Young Cultivator Merit Badge: Know Your Food, Intermediate Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,504 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,886 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 Farm Kitchen/Know Your Food Intermediate Level Young Cultivator Merit Badge, Nora decided to educate the rest of her family on her newfound knowledge of … drumroll please …


Yes, once little Nora realized plain ol’ fruit was pretty plain delicious all on its own, she had forgone most of her sweet treats in favor of a juicy kiwi, or a bowl of peaches and cream, or some sun-ripened strawberries.

Photo by Nino Barbieri via Wikimedia Commons

She was even starting to come out of her sugar-induced coma. I swear I saw a twinkle in her eyes I had never seen before as she bit into an Anjou pear. It was a miracle.

To earn her Intermediate Level badge though, she had to share her knowledge.

In retrospect, I probably should have supervised this part a little more. Sharing what you love and don’t love about food at the dinner table, with over-tired parents and whiney siblings and the like can be a recipe for disaster. Note to self: Janey, my dear, when you have offspring of your very own, fruity looms, remember this.

Nora had been a sport about trying new fruits and veggies. We had a blast at the farmer’s market and grocery store, picking out new things. She even went totally overboard: she only needed to do one new item per week, but she was averaging one per day. The girl was becoming addicted to it. I wasn’t sure if her mom was going to thank me, or kill me.

Photo by Daderot via Wikimedia Commons

My Final Decisions and List of New Food
By Nora

The Good:

  • Kiwis
  • Cantaloupe
  • Persimmon (but only under ripe, then they get gross)
  • Plantains
  • Starfruit
  • Sweet Potatoes (made into fries only)
  • Purple Cauliflower
  • Radishes
  • Pomegranates
  • Jicama

The Bad:

  • Sweet Potatoes that aren’t in the shape of fries
  • Raisins
  • Dragonfruit
  • Squash
  • Lima Beans
  • Arugula

The Ugly:

  • Beets (until you slice ‘em, then kinda pretty)
  • Raisins (should be illegal)
  • Turnips (yuck)
  • Bean Sprouts (scary, alien-looking things)
  • Ugly Fruit (No, really! It’s a thing! A form of a tangelo!)

Since no mom wants a report card after dinner, I took it upon myself to keep the list at my house. All in all, we tried lots of new stuff, and Nora enjoyed more than she spit out. Tastefully. Into a napkin.

We also learned that taste buds change over the years (they literally wear out like an old pair of socks), approximately every seven years to be precise. So though Nora may hate arugula now, she might eat it up cheerfully as a 20-year-old. (She is skeptical.)

Time will tell.

P.S. Jane here. Still waiting for my taste buds to accept asparagus. Maybe if I bury it in Hollandaise sauce? You know, for my health?

  1. Barbara Criss says:

    Fruits and vegetables are my favorite foods. I can’t think of any that I don’t like. We all need to have healthy diets. America has so much healthy food and it makes me sad that a lot of people would rather eat junk food. We should all realize how wonderful it is to have such a large selection of food at all times of the year and learn to eat the right foods and enjoy them.

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    It seems universal that some fruits and veggies are found to bet “yucky” by many kids. Why, I am not sure, but thankfully, many of these old ideas melt as the ages add on. That is one good thing about growing old!

  3. Joan Hendrix says:

    Speaking from my own childhood, most veggies were deemed awful because I only ever had the canned or boiled-to-death versions. I never knew why the peas in my TV dinner were so different than the canned version. Duh! I’ve learned to love Brussels sprouts when they are oven roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper. In fact almost every veg is delicious when roasted or grilled. No water involved!

  4. Lisa Von Saunder says:

    Oh my Mary Jane, you don’t like asparagus, the ultimate spring food to wait impatiently for ? Have you ever tried the stuff straight from the ground, not from a supermarket where it probably imported from Mexico, replete with pesticides?

    Try slow roasting the little spears, ( early spring ones the size of pencils are best ) with some olive oil drizzled over them , until they are browned a bit. Just heaven!

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