Children’s Health Empowered By Growing Your Own Food

The Pizza Bed

Regenerating Children’s Health By Growing Your Own Food And Regenerating A Culture Connected to The Soil

Our kids are fat. I know that’s a shocking way to say it, and with a little license to be politically incorrect, it’s probably accurate. Sadly. And as for adults, the majority isn’t any better off.

But it gets worse, not only are we unhealthy, too sedentary, and dependent on nutritionally devoid convenience food, but we have failed to pass on the most simple and basic knowledge to the younger generations.

How to grow our own food. Most kids today wouldn’t recognize food in a garden.

I remember the party that would ensue at my Grandparent’s house during the harvest months when I was a kid. 

Uncle Jimmy, not my real uncle, he was my Grandfather’s best friend. Uncle Jimmy had the best green beans and peppers in town. And everybody knew it. It was a treat to see him shuffling up to the house with a sack over his shoulder and a wide-eyed grin. As kids, we were lucky when he would let us into his world. When he would let us into his garden and watch him work, or help him water. It was his sacred space that was usually off limits. But if we nagged him enough, and sold him on the proposition of how much help we would be, he would sometimes, “let us in.”

After critiquing our technique and lack of species recognition, he would start talking. And then he wouldn’t shut up. All gold though. Since we are talking about our children’s health, and health in general, let’s be clear, these folks weren’t the epitome of “healthy” by any means. Most of the characters in this childhood memory sported cheeks stained with chewing tobacco, chain-smoked cigarettes, and had sugar laced coffee before bed and whiskey before breakfast.

Thank goodness they were eating garden produce!

It’s not like that anymore for the majority of kids – the garden produce part. It’s a sad state of affairs for our children these days. In some ways, we have it much better today than a few generations ago; however, not all is cherries – or fruits and vegetables.

It’s a serious matter for sure, but we have the power to make a difference. And I’m not being trite. Seriously. Listen to this great idea I overheard while conversing with a local schoolteacher who is dedicated to finding creative ways to bring healthy food to children. A teacher committed to engaging children with gardening and the process of growing and tending their own healthy food.

The Pizza Bed

The pizza bed is a great way to engage children once again in the process of cultivating and ultimately, consuming, healthy homegrown food. 

Pick one bed in your garden, or a section of a bed, and claim it for the sole purpose of growing ingredients for a pizza. You know, a pepperoni plant and a pizza crust tree. Yeah I know, we can’t grow all of the ingredients, but that’s not the whole point.

The point is that kids love pizza. Kids will eat pizza. Kids, at least my kids, don’t always like homemade pizza better than the local delivery, but they almost always like homemade better when they get to help make it. When they get to smear the sauce and add the herbs and toppings. Kids eat food that they have prepared, and even more so, food they have grown.

It seems to be a universal child’s passion to get excited about growing, harvesting, preparing, and eating food. The same dish prepared by me, or any other loving nurturing adult might get noses turned up. But when the children are directly involved, chances are you’ll have a winner – and clean plates.

Just growing the herbs to add to the sauce brings kids back to the joy of getting their hands in the soil, and passes along the wisdom of being connected to our food. Of course, it’s not limited to pizza. Kids just seem to like pizza. Pesto, salsa, herbs for lasagna, even the simplicity of a kale chip serves up some magic of engaging children.

So, pick a spot in your garden. Pull an “Uncle Jimmy” and entice some neighborhood kids. “Let ’em in” so to speak. And make a feast of it.

Know that by having fun, and celebrating, and tending relationships across generations, you are helping change the tide. You will be regenerating both children’s health and a culture connected to the soil – for generations to come.

Maybe one day we won’t have to see memes and statistics like this anymore.

“56 percent of Colorado adults and 26.5 percent of Colorado kids are overweight or obese. If these trends continue, 45 percent of Colorado adults will be obese in 2030.”

Imagine Colorado

All right, enough screen – back to the garden! And grab a kid as you go.

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Growing Spaces
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  • So true. We in Canada are catching up real fast to the US for obesity. You called a spade a spade…can’t candy coat what it is. Good on you.

  • Thanks Growing Spaces for an article about kids, gardening, and a connection to the earth and healthy food. I saw a suggestion last week to plant a garden over the Memorial Day Weekend with your kids!
    So……my grandkids and I are starting the “Kid Garden” today and will have plants in by tomorrow and Boy! are they excited. I started gardening as a kid when I was about 10 yrs. old planting onion sets and radishes.
    I’ll be covering the plants for awhile here in Pagosa Springs, but look forward to some great healthy meals with the grandkids!

  • Our grandchildren are totally involved in the family gardens, and I am so grateful for this, as they are consistently learning the goodness of fresh organic food!

  • I would love to grow our own food in a garden. However, we live in the city and we don’t have a place to grow them so we depend on crops and vegetables from the local market.

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