In June 2014, our Master Food Volunteers had the opportunity to attend the Master Gardener College held at Virginia Tech. We collaborated with Dave Close, the State Coordinator for the Master Gardeners, John Freeborn, Assistant Coordinator for the Master Gardeners, our Extension faculty, graduate students, and VT Dining Services staff to offer some workshops specific to food preparation and safety. Following are some pictures and highlights of our time together. We had a great time and are very appreciative of the hospitality from our Master Gardener colleagues. Thank you!
Eric Bowen, our Area Specialized Food Safety Agent in the Central District presented on produce safety from the garden to the table. He also focused on some basic methods of food preservation and safety.
Joell Eifert, our Area Specialized Food Safety Agent in the Southwest District presented an introduction to home vegetable fermentation. Joell also emphasized how to follow scientifically-tested methods to ensure a safe product.
Alisha Farris, a Registered Dietician and graduate research assistant in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise provided a workshop on reducing sodium, sugar, and alternative sources of protein. We also reviewed food labels of some of our favorite food products:
Chef Randy, Chef Mark, and Jordan from Virginia Tech’s Dining Services shared some “keep it simple solutions” through using specific cooking techniques to enhance the flavors of our food without having to add extra ingredients, such as salt or sugar. We even participated in some really fun taste-testings:
Chef Heather Petty, graduate research assistant in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise, demonstrated ways we can “play with our food” to encourage more consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. Heather discussed how to use the natural shapes of our fruits and vegetables to make fun “faces.” Also included in this picture are some additional ideas for “edible art” for July 4, such as a watermelon basket and our United States flag using a variety of fresh fruits:
Heather demonstrates how to carve the watermelon basket using safe knife skills:
Dr. Molly Kelly, Enology Extension Specialist in our VT Department of Food Science, demonstrated some of the basics of enjoying winemaking at home as a hobby. It was interesting to learn about some of the different varieties of fruit that can be used to produce these wines:
We had a wonderful time this year and look forward to more opportunities for continuing education in the coming year.
A special thanks to our instructors for their hard work and to the Master Gardeners and faculty for working with us on these workshops!
Following is a picture of our Master Food Volunteers and Family and Consumer Sciences Agents participating in one of our sessions:Happy summer!
Melissa Chase, State Coordinator, Master Food Volunteer Program