Oak Cliff resident Luis Olvera not only co-owns Art of Peace Community but is also the chef at the Oak Cliff Montessori school. He recently took a “Raw Food Executive Chef” week long course at Pure Foods, LLC. Luis began working with raw food two years ago. “When I started cooking with local/organic produce and herbs it took my cooking to another level of yum,” he says.

You can’t get any more local than your back yard. Luis, with the help of parent volunteers and the Garden Lady, incorporated a garden for the school. I asked him about the children’s response to the garden: “Phenomenal! The children love working with the soil and connecting to the earth. They get dirty, and they are happy. Daily they eat fresh fruit and vegetables right from their own garden.” Not only do the Art of Peace kiddos get to learn how to grow their own food, but recently Luis also incorporated chickens, which they feed and care for daily.

Olvera also incorporates raw foods into the Art of Peace meals and snacks. The kids get good local organic food with the vitamins and minerals intact. Do the kids like it? “The children’s response has been great. They consume raw foods four times more than cooked,” he says. A favorite is green salad with local spinach, red onions, carrots and cherry tomatoes, complete with a homemade dressing. I was impressed to see an 18-month-old eating the salad happily.

Luis is also a local food buyer. He recently received a produce order from the We Over Me Farm at Paul Quinn College. In the picture, he is preparing the vegetables to make a raw lasagna. I asked him why he prefers to purchase local: “The food tastes the best,” he says. “It is much richer, wholesome, and not always bigger in size, but you can’t beat the flavor.”

“When it comes to education, expanding our children’s palates, nothing is more enriching and rewarding than raw local food. With food preparation comes language, math, practical life, and all aspects of the world around us; unwrapping an inorganic processed ‘treat’ just doesn’t cut it,” he says. What is next for Luis? He is planning his first private catering event for an intimate party using only local farm fresh organic foods.