Sue Moores Roots for the Home Team
Sue Moores is trying to change the conversation. The food conversation, as she calls it. When she's not serving as our resident nutrition expert, she's busy making a difference in our community through her nonprofit, Roots for the Home Team, which partners with youth garden programs in ethnically diverse neighborhoods of the Twin Cities. Through Roots, kids plan, plant and harvest produce used in delicious fresh salads they sell at their "Garden Goodies" cart at the Twins' home stadium, Target Field. Kowalski's Culinary Director Rachael Perron recently sat down with Sue to learn a little more about this venture:
Rachael Perron (RP): Why did you want to start Roots?
Sue Moores (SM): My desire really was and is to change the food conversation, to take a nonmedicinal approach to food. Also, I was at that point in my career that I wanted to do something that mattered to people that might not have as much available to them.
RP: How did the idea come about?
SM: About 5 years ago, some colleagues and I visited the farm now called Urban Roots, and I was really impressed. About the same time the Twins were getting ready to move to their new stadium. I knew they were going to try to reshuffle the deck when it came to the food they served there, particularly focusing on the local angle. I thought it would be good as well if there were more fresh produce options at the ballpark.
RP: You didn't get a space at the park the first year. What happened to finally get you in?
SM: It was persistence. I knew in my heart of hearts that this was going to be a great thing for lots of reasons. In the past I had wanted to do a couple of things I had given up on that had happened elsewhere. This time I thought, "I will go down swinging!"
RP: I love the baseball metaphor!
SM: There's tons of ‘em! I'm a big baseball fan. I have been since I was a kid.
RP: So how does the program work?
SM: Roots gives grants to the garden programs and buys their produce. About 70% of what we serve at the stadium comes from the kids' gardens. The rest is all U.S. product, local if we can get it. The gardens pick leaders to work the cart; the kids aspire to that. They get paid for their work, too.
RP: Do the kids write all of the recipes?
SM: Yep. They pick ingredients they're growing, looking for a balance of color and texture as well as something surprising, like kohlrabi – something interesting that will tap into people's curiosity.
RP: Are any players involved in what you're doing?
SM: Yes, we've been lucky to work with Scott Diamond. I knew he was into recycling and the environment and I thought maybe I could reel him in. Last year he was eating our salads in the locker room. He tweets about Roots and continues to be a great partner. We're working on connecting with other players for this season and will have our salads in the Twins' dining room on some of our game dates. We'd like to think their eating our salads will be great fuel for winning games. It would be great for the kids to see the link between performance and good food.
RP: What are your goals for the 2014 season?
SM: We're really working to grow our reach outside of the ballpark, too. The Minneapolis School District will be serving a Roots salad in the schools this spring. St. Paul Schools are testing them now, and I'd like to see that happen.
RP: Is there something you've learned that you didn't expect to when you started the program?
SM: Never assume someone isn't interested in something. Teenagers especially want these kind of opportunities. That's what these garden programs do. With them we engage and involve youth in something that's pretty unique, rescripting what they think is possible and helping expand their dreams and ideas about what they are capable of. It's about way more than salad. It's about giving youth a chance to see a world of opportunities for themselves and for the Twin Cities community to see that the future is pretty bright if these youth have anything to do with it.
Find Roots for the Home Team at Gate 34 ("pretty close to the flagpole") during weekend Twins 2014 home games.
Roots for the Home Team...
You can learn more about Roots for the Home Team or make a donation at www.rootsforthehometeam.org.
Roots for the Home Team in the Deli
Kowalski's is proud to support Roots for the Home Team, and will be featuring these Roots-inspired salads in the Deli Department all summer long:
Big Bang Seoul Salad – Developed in 2014 by the kids at Urban Roots, this bright and beautiful rice noodle salad has tons of green veggies (including broccoli, pea pods, edamame and cucumber) plus carrot, radish and more. It features a sweet and mildly spiced sesame vinaigrette.
Pizza Salad with Orzo – This salad was developed by the kids at Youth Farm for the 2014 season. It features the great flavors of pizza – tomato, basil, oregano and Parmesan – in a cold pasta salad with a little onion, green pepper and zucchini for good measure. It’s tossed with a fresh and light Italian herb vinaigrette.
Spring Roll Salad – This salad, inspired by the recipe featured below, was developed by the kids at Youth Farm. It features rice noodles, carrot, cucumber and tons of fresh herbs. The lightly sweet peanut dressing has just a hint of heat.
Roots kids develop all of the recipes they serve at the Garden Goodies cart. This recipe from their 2013 menu was a fan fave.
8 oz. rice noodles, broken in half
Cook noodles according to package directions; rinse with cool water and drain well. In a large mixing bowl, mix carrot, cucumber, herbs and green onion; stir in noodles. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients except greens and peanuts; pour half of dressing over noodle mixture and stir gently until coated. Serve noodle salad over greens; drizzle with remaining dressing to taste and sprinkle with peanuts.
*A note about gluten: To make this recipe gluten free, use a gluten-free sweet chili sauce, such as Thai Kitchen Sweet Chili Sauce
Recipe and photo courtesy of Roots for the Home Team.