Word Muse: Eat Your Alphabet

by Tina Reeble, Education Specialist, 
Dimensions Educational Research Foundation and Nature Explore


This week’s focus of thought and introspection has been Vegetables. Such a practical change of pace from last week’s word- amazement, and is of course in keeping with one of the underlying messages from our outdoor classroom network. There is something for everyone.

Did you know that the USDA has adopted a new food guidance system called MyPlate? It’s designed to help remind Americans to eat healthy and recommends that one of the ways we can build healthy meals is to add more vegetables to our plate. Having been thinking about this, I can say that I have eaten more vegetables this past week than I usually do and without a whole lot of extra effort. Here’s to better health!

Another thing I did was write down the ABCs and try to list vegetables for each letter. This silly little exercise was fun and actually turned out to be more thoughtful than I expected. It made me realize that there is a whole lot of variety out there that I haven’t even tried. When I polled a group of co-workers the alphabetical list of vegetable choices grew. We were challenged by the letters ‘D, N, U, V, X, and Y’. Can you name a vegetable that starts with those letters off the top of your head? Finally, we resorted to a web search to complete our list. Wow – now I’m intrigued with the number of vegetables that I haven’t even heard of and can’t pronounce. There certainly isn’t a lack of options to choose from. Now, I’m even more motivated to add extra vegetables to my own plate. Maybe I’ll be adventurous and add a new vegetable along with a new word each week.

Thinking from a child’s point of view and recalling my many experiences with kiddos who ate their very first veggie because they planted the seed and nurtured the plant that grew into the vegetable their hands plucked from the vine, hands-on nutritional education helps healthy choices naturally became part of their snack and meal time. That is veggie power! A colleague, Kim Nall, Colusa Indian Community Council Child Care Center Director at Hand-in-Hand Learning Center in California, recently sent me a picture of a huge head of cauliflower that the children harvested from their winter garden. It looked so good I can almost taste it! So now I am in the planning and dreaming mode, with beautiful and inspirational seed catalogs spread out in front of me and my own children, designating a raised bed and a few pots in the backyard for veggie delight! How about you?

Our next word is Happiness.

Be bold, choose to be extraordinary, and I will see you next week.