Comparing Apples with Apples by Naomi Rayner, TastEd volunteerwpmanager
Our neighbour knocked on the door the other day with a bag of freshly picked apples.
In an uncharacteristically tactful moment, my daughter said, “My big brother doesn’t usually like apples, but he loves the ones from your tree.”
It reminded me that something we often see at TastEd is how children who are only exposed to one version of a food – and don’t think they like it – can discover that in fact when prepared differently or presented as a different variety, it’s enjoyable. My youngest won’t eat big tomatoes. They are too squirty when whole and too slimy when sliced. But he will pop the baby variety into his mouth until he’s finished the punnet.
At Washingborough Academy in Lincolnshire, head teacher Jason O’Rourke (one of the co founders of TastEd) grows twenty two varieties of apple. Washingborough teachers find that children are often surprised to discover that not all apples look or taste alike.
A core aim of TastEd is to widen the palate and challenge fear of the unfamiliar. We give schoolchildren these opportunities again and again in our lessons, whether it’s trying a varied selection of citrus fruit or apples, comparing raw carrots and peas to cooked ones, or chewing strong peppery basil before combining it with the ingredients to make a more balanced salad. We have found that starting every lesson with the golden rule “No one has to try. No one has to like” means that children are in fact far more likely to give it a go, even if the ‘trying’ is just a lick.
They don’t always like it of course, but it’s a start. They think about why not, and present us with articulate, interesting reasons for their decisions, not just a ‘yuck’. Most importantly, they feel proud that they gave it a go, and TastEd continues to break down barriers around trying fruit and vegetables.