I had a great time in several classrooms this week, talking about the different parts of the plant that we eat. Flowers? yes. Stems? yes. Seeds? yes. And the leaves, roots, and fruit too! Here's a quick overview in case you want to quiz the kids:
- Roots (and tubers too!): This was an easy one. Most kiddos know that we eat the roots of plants. But I did have some surprises. Everyone could identify the carrot, but did you know they were originally purple, and have been bred to be orange? And the beets were one vegetable where you could eat multiple parts of the plant - you can also eat the leaves! There was some confusion between the onion, garlic and shallot, but we sorted it out. Potatoes are technically tubers, as they can propagate new plants.
- Stems: There aren't too many stems that we eat. I found 3 to bring in for show-and-tell including celery, asparagus, and rhubarb. If you're living in Iowa right now, it's asparagus and rhubarb season! I was lucky enough to get mine on Sunday right from a farmer. Farmers markets start up this weekend, and there will surely be some!
- Leaves: The group of kids that I was talking to was way more savvy than I was as a child. They knew about several types of leaves that we eat, like kale and spinach and romaine. But I did stump them with a few, including cabbage, swiss chard, and sage. Many were surprised that the cabbage is really just a bunch of leaves, layer after layer after layer. They sampled quite a few!
- Seeds: When most kids hear seeds, they think of sunflower seeds or even pumpkin seeds. I brought in some peas and corn. Surprise!
- Flowers: Yes! We eat the flower of the plant. The only three that I could come up with were broccoli, cauliflower, and artichokes. I brought roasted cauliflower into the classroom and over 90% tried it, and more than 75% of them liked it!
- Fruit: Finally! There are so many fruits that we eat. This was by and large the biggest group. For the most part, these were easy to identify. Botanically speaking, all of these are a fruit, because they contain the seed that develops from a flowering plant.
Next time you eat some produce, try and figure out what part of the plant you're eating! Enjoy!