by Miranda Beal, Volunteer Manager and Garden Educator
It feels like autumn as I am setting up One Cool Earth’s booth at San Benito Elementary’s Fall Festival and Trunk or Treat. As I arrive to set-up, I drive my car through a gate where I notice other cars setting up for the event. Unintentionally, I set up my booth in the Trunk or Treat area. If you are unaware of Trunk or Treat, it is an event where adults decorate the back of their cars for Halloween, load up on candy, and come sit in a parking lot for kids to “trick or treat” fully dressed in Halloween costumes. I am picking tomatoes, celery, and sage from the garden to hand out to families while other adults are setting up, so I don’t realize I’m set-up in the wrong spot until I come down from the garden and cannot move my car because the gates are locked for the event to start.
One Cool Earth’s main activity for the Fall Festival was hosting a pumpkin hummus taste test. Twenty minutes prior to the event, I started placing pumpkin spice dip on crackers. As I was finishing set-up, two elementary girls dressed up in their costumes came up to my table. They had their Halloween candy bags out and seemed curious about what I was working on. To them, I didn't look like a traditional Trunk or Treat. I smiled at them and started my speech, “Hi, I help at your school garden and made pumpkin spice dip out of pumpkins that grew in the garden! Would you like to taste test it and then vote on it?!” One girl responded with a sort of funny smirk and said, “Ha. No… No one is going to eat that. Haha!” And then she walked on by.
Kids say the most wicked things when they try new foods--it’s definitely not always easy to get them to try in the first place. Thankfully, with taste tests, we use delicious recipes and create an atmosphere of excitement that encourages kids to take a taste of a new healthy food.
Here’s how it works:
Despite the scary feedback from my first participants, the pumpkin hummus was an overwhelming success. Based on results from both adults and kids (but mostly the kids), we had 7% ‘try it’ without enjoying it and 93% ‘like it’ or ‘love it’. Many taste testers described it as pumpkin pie filling and were surprised when I told them the main ingredient is chickpeas.The PTA asked for the recipe, so it is now shared with San Benito to make with their families.
Taste tests have the power to get kids to try to new healthy food. One Cool Earth continues to encourage students to try the garden produce that students planted, enjoying the experience of seed to table bringing excitement to REAL food.