Young Cultivators Merit Badge: Know Your Food, Beginner Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,050 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,044 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! ~MaryJane 

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

For this week’s Farm Kitchen/Know Your Food Beginner Level Young Cultivator Merit Badge, I snagged Nora. No, literally. I snagged her as she wandered by on her way to the mini-mart, munching on a bag of High Fructose Corn Syrup Coco Frosted Sugar Bombs. She looked a little dazed and confused, but I attributed that to the sugar coma I just woke her up from.

“Hey, Nora!” said I, proudly showing off the biggest watermelon in my patch.

Her eyes lit up with something that resembled a sign of life. “Cool. I like watermelon. Watermelon fruit snacks, watermelon Jell-o, watermelon gum, watermelon Kool-Aid, watermelon Jolly Ranchers, watermel …“

“And, watermelon, right?”


Photo by Steve Evans via Wikimedia Commons

Her eyes went back to a blank stare.

“You know,” I pressured her into understanding, “Like a slice of watermelon? From the garden?”

She shrugged. “I like watermelon suckers, watermelon sorbet, watermelon jelly beans, watermelon salt-water taffy, watermelon licorice …“

“That’s it! Drop your snack. Right now. Here, here’s a safe place to keep it.” I handed her the trash can. “You’re about to earn a Merit Badge, kid.”

“I am?”

“You are. First up: no dessert. We’re replacing it with an unsweetened treat.”

“Uhhh, Jane, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but it isn’t a treat if it’s unsweetened. That’s like an oxymoron. You know? Like a jumbo shrimp?”

“Less talking, more detoxing. Come on, kid. We’re going to harvest some more melons and then we’re going to make ourselves a delicious treat. No sugar required.”

I could tell she was skeptical. I could tell because I practically had to drag her away from the trash, where she was staring longingly at the remains of her Processed Mystery Grain Product with Chemical Sprinkles. I tossed the lid on so she’d be less distracted and couldn’t hear its siren call, and we brought in my crop of watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew.

After only a few minutes in the kitchen, Nora was on board. She even thought that somehow, these treats tasted more melon-y than her favorite fake flavored treats. Go figure.

Here are a few unsweetened treats for your little skeptics:

USDA photo via Wikimedia Commons

Melon Kabobs (because everything tastes better on a stick)

Use a melon baller to scoop out balls of the melon of your choice. Alternating on small wooden skewers, arrange melon balls, grapes, cherries, etc. Keep in the freezer for a healthy, fun, and sweet snack. For an extra dollop of goodness, fill a Mason jar halfway with organic whipping cream. Have children take turns shaking until the cream “whips”. Then dunk your kabobs.

Fruit Salad

Have bigger kiddos practice their knife skills (remember: a dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp one) by cubing up fruit like apples, pears, and melons. Add slices of peaches, plums, kiwis, or nectarines. Toss in blueberries, strawberries, or any other berry. Squeeze on some fresh lemon juice to keep the fruit from browning. Drizzle with honey, if desired, or sprinkle with cinnamon. For a fun presentation, you can layer in large wine glasses for individual treats. Or you can hollow out a watermelon rind to use as a bowl!

Peanut Butter Surprise Apples

Slice one large apple in half. Scoop out the seeds and core, using a spoon. Fill hole with peanut butter. Eat one half, and share the other with a friend. Or put back together and eat like a regular apple.


  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I can’t figure out why kids love the artificial melon flavors in candy. They are so gross to me! Give me real fruit any day. Real fruits offer such an array of flavors and colors to appeal to many who are willing to give them a try. The snack Carrie made last May for your Young Cultivators meeting was especially creative. She had cored circular apple slices topped with peanut butter and blueberries. They were so inviting looking and the girls seemed quite happy to munch them down without question. Yum!

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