My partner and I struggled to haul the four produce stuffed bags up to our second level apartment. By the time we reached the door, we were lightly panting but our discomfort was soon replaced by gratitude and excitement about the meal we were going to prepare. We rolled up our sleeves and went to work! I began to pick the collard greens while he shucked six ears of corn. I placed the greens in a large pot with some water, but not too much. Then came the garlic, olive oil and red skin potatoes. As I mixed the ingredients, I looked up at my partner, still having a hard time shucking the corn and I chuckled. He looked up at me, surprised at my laughter and a little embarrassed. His embarrassment was short lived. He shrugged then joined me in laughter.
Like me, prior to his involvement in the Fresh Stop, his exposure to fresh food was limited. Processed foods and microwaves dominated our childhood kitchens. Our tongues were once dyed red from our consumption of Kool-Aid and Gatorade. Our tiny finger tips were sticky from sugary “treats” and vegetables, as far as we knew, came from cans. Yes, there was an abundance of “food,” but how we wish our parents knew then what we know now. We have come a mighty long way.
Every Monday I am reminded of these childhood experiences because of our newest project, Veggie Rx, where families learn about healthy lifestyle choices with one another. Together we engage in physical activity, food justice classes and hands on cooking classes. Most of the families’ stories are mirror images of my childhood. The greatest difference is that these families are actively seeking and sharing knowledge about food. They understand the importance of introducing healthy lifestyle choices to their children while they are young so that they do not encounter health problems in the future. Witnessing them learn with their children is a powerful sight.
One of my favorite moments was when a five year old boy looked up at Andre Barbour, our main farmer, and said, “Can you please grow some broccoli and carrots?!” Andre could not help but laugh and agreed. This child not only likes vegetables but he now knows the man who plants, cultivates and picks the food that fills his plate. This is the beginning of a bright future.
*Veggie Rx is still accepting participants and volunteers. For more information please contact New Roots, Inc. at 502-509-6770