Vegetable Gardening – Surprising Benefits for Children
There are two significant men in my life who don’t eat their vegetables. These are not my children. These are independent adults who, presumably, could choose to eat nothing but ice cream if they wanted. They both make their own dietary choices every day.
Unfortunately for them, most of these choices do not include vegetables. They eat lots of meat. I, personally, have nothing against meat. They eat lots of carbs. Pasta, potatoes, bread. All these are fine in moderation for most people.
But, left to their own devices, very few vegetables pass the lips of these two men. It’s not that they don’t know that we all need to get our veggies every day. It’s just that they have other things that distract and take priority. Like meat. And carbs.
Learning to Love Vegetables
How can you persuade someone who has maintained a lifelong distrust or indifference toward vegetables that these variously colored, sometimes unappealingly-flavored foods are actually worth eating?
I do have a suggestion to help encourage the love of vegetables in your children so that they don’t end up as veggie-haters. Grow your own!
We had a large backyard garden when the children were young. It was packed with all the usual suspects: peas, beans, tomatoes, etc. The kids never lacked for snacks during the growing season. They had my permission to snack as much as they wanted on peas fresh from the pod, tender beans, and sweet cherry tomatoes. These were considered a treat.
Attack of the Killer Kohlrabi
In addition to snacks, the garden provided a way to introduce the children to such exotic fare as Swiss chard, a versatile cross between spinach and celery, orange tomatoes, a sweeter and less acidic choice for sandwiches and salads, a wide variety of lettuces, before such colorful mixes were popular in the grocery store, and kohlrabi, the vegetable from outer space.
While the freshness and taste of home-grown vegetables is enough, in itself, to convince anyone of their value, children also benefit from working in a backyard garden. It is a wonderful learning experience for kids to see where their food comes from. If they choose their own seeds or plants, and dig in the dirt themselves to plant them, they can see and appreciate the amount of work that it takes to produce the food we eat every day.
The Wily Mom’s Secret Reason for Gardening
All of my, now grownup, children eat their vegetables. I credit this to their early exposure to the hot off the vine, fresh from the soil, home-grown veggies in their childhood backyard. By experiencing vegetables at their very best, my children learned to love them.
What to do about the grownups who aren’t big veggie fans? We just need to plant more gardens!