Nicole Sligar, Grow Your Own Festival Founder
On a recent visit to the Vegas Roots Community Garden a teacher asked if she could take a large, beautiful, freshly harvested beet to show her 2nd grade students. The beet was the size of a softball. The greens were enormous and lush. She showed it to her class the next day and asked them what it was. They had no idea. She passed it around and let them smell it and touch it. They were fascinated. Then the teacher cut it into bite sized pieces. The children giggled at the juicy redness that reminded them of blood. She passed the pieces around and to her surprise, most of the kids tasted it. Some of them even liked it!
This experience opened up a conversation about the foods they eat and where it originates from. Most of the food they eat comes in boxes. Most of them, like many adults, don’t like veggies. But on this day the teacher saw a bit of a shift in the children’s attitudes toward this beet. Local friends that help facilitate school garden programs report the same. The children who help grow the food, want to eat the food. Similarly, when a child is involved in preparing the food, they become more interested in eating it. As parents, it is our responsibility to help change the relationship that we all have with food. A child will emulate their parents eating habits. A parent who drinks soda and eats pizza regularly will likely raise children who do the same. A parent who loves veggies will likely raise a child who loves veggies too. It’s a huge responsibility but it is one that pays off with better health for the entire family.