A Winter Borscht Tale: “I just had to find out”

A boy and a girl using a peeler to cut carrots

Written by Lindsay Williams, one of our AmeriCorps Food Educators

“Cabbage!”  “Carrots!” “Garlic!”  “Onion!” “Salt and pepper!”  “Olive oil!” “Lemon!” “Beets!”

These were the sounds of students joyfully shouting out the ingredients of borscht pictured on a PowerPoint slide.

As his classmates discussed which of these ingredients they had tried before, one fourth grader raised his hand to get my attention.  “Um, I don’t like beets,” he shared with hesitation. An invitation to try an adventure bite seemed to satisfy him for the moment, and after a thorough hand washing, the classroom became a flurry of activity as each table set to their assigned tasks.  

Beets chopped, onions and garlic minced, cabbage shredded, and carrots cut! While the borscht simmered, kids discussed the relationship between the colors of fruits and vegetables and nutrition.  These discussions included pairing colors with specific nutritional benefits, examining the differences between artificial color and natural color, and setting goals for eating a variety of natural colors every day.  Some students created maps of the body with colors corresponding with body parts, while others drew their favorite fruit or vegetable to add to a schoolwide art project.

Rainbow veggiesAfter learning about the benefits of eating many colors, students peered into their sample cups of borscht, amazed that a soup with orange, green, red/purple, and white ingredients turned out pink.  While I was making borscht with kindergarteners, the principal came to our classroom, exclaiming “I just had to find out what class got to make this delicious snack!” Once everyone had their cup, we said together, “Bon appetit, it’s time to eat!” – and students tasted their first bites.  Almost immediately, they start raving about how good it was and how they would give it 10,000 thumbs up.

And what about the student who didn’t like beets?  I asked if he thought beets were okay as he was slurpring his sample.  With a gentle nod, he let me know that his opinion–at least of beets in borscht–had improved.  Sometimes, you just have to find out what you like by giving colors a try!