By Jessica Prentice
What a blessing to be in Idaho this past week, connecting in person with Michele and Natalie and with applicants and their families. I am so excited for the group of founding families who will join us for our first year of Nova High this Fall!
One of the offerings that will set us apart from other schools and start-ups is that we will make a food program intrinsic to Nova High from the get-go. Our students will be nourished with real food on a daily basis and will learn to nourish themselves. This skill will last them a lifetime.
Teaching food and nutrition is not just about building culinary skills. Our program will include math, science, culture, and history. We’ll look at scientific studies in an effort to discern what they tell us about human nutrition. We’ll examine the economics and politics of the food industry. We’ll also grapple with ethical and environmental questions about what we eat. And good nutrition—with lots of healthy fats—supports brain development. This is part of the science we’ll study together.
My interest in food dates back to my own high school years. Not that we studied food in school–I don’t remember a single teacher mentioning a single thing about food in high school! But outside of the classroom I became rather obsessed with what I ate. I became a strict vegetarian at 14, and dabbled in numerous diets that were supposed to offer me good health. Nevertheless, by the time I went to college I was chronically ill.
My twenties were a period of personal empowerment around food, liberation from fad diets, regaining my health, becoming an ethical omnivore, and understanding the dynamics of nutrition from a range of holistic perspectives.
In 1996 I graduated from a chef’s training program in New York City that focused on food and health. Following that, I got a job as a chef at an artist residency program where I worked for the next 5 years. I devoured the book Nourishing Traditions, discovered the Weston A. Price Foundation, and became a chapter leader who connects people to sources for nourishing foods. Following my stint at the artist residency center, I was hired as the Education Director for the non-profit that runs the largest farmers’ market in San Francisco. My education programs there were oriented towards sustainable agriculture and teaching consumers about the environmental impacts of their food choices.
In 2005 I spent a year writing a book on food—Full Moon Feast: Food and the Hunger for Connection; co-creating a seasonal food wheel with two friends; and co-founding a commercial kitchen cooperative. In 2006 my book was published by Chelsea Green Publishing; printing and selling The Local Foods Wheel began; and Three Stone Hearth Community Supported Kitchen was born in Berkeley. For the next 12 years Three Stone Hearth was my full-time job.
Meanwhile, I met a man, had a son, and discovered Waldorf Education. In 2018 I took my organizational leadership skills into a career change, and became the School Director at my son’s Waldorf School.
But food remains close to my heart, and one of the most exciting things for me personally about Nova High is the chance to marry my interests in Waldorf Education and holistic nutrition and community-oriented cooking. I am excited to share with the students the adventure of making food that is as delicious as it is nutritious, and encountering the world through the magical processes of cooking. We will discover the art and science of cooking in ways that don’t negate the magic, but respect the mysteries as open questions that can be explored for a lifetime.