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 I believe that we, as human beings, are life-long learners and explorers. Experimentation with new foods is an uncommon adventure that young people take but one that we can work to change in places like the cafeteria and in the classroom.

Clarke Middle School students have the privilege of cooking in their Food and Consumer Sciences classroom. The instructor insists on cooking with one grade each week. They use all of the common utensils and applicances that are found in a home expect the food may be more special than what you find in a home refrigerator. The school garden plot provides produce and herbs for these cooking lab lessons in both the FCS classroom and in the Agricultural Sciences cooking labs.

Students enjoy going through the motions of cooking; sometimes heckling over tasks and sharing work loads as well- No one likes getting stuck with all of the dishes! I enjoy watching them slice the kale, collards and swiss chard for their frittata and deciding as a team how much vanilla to add to their pancake mix. For some of them this is their first time using a knife or a hot pan. It’s a special event to be apart of and the action of cooking with a child has humbled me.

I am thankful, more than ever, to have grown up in a household that encouraged child involvement with cooking and chores. My confidence in the kitchen is much higher than others my age and to see the confidence build in a middle school student gives me perspective. But I remember when I tried to make macaroni and cheese in the microwave with a metal pot, at age 12, and I didn’t let the small fire I started stop me!

Shout out to all of the guardians and parents who teach their children basic cooking skills. Shout out to the teachers and mentors who encourage healthy eating to their students. Shout out to the students who WANT to cook healthy and share their knowledge and the young people who are willing to try something new!

My hope is that the memories made in the kitchen will stick. I fantastize about the day when a Clarke Middle School student encourages their family to purchase spinach instead of iceberg lettuce. I look forward to a time when millennials are sharing their knowledge with their parents and family to begin a community garden. Teach a child to plant and they will feed themselves and their loved ones.

This writing may be a bit more scattered than normal (so sorry) but I felt compelled to share my thoughts today. If you garden with your children or you are a gardener yourself please share your thoughts with me!