Mom: Eat your exotic vegetables!
What is the strangest food you have ever eaten?
For those of us in the Midwest, the answer might be lutefisk.
It has always amazed me that hundreds of folks will stand in line to eat this lye-soaked fish.
Or maybe you have gone to a wild game feed sometime and sampled elk, raccoon, turtle or even that tasty delicacy, Rocky Mountain oysters.
As we all know, they are not oysters, but bull testicles.
I have often wondered who first thought of frying these things up and eating them. He must have been related to the guy who first thought that if you took this really ugly looking lobster creature, boiled it and cracked it open, it would be delicious.
I have tried a lot of fairly odd food.
Octopus? You bet. Rattlesnake. Of course. Raw oysters? Love them.
While I am certainly not like that guy on television who travels the world and tries different and really strange foods, I have sampled my share, and enjoyed most of them.
On a recent trip to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, I was able to enjoy razor clams again, one of my favorites.
When the tide goes out, we can walk the sand flats and dig these up.
They resemble an old-style straight razor, folded up in its case.
They are easy to break apart, pull out and pop in your mouth, raw, right on the beach, for a tasty treat.
They are a sweet clam meat with a hint of sea salt.
No, they don’t taste like chicken.
Most folks can tell you a tale of something strange they have eaten somewhere, sometime.
But, I had never really considered cauliflower and broccoli as exotic food items. When I grew up they were vegetables we often ate, and I still do.
But, for many in the Midwest, the staple was roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy and corn.
If you wanted to mix it up and be wild, you had peas instead of corn.
Blue Earth Area school board chairman Frankie Bly says in his house, cauliflower and broccoli were considered exotic vegetables.
To some kids they still are.
Last year the BEA school district received a grant to implement a healthy foods program at the elementary schools in both Winnebago and Blue Earth.
Staff reported that many kids had never had those two ‘exotic’ vegetables (cauliflower and broccoli) and discovered they really liked them.
Same thing for fruits. Instead of just apples and oranges, the kids were introduced to items such as kiwi and mangoes.
This year, the school reapplied for the grant, but only received it for the Winnebago school building and not the school in Blue Earth.
It all has to do with the number of students who take part in the free and reduced meal program in the school. Put together, the two schools qualify. But, they had to be separated this year in the grant application and only the Winnebago site was eligible.
The BEA school board immediately and without much hesitation, decided that if the program was going to be in one school building, it should be in both. Even if that meant they had to fund it themselves.
They all agreed this was a worthwhile program that shouldn’t go away, and was important for raising healthy kids.
They quickly passed a unanimous motion to fund the healthy foods program in the Blue Earth Elementary and Middle Schools.
Many boards say they want to do what is best for the students, but when it comes right down to it, they might not be willing to spend the money to do it.
The BEA board deserves a lot of credit for stepping up to the plate and doing the right thing, even it might cost as much as $18,000 out of the food service budget.
For a change, this budget has a large surplus in it, so the school budget should not be dented too bad. No general fund monies will be affected.
From all reports, this is one program that took a while to be embraced, but then was a big hit with students.
Who knows, maybe this year the students will be introduced to romanscu (an exotic vegetable similar to broccoli and cauliflower) or dragon fruit (tastes like kiwi).
At any rate, having kids able to learn in school that healthful eating of fruits and vegetables in this world of fast food burgers and fries is definitely a good thing.
Then they can go home and tell Mom and Dad they would like broccoli instead of corn tonight.