Real Food For Thought

This Changes Everything

by Molly McCullagh, Education Coordinator

popcorn popperThis magical device just recently came into our life. It’s a game changer for the Education team. What might look like an ordinary electric popcorn popper is actually a flavorful-snack-delivery-time-saving machine. One of our goals is to encourage all of our youth to “Try It On” – be bold and challenge yourself to try something new every time you come to the farm. Something all of the youth in our farm programs agree on is popcorn. And they ask for it all the time! But they’re usually only familiar with popcorn made in a bag in the microwave, coated with some kind of fake butter flavor and lots of salt (anyone remember Pop Secret that turned out either bright blue, yellow, green, or red?). Trying stove-top popcorn, with simple flavorings is often brand new for them.

Now, usually, making popcorn in our workshop space is challenging – without a stove- top, we’re stuck using brown paper lunch bags full of kernels with a drizzle of oil in our staff microwave. Popping enough to satisfy our hungry team in lunch-bag-sized batches takes forever. This popcorn maker allows youth to help us make the popcorn in our workshop space. But then, picture this: an enormous bowl of popcorn, unsalted, unflavored, in front of a group of 12 middle school students. After the first bite, their reaction is usually “This is so plain” (or, really, “This is nasty”).

farm club & popcornNot to worry, we have some secret ingredients: our spice selection. Before you know it, we’re shaking cumin, garlic salt, cayenne, and lemon pepper into our bowls of kernels and giving it a mix. We’re experimenting with flavors, taking something we all are familiar with – popcorn – and expanding our palates with spices that we’ve never tried before. The results are our own blends of spiced popcorn to suit our tastes. Now, some of these experimental recipes are meant to be written and shared, while others are better left on the chopping board. But, at the end of our popcorn days, our youth have learned how popcorn can be a healthy snack – less salt, less butter, more flavor!

Cajun Popcorn Recipe


2 ¼ teaspoons coarse salt

1 ¼ teaspoons paprika

½ teaspoon garlic powder

¾ teaspoon onion powder

¾ teaspoon ground pepper

¾ teaspoon dried oregano

¾ teaspoon ground thyme

½ to ¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ cup canola oil

24 cups plain popped popcorn (from 1 cup kernels)


In a small bowl, stir together salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, oregano, thyme, and cayenne pepper. In a very large bowl, drizzle oil over popcorn and toss. Add spice mixture and toss to coat.

About Real Food Farm

Real Food Farm works toward a just and sustainable food system by improving neighborhood access to healthy food, providing experience-based education, and developing an economically viable, environmentally responsible local agriculture sector.

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