Why do we forget food can be simple?

And by we I mean me.  Do you forget this too? I sometimes think a meal or a packed lunch has to be more involved than it needs to be, when simple foods are often whole/raw/minimally prepared and really the best for you.

A compelling example follows.

A couple weeks ago I picked up our first box of donated organic fruits and vegetables from Be Wise Ranch. For the first activity I decided to teach the Garden Ambassadors to sauté zucchini and run a taste test for their fifth grade class.  The recipe I found called for garlic, ginger, and soy sauce, and after I gathered these extra ingredients I thought….nope, change of plans.  We’re going to cook these zucchini with a little bit of safflower oil and salt.  By isolating the variable, we’d know whether or not they like zuc, without the ginger or garlic confusing their “yum” or “yuck” vote.


The maiden voyage of our outdoor food prep station!

My lesson plan got simpler too.  Nonetheless, there was so much to teach:

-the importance of weighing our yield, how to read a scale, how to subtract a tare (oh my goodness, high school chemistry coming from some deep recess of my brain), the different   smoke points for different cooking oils, food safety, how a wok works, how to spell wok, how to spell sauté, why it’s important to cut veggies in similar sizes, and on and on and on……


The kids took turns stirring, rotating around the island

And here are three incredible outcomes:

1) 26 kids voted “yum.”  Only one recorded a “yuck.” Remember this is unadorned, lightly stir-fried zucchini, and kids “hate” vegetables.

2)  I had three zucchini left over, and each of ambassadors was begging to take them home.  I offered one to the first kid who remembered how to spell sauté.  Then we drew slips of paper for the other two.  (One read–“Yay, you get the zucchini!” The other: “Sorry, maybe zucchini next time.)  It bears repeating: WE DREW CARDS FOR ZUCCHINI.

3) I spoke with the mom of one of the ambassadors later that day.  She said her daughter not only asked to stop at the store that afternoon to buy zucchini so she could show her family how to cook it, but she had also called her grandmother to make sure she put a few zucchini plants in her spring garden this year.

This is the hope, and in our garden, the reality: that these little lessons learned at school in gardening, nutrition, and science get transferred home.

13 thoughts on “Why do we forget food can be simple?

  1. I just got back in town and I’m catching up on posts. I love this reminder that simple is tastey!

  2. What a beautiful outcome! So often a little education can really change minds and hearts. Vegies rule! (and so does the school garden!)

  3. Great post. The only thing I would change is to add quotation marks to the word “hate.” Remember … and kids “hate” vegetables. : )

  4. Thank you so much!! This is great! I love to hear stories of children getting so excited about good things that they want to share it with their families! How wonderful! You are making such a difference!!

  5. When I got home from work tonight, I was delighted to find that my zucchini-loving garden ambassador and her sister had prepared three “appetizers” for us. Would you believe peppers and celery stuffed with a vegetable mixture, a green salad and….drumroll, please……SAUTEED SPINACH!!!! Thank you, and keep up the good work….we are all benefitting!

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