Rootin’ Tootin’ Merit Badge, Beginner Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 6,346 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—9,010 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life   

For this week’s Garden Gate/Rootin’ Tootin’ Beginner Level Merit Badge, I have to admit a deep, dark secret.

I’ve never told anyone this. But if there’s ever a safe environment for the soul cleansing act of confession, the Farmgirl Sisterhood is it, right?

Okay. Here I go.

I’m not entirely certain what a root vegetable is.

There. I said it. I feel so much better now! What a weight, and has it ever been lifted. I tell you what, carrying that burden around was no fun. The shame that came over me when I read a recipe from my great-grandmother that started out with words like, sauté root vegetables of choice in a pan … The way I kept mum when anyone mentioned their ‘root cellars …’

Well, no longer. I am in the know now, chickadees. Just ask me—no really, ask me what they are and I’ll be happy to enlighten you. Why, would you like your answers alphabetical or grouped in taste? Happy to oblige, gals. First of all, a root vegetable is an edible portion of a veggie that grows underground (nod sagely if you already knew that).

Here are some of the most well-known, in no particular order (They’re a competitive bunch, and I love them all dearly. I’d hate to bruise any tender feelings.):

Sweet potatoes
Jerusalem Artichokes
Water Chestnuts
Celeriac Root

There are just a few of these delightful root veggies for your palate. Now, I’ll admit, root veggies are a bit … well, dirty and not the most handsome in the grocery store. They’re bulbous and tough looking, and let’s face it: if a brown, slightly hairy, and downright ugly celery root was sitting next to a shiny, red Pink Lady apple, which would you choose?

Well, I’m about to change your mind! Apple, schmapple, girlfriend. Roots are where it’s at.


Did you know about the health benefits of root vegetables? These little unassuming and frankly disagreeable looking things are holding all sorts of nutrition and yumminess inside their squat little bodies, and part of the fascinating reason is because they’re grown underground and soaking up all the rich soil. Cool beans, huh? Another reason to love them is how long they’ll keep, patiently waiting in the root cellar (Ah ha! Light bulb moment for moi.) until you decide to consume them. We’re talking months. They really are the most easy-going and long-suffering of the vegetable family. (Bagged lettuce, I’m looking at you and your disagreeable way of going all slimy on me in a mere day or two. Talk about persnickety.)

Now that I knew what I was after, I headed off to the grocery store to see which tubers they carried, and where they were grown. I side-stepped past the cheerful oranges, the beautiful rainbow chard, and the show-offy purple cabbage, and I totally ignored the beck and call of the polished Granny Smiths. It was like a beauty pageant in there, and I had never noticed. I went straight for my newfound friends and loaded up my basket.

Next to come? An Intermediate Level badge, naturally, and a full tummy to boot.


  1. Karlyne says:

    I’m with ya on all of them, except cooked turnips. And rutabagas, in spite of their fun name!

  2. Try this creole take on the french recipe for Celeriac Remoulade. It was a favorite of my chef step-father.

    I like Julia Child’s recipe (as did my stepfather , better but couldn’t find it.

    elegant , crunchy and refreshing, you will never treat root veggies the same after this.

  3. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Recent years has me trying and enjoying new root veggies . I love almost all of your list and a few more. Fruits and veggies are my favorite go to foods when mixed with various grains these days. Always yummy!

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