Niagara Gazette — When Erin Burch made a fresh spinach salad with mandarin oranges, she won the heart of a teenager who had never tasted fresh spinach before.
“Her mother said it was her daughter’s new favorite thing to eat,” recalled Burch, who travels throughout the region teaching people how to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in their diets by letting them taste recipes that include fresh produce.
Another crowd-pleaser at her classes is a three-bean salad made with fresh, chopped, uncooked green beans and a can each of kidney beans and chi-chi beans, all mixed in a vinaigrette dressing.
Burch teaches up to 15 classes a month for the WNY Food Bank. Her audiences at churches, senior centers and food banks are often surprised by her recipes, especially that three-bean salad.
“They just never had anything like that salad,” she said. “They’re used to the mushy canned beans. These beans are crisp and crunchy and so much more pleasant.”
She often introduces her students to fresh foods they’ve never tried before. “I get a lot of people that will say ‘I’ve never had this fruit or vegetable,’ or ‘I’m definitely going to try this at home’ or ‘I even think my kids will eat this.’ “
Her program is among the many to benefit from the Plentiful Partnership of Niagara campaign, created to get more fresh produce to low-income Niagara County residents, delivered from the bounty of Niagara farms.
Tom Tower thinks it’s a crime to throw away good food.
The gentleman farmer from Youngstown is noted for his passion for agricultural craftsmanship, so seeing his carefully grown produce lying wasted in the field causes him great distress.
He was one of the first farmers in the region to bring his apples by the truckload to the Western New York Food Bank. It was pure logic and generosity that prompted him to do so, but when the food bank received somaze state money to buy fresh produce, Tower and Justin Guerin, food bank operations director, worked out a deal. One month Tower would make a donation, the next month, the bank would pay a fair price for the leftover apples.