Worm In Your Apple? Yum.

“Don’t eat anything incapable of rotting.”
― Michael PollanIn Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

The other day, I taught a lesson to twenty fourth graders on natural sweet snacks. We sampled fruit and they had to try each piece and give their opinions of it. It was quite an entertaining lesson for me to watch them ooh, aah and eww over each and every piece.

Perhaps the most enlightening part of the lesson though was their reaction to the pears. They were perfectly ripe Bartlett pears, which if you now anything about them, you know perfectly ripe isn’t always pretty. These particular ones were pretty banged up looking and soft so while they looked funny, I knew they’d be delicious. I was certain, as soon as I bought the pears, what the reaction of the students would be, but I thought it provided what we love to call in education, “a teachable moment”.

Sure enough, they rolled through the shiny apples without a single complaint. Even the ones who didn’t like the Granny Smiths (“Ugh, Mrs. King that’s disgustin'”) were at least willing to try them. But as soon as I brought out my brownish pears they collectively gasped and refused to open their mouths.

So then we chatted about what they thought was safer, a fruit that can rot or a fruit that is shiny on their counter for weeks on end. I explained that pears brown as they ripen and that they would just have to trust me that these puppies would be sweet and juicy.

They needed a bit more convincing. So we talked about the kids who had eaten mango right off a tree in their parents’ country and how those mangoes tasted so different from the ones they got at the Asbury grocery store. They started to come around so that they all at least agreed to try one bite as long as I promised the could spit it right out.

Wouldn’t you know, 19 out of 20 were shocked at how delicious the pear was and they came back for seconds, thirds and more. The one kid who hated it, well he hated most everything we tried that day but he did agree it didn’t taste like “poison” (don’t want to know how he knows what that tastes like) which is what he suspected when he saw the ripe fruit.

This lesson was a reminder to me that we have to retrain ourselve about food. What we used to think was gross or dirty is actually nature the way it was intended to be used. Fruit that spoils is exactly the fruit you want to eat. Fruit with bugs means fruit without a pesticide overcoat. It’s not dirty. Quite the opposite actually is true.

Which would you rather have for nourishment? An apple that is attractive to worms or one soaked in Round Up?

You decide what’s clean. I think you already know.

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