Radish Routine #3
Produce of the Day
While Radish Routine #2, Positive Affirmation, tenderly targets the start of a child’s food journey, Produce of the Day seeks to knock their socks off with new, wild exploration. At Food Literacy Center, we use these approaches simultaneously. While the recipes in our curriculum are gradually building from familiar to daring, our Produce of the Day jumps straight to the bold end of the line. The stakes are smaller with Produce of the Day, because it’s a tasting program, rather than a whole meal or snack.
How does it work? For every program, we bring a new piece of produce to class. One week it might be bok choy, and the next it could be cactus. The point is to repeatedly expose children to the wide, wild, wonderful world of healthy food. We establish our ground rules and Broccoli Boundaries, such as Don’t Yuck My Yum, and we invite children to explore.
We never force students to try Produce of the Day. It can take 10 to 15 exposures to a new food before a child decides whether they like it, so we’re patient. We use Positive Affirmation to cheerlead the Produce of the Day. We share fun facts about the crop. We describe how it tastes. We get excited and tell students how much we love the color, the crunch, or the character of flavor. Then, we ask, “Who’s ready to taste this?!”
We never ask, “do you want this?” Our positive approach eliminates the opportunity for a child to say, “no.” Instead, we ask for the positive—for the volunteers ready to be Food Adventurers. In a full classroom, there are always eager eaters ready to taste. Once they do, peer pressure ensues, and soon the whole class is happily chomping on chives or chicory or even chard.
There will be weeks that are more successful than others, and that’s okay. We’re exploring and learning together. The point is: we’re changing kids’ attitudes towards trying new foods. In the long run, we’re helping them develop a healthy eating habit that will last a lifetime!
For families at home, we recommend that they commit to trying one new piece of produce each week. It can be overwhelming to start with more than one, because it takes time to learn how to cut and prepare new foods. So, set a realistic goal and just try one. Let your child choose the produce. Make it a weekly adventure! Make it your goal to taste that food, and if you feel ambitious, to also learn to cook it. Over the course of a year, you will have tried many new foods and likely found several new favorites.