The Flying Carrot: Food literacy in a bus

Dec. 2, 2013

Eleanor Skelton
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If the Flying Carrot sounds like a superhero, then its mission is to educate Colorado Springs about food.

The Flying Carrot is a collaboration between UCCS and the Pikes Peak Community Foundation. It was founded by Nanna Meyer, a UCCS sports nutrition professor, in April 2012. The bus bearing its carrot logo travels to schools and sustainability events to promote food literacy off campus.

Three sports nutrition graduate students hosted an apple-eating contest and gave out samples of winter ravioli at the first Winter Market held indoors at the Ivywild School on Nov. 23.

Ivywild, located at 1604 S. Cascade Ave., was originally built in 1916 but closed in 2009. It was reopened earlier this year as a community marketplace with a brewery, restaurants and a children’s art school. It also hosts local farmer’s markets but typically outside in the summer months.

“We are really trying to educate community about seasonality of the food, what’s growing in this community and trying to use those produce and make it into healthy meals,” said Nuwanee Kirihennedige, a sports nutrition graduate student.

Sean Svette, another graduate student, explained the winter ravioli recipe: “Today we’re making raviolis with Colorado flour, and we’re doing stuffing with eight apples from Mesa Winds, which is Colorado grown, so we’re trying to do as much as we can here. We’re highlighting local food and just trying to have fun.”

The produce and other ingredients for the demonstrations came mostly from the Arkansas Valley Organic Growers (AVOG) share, which is a local community-supported agriculture garden.

“Instead of just teaching vitamins and minerals and things like that in the food, we take an approach from bottom up. So we teach food,” Kirihennedige explained. “So how to incorporate it into their diet, and we want to support as much [of] our community as possible.”

Past demonstrations at the Summer Market have included a blender bicycle, which allows participants to pedal their way to their berry-beet recovery smoothie.

Kirihennedige continued, “I think it’s important for UCCS students to know there [is] a market available for them because, you know, if they want to get something locally grown, very nutritionally high profile … and picked at the peak. There’s not many UCCS students that know about the farmer’s market.”

“We’re kind of doing a lot of cultural sharing as well,” Kirihennedige said.

Kirihennedige comes from a Japanese cultural background. The other two graduate students, Alba Reguant-Closa and Svette, are from Andorra and the United States, respectively.

“Even if our veggies garden and all the farms in Colorado stop a little bit in winter … we [are] still having some things, for example, honey we have all year, or jam, so it’s nice to have the Winter Market,” said Reguant-Closa.

“I’ve worked over at a demonstration garden right down the road from here, and a lot of the produce we’ve used week to week has come from Pikes Peak Urban Gardens,” Svette said.

“We’re really facing an era with climate change. No water, no farms, no food, it’s pretty serious. So people need to kind of wake up. Not that I’m opinionated,” said Judith Rice-Jones, retired Kramer Family Library staff and master gardener for Students for Environmental Awareness and Sustainability who teaches an upper-division Geography of Food class.