Kids and Veggies. How to Foster a Love Affair (3)
Grow something small.
When I was very young we lived on a farm in Fox Lake, Illinois. My mother grew an impressive organic garden and my two brothers and I had the opportunity to help tend our food. I have fond memories of keeping the animals out of the garden and running outside to pick veggies for our meals. I remember taking the colander with me and filling it to the brim then immediately rinsing the greens in the sink. On the weekends we would pick all we could and sell our produce at a nearby farmer’s market. I thought all families ate the same way. Perhaps many did in the 70s.
My parents separated when I was a toddler, but they shared similar food values. My father has never eaten at a fast food restaurant. He was raised in Greece and that was not part of his culture. His comfort foods consist of whole foods, rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Meat was a side in some meals, hardly a main attraction. Vegetables abundant and fruit sweeter than anything I have ever tasted in the States. My father lives in Arizona and he grows an impressive garden, year-round. When we visit, my boys run to the citrus trees in the morning to pick fresh oranges and then devour them at the kitchen table. They associate his home with family and good food, often asking if we will ever have trees they can eat from.
Here are some photographs my father took of his garden:
We do not all have the luxury of a large outdoor space to grow such an abundant garden. Many of us do not have the spare time. But, we can all grow a few herbs indoors. Large grocery chains like Sprouts and Whole Foods sell living basil in water. It couldn’t be easier to keep alive. The only task is to set it near a window and keep the roots covered with water. I kept one alive for 6 months and my boys would pluck the leaves off and toss them into the pots as I cooked. It cost less than $3 and I never used or bought dried basil. In the spring my boys each have their own cherry tomato plant and they are completely responsible for it. I love to watch them decide when the tomato is ripe enough to pluck. Their tiny fingers breaking it free from the stem, their eyes close as they place the precious piece of fruit in their mouth. Each time I hope it leaves enough of an impression to form a memory. A positive memory of vegetables. Something more than a food that has to be finished in order to enjoy dessert or leave the table.
There are a ton of resources online for growing fruits and veggies in containers. This spring consider growing something small and involve your children. You may be surprised how many things you can grow right inside your house. Check out this site, they sell indoor starter kits for growing your own colony of mushrooms. There are many companies that sell similar products. This site teaches you how to grow them on your own.
My father started by growing herbs in containers. There are a ton of fruits and vegetables that can be grown this way.