Ed Bruske

A reporter for the Washington Post in a previous life, I now tend my "urban farm" about a mile from the White House in the District of Columbia and teach kids something I call "food appreciation." I believe in self-reliance, growing food close to home and political freedom for the residents of the District of Columbia. I am currently working to introduce local produce into the D.C. school system. I write a daily food blog called The Slow Cook.

Toque of the town

Two Berkeley chefs make healthy food that kids will eat

Part 3 of Cafeteria Confidential: Berkeley, in which Ed Bruske reports on his recent week-long, firsthand look at how Berkeley, Calif., schools part ways from the typical school diet of frozen, industrially processed convenience foods. Cross-posted from The Slow Cook. And check out the rest of the Cafeteria Confidential series. Berkeley Public Schools Executive Chef Bonnie Christensen(Ed Bruske photos)Executive chef Bonnie Christensen was at her desk, holding forth on her troubles with labor unions, when her second-in-command, sous chef Joan Gallagher, walked into the kitchen office cradling a bunch of asparagus freshly picked and just arrived in a 350-pound delivery …

Fed up to here

Berkeley school food revolution’s secret ingredient: parents

Part 2 of Cafeteria Confidential: Berkeley, in which Ed Bruske reports on his recent week-long, firsthand look at how Berkeley, Calif., schools part ways from the typical school diet of frozen, industrially processed convenience foods. Cross-posted from The Slow Cook. And check out the rest of the Cafeteria Confidential series. Eric Weaver’s son is a freshman in college now. Back when he was in kindergarten, Weaver volunteered at his school, where he couldn’t help noticing that the kids were sneaking into the teachers’ snacks. Not only were kids hungry because they hadn’t eaten breakfast, Weaver discovered, but what the schools were …

Cafeteria Confidential

No more nuggets: Berkeley schools serve Epic Chicken

In this second, multi-post set of his Cafeteria Confidential series, Ed Bruske reports on his recent week-long, firsthand look at how Berkeley, Calif., schools part ways from the typical school diet of frozen, industrially processed convenience foods. Cross-posted from The Slow Cook. And check out the rest of the Cafeteria Confidential series. My instructions, simple enough, were spelled out in permanent black marker on the cover of a brown pizza delivery box: Lay six chicken breasts down on one side of a parchment-covered baking sheet pan, lay four across, then fill all the spaces in between. The precise pattern, altered …

Sweet and low

The sweetener lobby: still a powerhouse in the school lunch debate

For the sweetener industry, shovelling empty calories to your kids has been very, very good business. They’d prefer not to stop. “Healthy Schools” legislation written by D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh comes up for its first committee vote today after months of deliberations and with one very conspicuous missing element: no regulation of sugar in school meals.  Removing the astonishing amount of sugar served to D.C. school children every day is probably the quickest and cheapest way to make school meals healthier. But you won’t see any of that in the “Healthy Schools” legislation. How can that be, you might ask, when kids are …

Lunch-whistle blower

A teacher openly crusades for better school food–and gets seared

Colorado teacher Mendy Heaps: dangerous lunchroom radical–or fruit-cart-pushing concerned citizen? Mendy Heaps, a stellar English teacher for years, had never given much thought to the food her seventh-graders were eating. Then her husband, after years of eating junk food, was diagnosed with cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure and suddenly the french fries, pizza, and ice cream being served in the cafeteria at rural Elizabeth Middle School outside Denver, Col., took on a whole new meaning. Heaps was roused to action. She started teaching nutrition in her language-arts classes. She bombarded colleagues, administrators, and the local school board with emails and news clippings urging them to overhaul the …

Lunch lessons

What a D.C. private school can teach us about public-school lunches

Meal time at the Washington Jesuit Academy. Photo: Ed Brukse This is the third of three articles detailing how food made from scratch using local ingredients is served to students at the Washington Jesuit Academy in Northeast Washington, D.C. The first is here; the second here:  Prior to hiring Fresh Start Catering a year ago to make meals from scratch, food at the Washington Jesuit Academy was very much like the stuff served at the public elementary school my daughter attends: re-heated convenience food. Administrators at the private, tuition-free middle school for “at risk” boys knew they needed to make a change. Too often …

Lunch lessons

With a bit more cash and lots of ingenuity, school lunches could be much better

Chef Allison Sosna: doing it right for the kids. This is the second of three articles detailing how food made from scratch using local ingredients is served to students at the Washington Jesuit Academy in Northeast Washington, D.C. The first is here. Allison Sosna is a young chef who fell in love with local produce. She remembers where: it was in a Washington, D.C. restaurant called “Hook,” working with celebrated sustainable seafood chef Barton Seaver. “We would get amazing produce every day from farmers in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania,” Sosna recalls. “They would just walk through the back door into the kitchen and …

Fresh starts

In a D.C. school, the simple power of a good breakfast

This is the first of three articles on how food made from scratch using local ingredients is served to the students and staff at Washington Jesuit Academy, a free-tuition private school for at-risk kids. Duane Drake, head chef at Washington Jesuit Academy. Chef Duane Drake lines a dozen pie shells on sheet pans and begins filling them for breakfast quiche. First, he scatters freshly torn spinach leaves at the bottom of the shells. Then he begins cutting blocks of Muenster cheese into cubes. He works quickly. “This morning, I’m speedballing,” he explains. Two of his assistants have been out sick. He’s behind …

(Don't) eat your spinach

Sorry, we can’t cook: D.C. schools say ‘no’ to more veggies

Cheer up, kid — the chicken nuggets and tater tots are sticking around. In a move that could signal a serious fault line in the argument for more vegetables as a tonic for childhood obesity, drafters of “Healthy Schools” legislation pending before the D.C. Council have scuttled a push for additional produce in school meals after school officials said they cannot guarantee their kitchens can prepare vegetables that kids will actually eat and not throw in the trash. “More vegetables” has become a mantra of advocates for healthier school food, including First Lady Michelle Obama, whose White House vegetable garden created a …

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