Grow your own
Childhood memories of vegetables
Recently I participated at a workshop of vegetable growers and health professionals in Melbourne, Australia to develop strategies to help increase the intake of vegetables to children aged between 2 and 6 years.
During a brainstorming session we were asked, 'what is our dilemma?' After pondering the answer to this question, I recalled some of my own childhood memories harvesting vegetables with my grandfather. Could it be as simple as making a reconnection with vegetables?
Children respond to positive role modelling by their teachers and parents. We know, for example, when a child is offered freshly cut cucumbers for a snack break at pre-school for everyone to share (including the teachers) they will happily enjoy them.
When we see how eager children are to participate in some of the ‘paddock to plate’ processes like harvesting, buying the produce at the market, or helping to prepare the salad, we know they are not the problem.
Could it be us?
Growing up in the industrial age, convenience was embraced without question. The fridge became our garden, the drive-through meal our special treats, and the fizzy drinks our nectar.
As we traded our veggie patches and 'chook' pens for manicured lawns we started to lose that precious chance to harvest home-grown produce often with our parents or grandparents. Was this the moment we stopped growing?
It is often said that the future will contain the best memories of the past. Will our children be able to remember the joy of being able to share their harvest with friends and neighbours?
Isn’t it our responsibility to ensure our children’s future includes a connection with vegetables?