Andrea’s “coming of age” salad story reminds me of a salad experience I had a few years ago. I was preparing to present to a class of grade five and six students as part of their Food Sense nutrition education program. It was spring, and they were exploring the Vegetables and Fruit food group. I wanted to keep it seasonal and as “BC” as possible, but I was stumped with what to do. My seasoned supervisor, Sydney, suggested (say that three times fast) “How about greens?” “Oh, that’ll go over well with a bunch of grade five and sixes.” I said, thinking she was joking. She wasn’t. Sceptically, I took her up on her challenge.
After a quick chat about the different greens, their names and how and where they grow, the students went off to taste them . To my surprise, they were quickly buzzing about the big bowls of fresh greens, tasting, chatting and scribbling “tasting notes” about how peppery some greens tasted and how others were mustardy, or crisp and refreshing. Then they assembled their chosen mixtures and, as small teams, built the ultimate (in their opinion) combination for a salad. The next step was making and adding the dressings. Again, letting the students taste, identify and build their own creations, they made unique dressings to compliment their green artistry. They were more excited than I could have imagined, for a group of tweens, chowing down bowls of lettuce. They weren’t just eating lettuce or a salad, but they were enjoying a something that they had created. Magnifique!
The class of fidgety students had become leafy green aficionados and salad dressing connoisseurs in no time. I have always believed that people are more flexible and adventurous with food than we often give them credit for, but this was a whole new level for me.
The students (and Sydney) taught me a lesson that day. I was a little hesitant, and made assumptions of what they would like to do. They excelled in exploring, creating and enjoying foods many of us often assume youth would not “be into.” We can all challenge our assumptions. Why not give someone (at any age) a chance to explore a new food on their terms? They might just surprise you.