The Big Zucchini

August 10, 2009

I was visiting with an old, dear friend of mine this past weekend who I don’t think will be surprised at all to see this story appearing on my blog! 🙂  I hadn’t seen her in over 3 years, and much has changed for both of us since then.  It was also absolutely incredible to get to visit with her now 7 year old son who was so loving and welcoming.  But aside from hearing the regular tales of his childhood, I was incredibly excited to be informed about the opportunities he has been given to get in the garden this summer, and how much he has loved growing vegetables.

Sitting at the kitchen table, I was presented with the fruit of his labor.  It was a BIG (and I mean big!) zucchini.  And while many kids might look at a guest as an opportunity to have mom serve up some special (i.e. unhealthy) treats, he wanted nothing more than to slice open that zucchini so that we could all enjoy it together.  This moment truly warmed my heart in more ways than I could possibly express.

Do kids really hate vegetables?  Or is it just that, in our modern society, we have all lost a connection to food that can be translated to the next generation?  Are we giving up and giving in to the relentless marketing that comes with “kid food” on the shelves?  What would happen if more of us were to take our kids to visit a farm, to start a small garden in our yards and have them help tend to it, or even use window boxes if a garden isn’t practical?  Kids love to play – and let’s face it kids love to play in dirt.  What if we could turn this “inconvenience” into a learning opportunity to help them understand and even participate in the process of how we get our food?  What if we could give each child a chance to grow their own big zucchini and experience the pride that comes with sharing that success with their family members and guests?

I may not have children of my own, but I feel an immense passion and obligation to help educate today’s youth about healthy eating.  I can only imagine the frustration of the parents who try and try to get their children to eat fruits and vegetables, but end up having to give into junk food just to simply get them to eat.  I don’t envy the challenges they face in battling the cartoon characters on sugary cereal boxes and the commercials for junk food permeating their kids’ favorite TV shows.  So maybe it’s time to stop fighting this battle on the TV and in the supermarkets.

Consider what it might mean for your children if they were to visit a farm and pick their own food.  Or better yet get to grow it while playing in the backyard?  What a gift it could be for both of you to experience this together, and what a moment it could be for you as a mom or dad to have your child ask at the next snack time to slice up that big zucchini.  It may not replace the calls for chips and cookies and soda, but it’s a start.  Let’s do all we can to provide our kids today the knowledge and experiences around food that might just support the choices they make in the future, and might make dinner time just a little bit easier!


4 Responses to “The Big Zucchini”

  1. Angela Says:

    I think I’m becoming your biggest fan 🙂 Great article!

  2. Nicki Says:

    I was caught by the title. My boys have finally accepted the Big Z as something they eat. It started once upon a time at Bonzai, when the hibachi chef threw pieces into their mouths. They decided then that was the only way to eat it.

    When we planted them as one of the mainstays of our garden this year, I knew I needed to find many ways to make them enjoyable and introduced different preps, including raw, casserole, and crustless quiche. Each child seems to prefer one way over the other, but they will all eat them now.

    They also discovered the joy of garden fresh tomatoes this year. We have planted these in the past, and the kids were NOT into them then, but I have found that continuing to expose them to flavors over time does help them grow to like them. Now, all 4 are downing tomatoes like they do apples. 🙂

  3. Patti McCabe Says:

    Thanks for sharing, Nicki! That’s amazing, and you are absolutely right to bring up the fact that exposure over periods of time is even more effective. Hope you all enjoy the rest of the tomato season! 🙂

  4. Jodi Says:

    I love this 🙂 I agree completely!!! There are lots of things parents can do to introduce healthy habits to their children. Great suggestions!!!You were also very responsive to parents, acknowledging the challenges they face at mealtimes, the supermarket, etc… I am sure lots of parents will enjoy reading this and perhaps share ideas of what has worked for them.

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