to make homemade pickles.  But now that I’ve made them, I want to do it all the time.  I love that you can put your stamp on them by adding your own special ingredients!

Pickling cucumbers to make “pickles” can be traced back as far as 2030 BC from their native roots in India.  Pickling was a necessity back then as a means to preserve food for long periods of time. This was important for sailors who could take them on long journeys and not have them spoil, but also for families needing food to survive over the lengthy, cold winters.

Homemade pickling can be done a couple of different ways.  One is to use salt brine and the other is to add vinegar. The salt brine method is used when you want to ferment the cucumbers.  Cucumbers are naturally found covered in lactobacillus (a type of friendly bacteria or probiotic). Lactobacillus helps with digestion. Fermenting them in salt brine causes this healthy bacterium to grow, while at the same time suppressing any bad bacteria that may cause spoilage or disease. Additionally, salt helps draw the moisture out of the cucumber, so it can be replaced with the salty brine and give them a lot of flavor.

Vinegar negates the fermentation process, so if you’re looking for probiotic benefits, you want to avoid using vinegar.  The benefit to making pickles with vinegar is that it allows you to make a salt-free version without losing the pungent flavor in the process.

Pickles come in wide variety of shapes, sizes and flavors. They can be cut into strips or slices and made into dill pickles, kosher dills, sour pickles, bread and butter chips (sweet pickles) or made hot and spicy.

Generally, store bought pickles are loaded with salt.  For example in one brand, 2 ½ pickle chips contain about 16% of our daily recommended amount of salt.  In another instance the serving size is 2/3rds of a pickle (who eats only 2/3rds of a pickle??? – I don’t know) and contains about 10% of our daily recommended amount of sodium or salt.

These pickles also contain artificial ingredients like polysorbate 80, Yellow 5, high fructose corn syrup, calcium chloride, sodium benzoate and natural flavors.

The homemade versions have simple ingredients and are low in calories. Plus they contain a little bit of nutrition; fiber, protein, iron (7% of your daily recommended amount), potassium and calcium. And they are high in antioxidants, most notably from all of the spices.

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Basic recipe – makes 1 pint (about 5-6 spears)


  • 3-4 sprigs fresh dill
  • 1-2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
  • 3 pearl onions (whole) or a few chunks chopped sweet onions
  • Sprinkle of black peppercorns (about 10)
  • Sprinkle organic black mustard seeds (about 10)
  • 1-2 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon salt-free pickling spice – I used a local spice shop; Savory Spices mix consisting of Saigon cinnamon, Lampong black peppercorns, brown and yellow mustard seeds, ginger, coriander, dill seeds, mace, allspice, juniper berries, cloves, chiles, cracked Turkish bay leaves.
  • 3 mini seedless cucumbers, cut into spears or slices
  • ½ plus 1/8th cup water
  • ½ plus 1/8th cup vinegar (can use distilled white vinegar, white vinegar condiment – with grape must or apple cider vinegar)
  • OR 1 ¼ cup of water mixed with ¼ teaspoon of sea salt (in place of the vinegar if you want to ferment them).

Optional add ins: celery stalks, fresh jalapenos, banana peppers or habaneros, dried chili peppers, fennel, grape leaves, cinnamon, celery seeds, nutmeg, caraway seeds, sprinkle of honey, granulated garlic or other vegetables such as carrots, peppers or asparagus.


  1. Add fresh dill sprigs to the bottom of a pint-sized mason jar.
  2. Add in garlic, onion, peppercorns, mustard seeds, bay leaves, pickling spices and any optional ingredients.
  3. Place 5-6 cucumber spears on top of spices in the jar. They should line up with the top of the jar.
  4. Pour in vinegar and then water.
  5. Cover with a Mason jar lid, tighten the lid and then shake jar to mix in all of the ingredients and spices.
  6. Place in the refrigerator and let sit for 2-3 days or 2 weeks (if you use salt brine and want it to ferment).
  7. Serve with you or your families’ favorite summertime meal.
Nutrition Facts with added salt
1 pint – Servings: 3
Amount per serving  
Calories 28
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0.1g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 44mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 4.2g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1.4g 5%
Total Sugars 1.5g  
Protein 1.3g  
Vitamin D 0mcg 0%
Calcium 36mg 3%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 68mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet.2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Recipe analyzed by VeryWell