Pre-season preparations and food for thought

As the summer vacation days begin to dwindle, and ‘Back to School’ signs start to emerge, we all know that this year’s Food Factor Challenge season is fast approaching (Release date: September 2nd)
Recently, I’ve had several FLL coaches ask me for advice on what to do with their teams during the summer to prepare for this year’s project. FIRST has certainly given us plenty of clues about the topic, including that it “will explore the topic of food safety and examine the possible points of contamination our food encounters – from exposure to insects and creatures, to unsterile processing and transportation, to unsanitary preparation and storage…”.

So, what would I do to prepare? That’s easy. I already spend a large part of my summer doing something that is an excellent pre-season preparation: picking, preparing and storing lots of local fruits and vegetables.

From canning and dehydrating apricots & peaches, to picking blackberries & strawberries and making jam (if the deer leave me a few to pick!)…  I’ve spent much of the past couple months processing and packaging a vast array of local bounty. Where did I learn to do this? Mostly from my mother, who learned from hers… but also from observing others and teaching myself through trial and error.

I realize that not everyone has the ability to process their own food… and perhaps giving your team members this experience isn’t something possible. But, if you do have the ability and know-how, or can find someone who does, what better way to prepare your team for this year’s challenge than to have them experience – from start to finish- food preparation from field to cupboard.

If you can… can some apricots and other stuff…. and get ready for Food Factor!

– Heidi Buck