Visit the Farmer's Market
"Blech! I hate carrots," Trevor declared, as I scooped a serving onto his dinner plate. "I don't want any."
"Me either," chimed in his sister. "I don't like orange food," she declared, obviously forgetting about the macaroni and cheese she clamors for every night.
Every night, no matter what color vegetable I served -- or how I served it -- I seemed to get the same reaction. Carrots cooked in honey didn't sweeten their taste for the vitamin-rich food and gooey cheese dip didn't entice them to gobble up their broccoli. Even sweeter health fare like strawberries and peaches didn't make them bite. All I heard was a resounding "yuck" each evening.
"Don't you think someone took a lot of time and effort to grow this fresh food to keep us healthy?" I asked them. "Maybe we should ask a farmer why fruits and vegetables are so important."
The next weekend, we headed out to an apple farm near our home. Since it was early fall, there were about 30 varieties of apples ready to be picked, including Honey Crisps, McIntoshes, red Fujis, and Granny Smiths.
"Wow. I never knew there were so many different kinds of apples," Ally said. "Why are there so many?"
When I told her they all taste different, she looked very surprised.
"I wonder which one tastes the best?" she mused aloud.
The kids and I spent the next two hours picking, washing, and sampling our choices as we talked about the time and effort that goes into growing mature apple trees.
"I like this one because it tastes sour," Ally said, as she bit into a Granny Smith with relish.
"I think this one tastes sweet," Trevor said, as juice from his Honey Crisp dripped down his chin.
For kids who don't like to try new foods, they sure seemed to be enjoying themselves.
After purchasing apples, we headed off to the adjacent Farmer's Market. Again, the kids were surprised by the variety of foods offered. There were dozens of different kinds of lettuce, peppers, and tomatoes, along with asparagus, green beans, eggplant, and raspberries.
As we walked around the various booths, I explained how to test produce for ripeness.
"Are the raspberries ready?" Trevor asked. "Can I try one?"
He bit into the plump, fuzzy red berry and said, "Hey. These taste like fruit punch."
Hmm, I thought, this just might be working.
As we put away our purchases at home, the kids were so excited they asked if we could start our own garden. Soon they were bickering about which vegetables to plant.
A debate over the merits of carrots versus green beans was one argument I didn't mind listening to.