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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Unidentifiable vegetable objects

I'm attaching a rather eye-opening clip that's a preview to Jamie Oliver's new show that starts in March. Jamie goes into a 1st grade classroom to discuss vegetables. First, he uncovers a table of vegetables, to the horror of the class and then proceeds to ask them if they know what he's holding up. It's short (less than 2 minutes):



Now, initially, I was rather horrified myself that the kids couldn't identify rather routine veggies like tomatoes or potatoes. It's not like he was holding up Bok Choy or sunchokes here. So, I immediately decided to quiz my own children to see if they could pass the test.

Between my 2nd grader and Kindergartner, they got all the vegetables in the seed catalog I was using as a test except for the beets (and the exotic heirlooms). They even managed to correctly identify some vegetables I know they've never seen or eaten, like eggplant. I know they can do this because we grow these foods in our backyard and they look at the colorful seed catalogs and pick out what we will grow each year. And, they get it served or watch us prepare these foods.

So, I got to thinking. Growing up, I don't think I could identify these either as a first grader. I'm pretty sure we ate only canned vegetables because fresh was too expensive. Except for maybe a stray celery and a rare carrot here and there. I think today it has a lot to do with poor diets in addition to financial issues.

What about you? Do you think you would have been able to answer these questions as a child? Can your children correctly identify these vegetables?

38 comments:

Dale said...

I think the eggplant might have stumped me, but the rest was pretty common fare when I was that age. Soon after that was when I was first being exposed to gardening.
At that age it was just work to me, but I certainly knew the names of all the stuff we grew.

utahlawyer said...

I grew up with a backyard vegetable garden. I probably would not have known the eggplant, but I would have known the rest.

Misty said...

I would think the results of something like this would still vary depending on the region of the U.S. I think I probably would have known most of those veggies, but I am from a rural area of Alabama where gardens and farms are still very common.

Robj98168 said...

Eggplant? I know eggplant...I hate eggplant. Yeeuck. Okra too, but like everything else. Hey I eat dandelion flowers so thhhhhrppp!

koolchicken said...

I know I could of, I saw veggies growing in the backyard myself. My mother liked to use only fresh produce, and we talked about what she bought. Also, my fathers family is Italian and I was encouraged to discuss the meal.

I don't know how people can eat things like frozen dinners and such. At three if I though my breakfast wasn't freshly prepared from scratch I wouldn't have eaten it. Todays youth has low standards.

Glenda said...

I had my 11yo son watch the video. He's not a big veggie eater, so this was an interesting experiment for me.

He knew them all except the cauliflower, which is understandable since we never buy it.

We unschool, which means there was no school lesson plan about veggies, so the knowledge about these veggies is based on going to the grocery store's produce dept. with me, seeing the things we've grown (we've not yet grown beets or eggplant, but we do grow tomatoes, potatoes, and other veggies), and whatever he's picked up from tv and movies. Interesting.

At his age, I think I would have known all except for the beet. At that point in my life, the only beets I'd seen were the gaggy canned ones put on our lunchplate during elementary school. (That ruined me on beets until a mere few years ago!) I grew up in a big city and we didn't have a garden. We ate either canned or frozen veggies (other than salads that came with restaurant meals). I really only learned to appreciate fresh veggies, and to venture beyond the most common ones, well into my adulthood (late 30's/early 40's).

thesimplepoppy said...

My 8 year can identify a lot of fruits and vegetables because she's been exposed to them. I could also as a child since my mom gardened and cooked a wide variety of produce. But my MIL? She once told me she had never eaten a carrot until she was in her early 20's! And I've known many kids who can't identify simple thing like cucumbers, much less something like an artichoke.

grammpaula said...

First grade is 50 years ago so it's hard to remember back that far. My dad planted a garden every year and I always helped him work it. I wouldn't have known the eggplant or anything other than the basics like onions, tomatoes, carrots, beans and peppers. Those I know he planted and we would eat them right in the garden. He would pull or pick them and clean them off and we would share them. I loved those days. Raising my girls we did have a lot of canned veggies because it was cheaper and more convenient. When my grandchildren were growing up I also had a garden and we would have fresh veggies so they might have done better than these children.

e4 said...

Just tested my first-grader. He guessed "plum" first for the eggplant, but when I said no, he got it on the second try. He got the rest - even beet, which surprised me. I guess it's all those trips the the farm market....

Farmer's Daughter said...

Well, since we grew them and worked in the farm market... I'd ace this test. I'd also be able to tell you if it was fresh or not.

By the time I was 12, I'd be able to tell you a good retail price, either per lb or by the piece. But I realize that's a pretty rare thing! Now, I wish I was still like rain main with the prices. Bananas getting spotty? .29/lb is a good sale. But now I go to the grocery store and find myself wondering if it's a good price or not... I seem to remember them all from when I was a kid, so like a little old lady I think everything's expensive :)

Sue said...

probably would have gotten most of them since we had an extensive garden when I was a kid - my dad even had a mini-cornfield in our suburban backyard, much to the dismay of the neighborhood (you can take the man out of the country...)

My kids would get them all plus some that I might miss. I work on a diversified organic vegetable farm farm and make them come with me in the summer. And I make them work at my friend's farmers market stand sometimes. They mostly trade vegetables for honey sticks at the stall next door, but it does sink in.

leslie said...

There is no way I would have known them. We ate frozen broccoli, green beans, and carrots. Some mashed potatoes and that was it. Until we started going to the Markets I had no idea turnips or other vegetables existed.

My kids could probably name most everything because we grow and can everything...I have a Kindergartner and a 2nd grader. However, they would call turnips "white carrots"because I serve them with actual carrots, and telling them it was a carrot was the only way my picky 8 year old would have tried it...LOL.

Margaret said...

On not quite the same topic, but related, my mother in law hated cheese. She had been married for 3 years before she found out my father in law liked it. She hadn't thought to buy it and he hadn't thought to say he missed it. Mind you, she was a bit fierce.

Sense of Home said...

My mom had a huge garden and did a lot of canning so I probably would have gotten most of the veggies at 6 years. My kids also ate a lot of fresh veggies, even choosing to order the salad bar at restuarants rather than a burger and fries, much to the amusement of our friends. However, to some children answering a stranger in a group setting is intimidating.

Farmer's Daughter said...

This kind of reminds me of the scene in "Super Size Me" when kids can't identify George Washington, George Bush or Jesus, but they know Ronald McDonald. Sad, sad, sad.

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

It's worse than I thought, I would think everyone would recognize those vegetables, although I wouldn't have recognized eggplant since it is hard to grow here without extra attention.

Sorta reminds me of the question we get asked all the time about our milk cow - "Is she a bull?" She still has her horns and people think that means she is a male...

Oldnovice said...

I don't think I could have identified any of them when I was 6. We lived in the city and my parents were poor, so the only things I knew about veggies were: Corn on the cob = good and celery = bad (because my mom didn't know how to cook with it).

My husband eats vegetables today that he never ate as a kid because his mother didn't know how to cook them, either. Google has taken us a lot farther than folks might think.

I gardened when my kids were little, but I think they'd only remember peas and raspberries.

Fr. Peter Doodes said...

Hi Crunchy,

My wife was involved in a youth project in a somewhat depressed area and organised a place for a youth group. The leader she found to run it was a highly motivated and charismatic girl who went out to persuade the local youth to come and see what it was all about.
They agreed only to attend and listen to her if they were supplied with chips. When they turned up there was a pile of potatoes on the table and they all but walked because there were no chips.

It took some effort for her to persuade them that she was actually going to cook chips for them... and that they came from potatoes...

They all thought they came from those bags in the freezer section of the supermarket. They had no idea that chips came from potatoes...

Samantha said...

hmmm. i really don't know if i could have named all of them in first grade, but i'd definitely know tomatoes (i used to eat them like apples) and cauliflower (we ate that every Thanksgiving, at least) and potatoes. mostly, we ate canned vegetables when i was growing up. but i do remember my parents having a garden when i was really small and we'd pick green beans off the vine. plus the neighborhood kids and i would find rhubard growing in backyards in CT and pick it and eat it. (and i'm pretty sure i couldn't recognize rhubard in the wild today!)

Adrienne said...

I don't exactly remember what I would have thought in first grade, but I probably would have recognized most of that... but not beets or eggplant. My parents never had any sort of a garden or anything and my mom didn't cook with less than ordinary veg, I think b/c she would rather make stuff she knew we would eat. After I left home I was exposed to a lot more things but it really wasn't until my late 20's that I started cooking with all kinds of different veg. I'd never even heard of a jerusalem artichoke until a few years ago.

Aimee said...

I brought my kids into the room and played the clip for them. The veggies went by pretty fast and sometimes there just wasn't a good picture, but my kids (4 and 6) got everything.... even the leek! However, we HAVE been spending the last few weeks looking at seeds packets.

Anonymous said...

I can do veggies and fruit really well, but the first time I saw a potato plant in my garden I kept waiting for something to grow on it, until a friend gently pointed out that I should dig.
Someone at the farmers market next to me yesterday had no idea what a gooseberry is.

Miss Kris said...

I would have recognized potatoes and tomatoes, but not sure about anything else. We ate mostly frozen and canned vegetables because of cost.

I know it will be different for my kid because I use fresh produce and he goes to the farmer's market with me. We also have a small vegetable garden. I've ended up teaching multiple neighborhood kids what different vegetables look like because they like to come over and 'help'.

Ruby said...

I asked my second grader and he had no idea what a lot of the veggies are even though he eats a lot of them and knows he doesn't like them. :) He did know the basics like tomato, potato, etc.

I know I would never had known most of them as a kid, they didn't exist where I grew up.

semicrunchymama said...

I'd like to think I would have recognized them...or at least a decent percentage! My grandparents always had a pretty extensive vegetable garden, and my grandfather would take me out there and show me around, talk with me about what he had planted. And I remember husking corn, shelling peas, harvesting radishes & tomatos...and eating everything, too!

Erika said...

I'm pretty sure I would have managed most of them as a 6-year-old; my mom constantly fed me "non-kid" food, and both of my grandmothers were adamant about fresh food -one having a HUGE garden, orchard, and herb garden that I loved playing in and "helping" with. Hubby grew up with a garden in his backyard, and said he probably would have know what they ate and grew, but most likely not artichoke, eggplant, or perhaps the butternut squash - he might have said squash, but he might also just know squash as yellow-crook-neck, he also said he wouldn't have known the difference between cucumber and zucchini at the same size.

I used to teach a class to 1st through 4th graders about nutrition, funded by the USDA... and a lot of the kids (even living in a big farming community, many kids being the children of farm workers) didn't know the difference between meat and fruit, milk and vegetables, animal and plant... it was a guessing game.

I'd be interested to see what 3rd or 4th graders can do on the same "quiz," since a lot of first graders are more afraid of new foods and (in my experience) wouldn't talk about 'em if they thought they'd have to try them.

Oh, and I so would have known eggplant 'cause in kindergarten, we had to match our first name with a fruit or vegetable, so I was Eggplant Erika... since Berry (elderberry) was already taken by Bryce.

equa yona(Big Bear) said...

We had no back yard, but we did have a guy with a horse drawn wagon who sold fruits and veggies in the summer. (Yep, horse drawn wagon). I don't think there were frozen veggies when i was a kid; it was fresh or tinned. We ate mostly fresh. never had fresh peas for some reason, only canned. We ate lots of culiflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage etc. i would never have known eggplant.

panamamama said...

That is shocking! I know I could have as a kid but we had a little garden and my mom loves to cook. I think my kids could identify almost all, maybe not the beets, but doesn't mean they will eat them! I'm going to quiz mine with the seed catalog too now, I'm curious.

Fresh and Feisty said...

I'm pretty sure I would have known...even the eggplant since my grandfather grew them. But, I grew up rural and with hippies as friends who did a lot of gardening. A few of them still grow all their own produce. I realize now it was somewhat of a charmed childhood in so many ways.

Renee said...

My daughter is 20 months old and knows most of those, and has for a while. She may not like them, abut at least we keep trying.

Anonymous said...

I grew up (in pretty recent years) in Alaska, but my parents still made sure I saw lots of different veggies. When I was four or five, I remember my mom steaming artichokes for the family. We weren't very wealthy, so this was a bit of a treat.

Mom brought home eggplant from the local Fred Meyer, too. She learned how to prepare it properly several years later :)

We grew rhubarb in our backyard garden, mostly because the prior occupant had planted some. I ate it raw with sugar, which, looking back, is...ewwww.

I probably could have identified everything there. I only wish that every kid today could say the same.

-Arctic Belle

Billie said...

I know my stepson knows what a tomato is because he hates them and has known what they are since at least kindergarten. They know what potatoes, squash, onions, peas and carrots are. I am not sure what else they know about.

All of those veggies have come into my house and lots of times my stepdaughter has been with me when shopping but I don't know what all they have absorbed.

Angela said...

my 2.5 year old got cauliflower (which we rarely eat -- I was surprised he knew it), cabbage, corn, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, potatoes, onions, and pumpkins.

He missed celery (I never buy it because I'm allergic), tomatoes (still has problems mixing up potatoes and tomatoes, verbally), lettuce, beets, garlic, leeks, eggplant (we never buy it), and sweet potatoes.

I'm fairly impressed. I don't know what I would have gotten at 6 years old -- most of my vegetable experience was processed, canned or frozen versions of the fresh thing.

The Nurturing Pirate said...

I'm not surprised. Last year, when my friend and I were launching my business, we handed out basil seed starts at an Earth Day fair. You wouldn't believe how many people - grown adults! - had no idea what basil was!

When I'm grocery shopping, I like to send my kids on errands to go fetch produce for me. They're getting better at it. But you'd think we were in a candy store, the way my 5-year-old dd pleads to get fruits or veggies that intrigue her and aren't on my list. On a recent trip, I ended up with the following: an artichoke (bleh!), brussel sprouts, and kiwis. I will rue the day she discovers those smooth purple sponges that other people call eggplant.

She still refers to brussel sprouts as "What are those little baby cabbage things again?" BTW, she prefers them raw, rather than cooked. Crazy kid!

LatigoLiz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LatigoLiz said...

Kinda scary...

Pretty sure my 6 year old will know most of what I show him since we have a fairly large garden and Food Network is one of the main television choices here. He loves food, especially carrots, and we want to make sure he knows where his food comes from. Plus, if you ask him what he wants to be when he grows up, first thing out of his mouth, without hesitation, is “farmer.”

hekatesgal said...

I'm glad a couple of people brought up the class issue (which can still happen in rural communities because so many folks are poor) with eating. I think for food movement people we need to get away from smugness (whether perceived or real) of "oh we would NEVER eat that" etc. You probably would if you were hungry and this does not help educate people, or make them ameniable to changing their diet, which we should all want a large mass of people to do since this will create much more locally grown food, and more choices.
And I guess I'm lucky - my kids will eat just about everything. My youngest took calamari to eat for lunch at school.

Anonymous said...

Working with small kids I think there also was some not wanting to get the wrong answer. I find that if one or two kids start getting a right answer at the beginning of a discussion, more will chime in later. Start out with people getting it wrong- there it goes. When most parents are being encouraged to hide vegetables rather than just serving them, how are the kids going to learn what they are?

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