By: Josh Rutledge, Cooking Light Art/Production Assistant
I’m picky when it comes to fruits and vegetables, and it's probably the result of my childhood. I quickly learned that fruits and vegetables are just a (temporary) pain that comes before a reward.
“Did you eat your carrots?”
“Here’s a cookie.”
As an adult, I’m convinced my aversion to fruits and vegetables still stems from childhood. Generally, I eat fruits and vegetables because I should eat them. I’ve simply replaced the cookie with the knowledge that a carrot will provide certain health benefits to me. That’s the new reward.
So when Cooking Light tells me to eat more fruits and vegetables every day, I instinctively start wondering about the reward. Eating three more servings of fruits and vegetables is worth it because I’ll get that many more vitamins, nutrients, etc. But I know the motivation will no doubt wane in a few months, and I’ll probably go back to eating fewer servings.
My problem? I need to be willing to stretch my thinking and my taste buds. Right now, if I don’t like the taste of cucumbers, then my gut tells me that’s the end of the matter. If you want to eat them, then by all means, go eat them — just leave me out of it.
One helpful step I've taken in combatting this is to simply get closer to the fruits and vegetables.
Last fall, I went to a farmer’s market, and I had a long conversation with a man about his string beans. He told me it had not been a good harvest this year. But last year? My goodness, last year had been wonderful, he said. That night, I prepared the beans. I loved them.
For me, the taste had been altered because of the story behind it. I know if someone had just walked up to me and handed me a string bean in the local grocery store, I would not have enjoyed it. Of course I can’t get all my food like that. But the experience encouraged me to keep pushing myself.
For example, before last year, I had never had a pomegranate. I’ve had pomegranate juice. But I had never taken a bite out of a fresh pomegranate. And the verdict? It’s heavenly. Instantly it became my favorite fruit – for reasons that go beyond taste. It’s an absolute mess. You can’t just take a bite and walk away. You have to work at it. It’s fun; it's raw.
As a result, I’ve started eating pomegranates on a regular basis. That’s a small step, but it shows me that it’s possible to get to the point where I’m eating a fruit because I enjoy it. It has nothing to do with the fact that pomegranates are loaded with antioxidants. It has everything to do with the fact that I really, truly enjoy it.