The other day, we were sitting around our table eating dinner. I had recently picked some homegrown lettuce leaves that were just big enough to eat with our dinner. My 3 year old asked me,
“Where did this tiny salad (how he refers to lettuce) come from?”
I explained that it was from the seeds I had planted, that we had grown it, expecting him to be impressed. He has previously loved gardening and harvesting. Instead I got this,
“You didn’t buy it at the store?”
“No.” I answered.
My jaw dropped. Any sense of parental achievement I had felt up to that point disappeared. “Gross” he says. I couldn’t even respond for a second. Where could this idea have come from??? I had certainly never taught him that! How could he possibly think homegrown lettuce was grosser than store bought? I thought through people he had been around, wondering who could have given him such a crazy idea. In a town this small and rural, most everyone raises at least some of their own food! No one came to mind. I thought through shows he had seen recently but since I never turn movies on for him (so he can watch as much as he wants with grandparents or babysitters) I didn’t know of anything he had watched that could have led to such a tragic conclusion.
Finally I pulled myself together enough to explain how good it is to grow your own food. I talked about the good hard work, the peace of mind knowing it’s clean and well cared for, the health benefits of eating local, homegrown food…probably got a little overboard for a 3 year old…but by the end, he was super excited to eat our amazing baby lettuce leaves.
What To Do?
This experience has stuck with me though. I can’t seem to let it go. I righted his misunderstanding but I can’t help but think about how many others have the same misconception. How often do you hear about the “dangers” of milk straight from a cow. People drank it for thousands of years but suddenly, if it isn’t store bought milk, it’s “gross.”
Homemade treats are often looked down on in preference to their store bought counterparts but when you make a batch of cookies, you know EVERYTHING that you put in there. Can you even PRONOUNCE everything on a label for cookies? Which one is really “gross” when you think about it that way?
We fill ourselves with over processing and chemicals and additives that are all completely unnecessary and then have the audacity to proclaim real food “gross.” What?! (This in no way implies that I am against potato chips or cold cereal. I love some processed foods as much as anyone!)
It starts young. I learned that the shocking way. A 3 year old can start understanding this concept. Let’s be careful what we teach our kids – or allow them to learn from others. Even if you don’t raise your own food, take time to applaud, in front of your children, those that do. Maybe start a small window box for some lettuce or radishes to let them see this vitally important skill in action. Because if we can’t raise our own food, even as a supplement to our grocery store purchases, we are in dire need of a reevaluation. This is among the most basic of human skills. Let’s cultivate it. Pun totally intended.
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