A live, Iron Chef-style cook-off between students in their mecca of munching, Williams Dining Hall, is featured as the closing event of a week set aside each March to celebrate agricultural accomplishments in North Carolina. The cooking competition is also a fun way to involve students in Small Farms Week, N.C. A&T’s annual celebration of small-scale agriculture, held this year March 19-25. The cooking competition is from 4-6 p.m. March 23.
“Even though agriculture is a foundation of our university, many of our students are not aware of, nor participate in, the variety of programs and resources in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences,” says Dr. Michelle Eley, community and economic development specialist for The Cooperative Extension Program. “For Small Farms Week, we wanted to do some things to engage students and make them aware of our depth and breadth.”
This year’s observance focuses on the ways North Carolina’s $84 billion agricultural industry can be made safer and more sustainable. Sponsored by The Cooperative Extension Program at A&T, the week will feature workshops, guest speakers and demonstrations. It will also highlight the fact that locally grown, sustainably managed foods are the best and healthiest choices.
“One clear way to make farming a sustainable enterprise is to have another generation that understands and values its importance, including eating fresh food,” Eley says.
Three teams of four students, each equipped with blender, microwave, griddle and a cornucopia of fresh, local foods from which to choose, will take up a prominent place in the dining room to make one entrée and one dessert.
The contest will be timed and judged by a panel of faculty and students based on originality, taste, presentation and something else: the use of a secret ingredient, to be revealed only at the start of the competition. The evening event is timed to capture students’ attention when they are at their hungriest and slide a little education about healthy eating across their tables.
Planners are hoping the students will come to the cooking competition for the fun, but leave having heard the message that fresh, local, sustainable farm products are easy to incorporate into a lifestyle. Even a collegiate one.
Just a few days are left to register for Small Farms Week activities: http://www.ncat.edu/caes/cooperative-extension/sfw-2017-form.html or for more informatio, nvisit: http://www.ncat.edu/news/2017/02/small-farms-week-17.html