Extension Agent Shares His Love for Food

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by Sister Kathy Curtis

make half your plate fruits and vegetablesUntil recently, Joel Worth, the UK Extension Service SNAP agent for Jefferson County, was the Horticultural assistant in charge of the Pikeville Farmers’ Market. Worth is a chef and prior to working for the extension service he was a school nutrition coordinator in Savannah, Georgia.

Worth loves to cook and he never lets an opportunity to feed a person pass him by. If you have attended a meeting at the Pike County Extension office sometime in the last three years, you have benefited from his love of food.

During Worth’s time as market manager for the Pikeville Farmers’ Market, he did “sampling” for the vendors. Sampling, trying a small taste of something before buying it, is regulated by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and is a great way to promote new or different varieties of produce.

“I found when I did samples last year [at the market] that it increased sales. You let them taste something, you have a recipe card and they go and buy the stuff to make it.”

His love of food and especially cooking was something he got at an early age. But he found while working as a school nutrition coordinator that kids don’t know where food comes from. He said that today’s kids don’t learn how to cook.

“That’s where I got my first love of food: cooking with my mom,” Worth beamed. “I have the type of mom where if it was a rainy day, she didn’t sit me in front of the TV. She’d say ‘come on we’re going into the kitchen and make gnocchi’ or we’d make donuts.”

I don’t know about his donuts but I have had the pleasure of breaking bread with him a time or two and all I have to say is, “Thank you Mrs. Worth.”

Note: A gnocchi is a simple pasta that can be made from potatoes. Joel didn’t have his mom’s recipe handy. I guess after all this time he just knows how to do it without instructions. He says there are tons of simple recipes online. Why not try one out today with your favorite child or two.

Breaking Beans: The Appalachian Food Story Project is an initiative of Community Farm Alliance to tell the story of how local food and farming in Eastern Kentucky can contribute to a bright future in the mountains.