What do lima beans and eggplant have in common? The inch-long beans and oddly shaped, spongy purple veggies that most adults do not have the pallet to enjoy are garden student favorites, with zero students refusing to eat them and most asking for second and third servings.
When cooked up "mexican food style" with onions, Hawaiian salt, pepper, and a bit of cheese, lima beans are a garden student favorite. This week, I stewed-up beans prior to class. I lead students in harvesting lettuce, kale, and spinach leaves and making guacamole. We cut-up banana leaves to use as plates and served the array of yummy garden leaves family-style on cutting boards in the middle of the table. Beans and guacamole were spooned onto leaf plates so students could load up fresh lettuce with burrito ingredients to make "green tacos" that had students forgetting there was no tortillas or chips involved.
In third and fourth grade classes, eggplant was harvested fresh from the garden. We diced garlic for saute in olive oil and added sliced eggplant on top of the browning garlic. Each slice of eggplant was barely sprinkled with salt to remove that eggplant bitter taste and fried to golden perfection. We added about three shreds of cheese on top of each slice and sprinkled the entire pan with chopped chives. After letting the cheese melt, eggplant slices were served on banana leaf plates and gobbled up by intrigued garden students. To my shock, no student refused to eat eggplant! Most were delighted; only one or two per class was not completely enchanted by eggplant.
When asked why using banana leaf plates helps human survival, students revealed all kinds of intriguing connections. "We can just feed our FBI when we are pau." "Cutting off that leaf helps the tree make new leaves and then we get more fresh air." "We didn't have to go to the store."
Sometimes the simple things in life - spinach picked 10 minutes before becoming taco shells, fresh lettuce, eggplant toasted to perfection, green plates - are our greatest teachers.
Krista Joan says:
My mission is to teach, train, and testify in resistance to the white supremacy of my ancestors. My personal choices are political, powerful, and practical. Let's trash waste.