Food As Wellness

Brightwater believes that wellness encompasses sustainable farming practices, healthy community relationships, and the well-being of individuals through local food. They are all connected. To that end, we promote a variety of activities and courses of study in culinary nutrition, applied farming, seasonal cooking, and whole animal butchery. Wellness involves daily practice and understanding the culinarian’s impact on the food system, not merely adhering to a prescriptive checklist of do's and don'ts.

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Roasted Nuts And White Rice

Culinary Nutrition

Brightwater approaches food as medicine, starting with the basic principles of nutrition, including their application to food preparation, menu planning and a healthy lifestyle. We provide training for our culinary and nursing students, the general public and medical professionals. The key to our training is a hands-on discovery of nutritional science through the daily preparation, tasting, and analysis of dishes. Using curricula licensed by the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine at Tulane University, Brightwater provides students with a knowledge base of diet, lifestyle, nutrition and how they relate to well-being and disease. All degree-seeking students are required to take culinary nutrition. We also offer nutritional training to the public as part of our community engagement and outreach. Finally, continuing medical education (CME) is available to doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals following a similar interactive and participatory approach.

Attention is given to providing nutritionally-balanced and attractive meals. Menu planning using sound nutritional guidelines is stressed. The concept of creating menus while focusing on food allergies, intolerances, preferences and restrictions is also introduced. We employ a food-first perspective with an eye toward the practical aspects of what customers and patients face day-to-day when trying to make substantive change in their lives. The focus is on teaching about food: how to cook, what to eat, and how to help people improve diets—and thereby, health.

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Sauce Poured Over Cauliflower


Brightwater has partnered with Cobblestone Farm to have a greenhouse on our campus. Cobblestone Farm uses agriculture to help the under-resourced in the Northwest Arkansas community by focusing on five strategic pillars: Hunger Relief, Education, Economic Development, Community, and Sustainability. Through this collaboration, students will be able to see the value of their finished product, from seed to plate and from seed to community. Brightwater’s goal is to grow students into mindful chefs that recognize ingredients based on seasonality and geographic region. Throughout their time at Brightwater, students will continually interact with the school garden, giving them a holistic perspective on food.

Students learn about seasonality through hands-on work at the Brightwater garden and greenhouse as well as visits to farms from small, diversified operations to large scale. The horticulture program and gardens on the main campus of NorthWest Arkansas Community College provide additional opportunities for vegetable and fruit exploration. Students learn about soil health and its connection to growing food. They get their hands dirty helping in the on-campus garden and heated greenhouse, enabling season extension opportunities for a year-round field-to-plate curriculum. There are also plans to add hydroponics, aeroponics, and aquaponics systems for student use in Bentonville.

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Lemons Growing On A Tree


Northwest Arkansas enjoys four mild seasons throughout the year, providing a tremendous opportunity for multiple growing seasons. The emphasis on food and farming include an applied farming class through farm and garden partners and a seasonal cooking class utilizing fresh produce. Hoop houses and a heated greenhouse allow for growing product beyond the traditional seasons.

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Sliced Apples And Parsley

Food Waste

Brightwater is committed to training students and the community to reduce food waste and recover edible food. We embrace a holistic approach to food waste. We do not simply focus on reducing food waste numerically, but also on educating to create a culture of respect and care. In the kitchen, we teach awareness of how each ingredient can be used in its totality. Prepared foods will be donated to local charities, through our Students will learn new techniques to incorporate each part of the ingredient into their dishes. Unusable scraps will be used for our on-site garden’s compost.

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