Vegetable Kids

“Where is my neighbor that I can eat his garden?”—a question that my neighbor Nicole said her son Dylan asked her one day. Nicole and Ryan Teasley have been my neighbors for years, and I watched Dylan and Gracie grow up. Now the kids are learning to ride bikes.

The Teasleys are vegetarians, and their two kids are happier than most to eat their vegetables. Earlier in the year they had nibbled the mesclun I had in large pots, including the arugula. They were over one day recently, and as I was talking to their parents about the various herbs I have in my garden, the kids got interested in trying them. They tasted the tarragon, the rosemary, the lovage, the thyme—even the flowers of the bergamot or bee balm.

Their interest in and positive response to fresh herbs and odd salad possibilities was a good lesson that what we think of as standard children’s food prejudices isn’t a standard. Not all kids crave bologna sandwiches, or mac and cheese, although Gracie and Dylan certainly like mac and cheese.

They’re very healthy kids, so it’s also clear that meat protein is not a requirement for health. Nicole and Ryan note that they eat soy “meats” and beans for their protein. Dylan, especially, likes raw foods and is a salad fanatic.

What a pleasure to have two young children in my garden wanting to try the edible greenery. For a foodie like myself, it’s a refreshing contrast to so many local kids who wouldn’t eat anything but hot dogs and iceberg lettuce.

For an instant, as I watched them pinch off a leaf of tarragon and tell me it tastes like black licorice, I felt like maybe the next generation, whatever they call themselves, might just make this country a better place. Foodwise, at least.

Thanks, Gracie. Thanks, Dylan. You made my tarragon smile.

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