Welcome: An Essay on Food & Life

by Jacob, age 16

Jacob-Age 16

Welcome to my kitchen, where I cut meat and other fleshy things. I like to cook on my stove. I like my meat charred to the bone. It smells so good while I’m searing it in olive oil. I cook the meat for about 20 minutes usually and then eat it. It tastes like chicken so I love it. I then usually skip over to my refrigerator and pour myself a glass of thick red from the hearts of the most interesting of places.

Welcome to the Beach, where I can lay my feet in the water and relax. I inhale and exhale with so much relief that I am here. A place unlike anywhere else in the world. The sweet, salty, satisfying smell of the ocean brings me into an entrancing new life. I feel the water run up and down my feet like it is trying to grasp me into its life. I look up, its already time for the sun to go down. It brings me uplifting sight as its beauty shines off the water showing me the future is bright. Nobody is here but me, and I truly enjoy that feeling. A place where I can just lie down and think, and think, and think, and think, and plan, and think.

Welcome to the Concrete Jungle, where people are rude, unintelligent, and do not understand how society works. I look around and see nothing but filthy creatures trying to corrupt the world. Nobody cares about others in this place. People stick to themselves and themselves only in the city. If one person is to go missing, who is to know, who is to care, and who is to try and figure it out. Cars honk, people talk, and the city life goes on. No matter what happens to these people, the city, the state, and the world will go on.

Welcome to the Sport, where I am tested to show my physical abilities and always make sure I perform to the best of my abilities. I must put in the work that is needed to get the result that I want. I train with a mindset unlike any other person. My passion for the sport is unique in the sense that I am only one of a few that enjoys it. There is always a goal in this the sport I do.  Every time I have set a goal in this sport that I so much love, I have always reached it.

Welcome to life, where everything is glorious. I set goals for myself and always accomplish them. Because of my working ethic, I always am in a good mood. I enjoy lying around at the house and spending my time at the beach. My favorite color is red, which is the color I painted my walls. The cool thing is, is that people like me. They even donated the red paint for me to use for my walls. My life is always filled with people. People come in and out of my life with the snap of my finger but they are gone, not forgotten. My life is quiet most of the time unless I’m doing the sport that I love so much. And I always play this sport with another person. I am never alone, ever.

Welcome to my mind, where my thoughts are everlasting and everything is always thought about. I love to think about others and how my future might end up. My morals always seem to pop up in my mind. Are they good? Or are they bad? I can never tell. As long as I’m happy, then it does not matter. I always seem to reckon into my past, but the past is not the present and the present is the only thing that matters. My mind is stronger than most. People think they can predict the future but they are not even close. Unlike these people, I can see the future for others, but only the people that I want to see the future for.

I welcome all  of you

ZeHunger Challenge

ZeBot's Hunger Challengeby ZeBot Zebra

Zebras love challenges (including learning to cook and write without the benefit of opposable thumbs). And we’re always hungry for new things—new foods, new friends, new ideas.

So when I heard about the Hunger Challenge, I knew I wanted to give it a try—but in a ZeZillion years, I could never have imagined how powerfully it would help me learn about the world around me.

The Hunger Challenge is a five-day journey initiated by the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank, whose executive director Paul Ash describes it as a special way to “become an advocate for the hungry.”

ZeBot Lentils

How do you do it? Well, it’s pretty simple, but not easy.

All you need to do is live on a food stamp budget ($4.50 per person/zebra per day) that’s supplemented by a list of fresh seasonal foods and staples that are available at the local food pantry.

By asking people (and zebras) to participate in the challenge, the Food Bank is hoping to create a perspective of understanding and empathy.

“We can read articles and digest statistics,” Paul says, “but until hunger is a visitor at your table, it’s difficult to wrap your head around the complexity of the problem.”

I wanted to wrap my head and heart and stripes around the challenges: I know that 1 in 4 local residents go hungry every day. And in other parts of the country and the world, the problem is even bigger.

Read more of ZeBot’s story — and find Deborah Madison’s Caramelized Tofu recipe here!

Cooking With Kids for Community Service


On the surface, cooking with kids and community service might seem like they have nothing in common. But if you just take a moment to consider it, they share several characteristics. Both require a serving of cooperation, a dash of patience and a pinch of creativity. Think it might not be worth the effort? Close your eyes and recall the expression on your child’s face when you praised her cooking or his participation in the kitchen. Now, imagine her sharing the fruits of her labor with a hungry child, or selling his treats at a bake sale…and then donating the proceeds to a cause he cares about.

Continue reading to learn about some of my favorite organizations that encourage children to use cooking as a vehicle to help the needy.

Michelle Stern, DooF’s Community Outreach Director, owns What’s Cooking, a certified green company that offers cooking classes for children in the San Francisco Bay Area. When she isn’t in the kitchen or at the computer, she’s the head chauffeur for her two children, dog walker to her two mutts, and chicken feeder for her backyard flock.