Today I often hear someone suggest a new food to a child, only to have a parent quickly say, “he won’t like that”. I want to run over and say, “How do you know? Give him a chance! Maybe he’ll love it!” When kids turn up their noses at something they’ve never had before, my go to line is, “do you like peanut butter?” Almost universally, the answer is “YES!” And I say, “How do you know?” Well (duh!), they tell me, they tried it and, oh yes, they liked it! So, I say to them, what if you had never tried peanut butter – ever? How would you know that you like it? Generally, I get a blank stare – I mean, really, lady – I just know that I like it!
Truthfully, though, we often stop kids from experimenting because of our own hangups about what we like, what we think they will like…or because we have been programmed to believe that kids won’t eat vegetables. I suppose the fact that spinach was always one of my favorite things – as a kid – confirms that I am weird. But here’s the thing…my folks didn’t tell me I wouldn’t like it. They didn’t tell me anything at all, really – it was part of what was being served for dinner, and the rule in the house was you tried everything on your plate. I tried it, I liked it…so, really, nettles just weren’t that far away for this palate!
Today I spent a little time in my spring garden. The garlic is already two inches high in some spots under the straw, and I have radishes, arugula, mesclun lettuce and some carrots popping up in my hot box. I am like a kid in that proverbial candy store…only, I just can’t wait to eat something green! Maybe this spring, you can take your kids outside, have them examine what is growing out there – what can they taste? what might they like? Rather than discouraging experimentation – let’s encourage it! EAT THE LAWN….eat the weeds….you’ll be amazed at the nutrition in a serving of chickweed, clover, lamb’s quarters, dandelion leaf, purslane, wood sorrel…wow, I am getting hungrier by the minute!
I’m sure your mom meant to tell you, if she didn’t, that it is far better for the planet – and for you – to forage some of those “weeds” (herbs!!!) than to spray pesticide on them. So go….get out there…eat those herbs!