Tasty Tuesday Project

Pi Beta Phi students taste exotic fruit
Mar. 07, 2013 @ 12:09 AM

As part of National Nutrition Month, kindergarten and second-grade students at Pi Beta Phi Elementary School will participate in a fruit or vegetable tasting each Tuesday in March, as part of an effort to encourage students make healthier eating choices.

The Tasty Tuesday Project, sponsored in part by the UT Extension Office, Food City and Sevier County Master Gardeners, exposes children to less common fruits and vegetables, with the hope that bringing the foods to the classroom may give students a chance to try something they might not have tried otherwise.

"Kids are more apt to try things if their buddies are trying them," said Linda Hyder of the UT Extension Office. "So we're just trying to encourage that and hope they take the message home."

The first Tuesday's featured food was kiwi, which, according to Hyder, was probably the favorite tasting last year at Catlettsburg Elementary School.

"This is just our second year of the program, but last year was very successful," Hyder said.

Once each child received a sample, Hyder encouraged them to describe how the kiwi looked. They noted, astutely, that it was green, with a white center, black seeds and brown skin.

Then the students were allowed to take off the lids of the containers and smell the kiwi, which elicited a wider range of reactions, some jumping back and covering their noses. The fruit smelled variously like grapes, bananas and apples, according to the students.

Next, they felt the kiwi. Everyone agreed that the kiwi was wet.

Hyder called on Larry Collins, produce manager at Food City, to demonstrate how to eat the kiwi. He said they could either eat the slice whole, skin and all, or break the piece in one spot and eat it like an orange slice.

The children were cautious. Most looked over to a table at the right side of the room, where one or two known daredevils may have sat. But even those children elected to taste the kiwi with the tip of their tongues first.

"See what you think," Hyder said. "Just take a taste and see. You don't have to eat the whole thing."

"It's good!" was soon heard from every seat in the classroom. Hyder asked how many liked it, and a hand from every student in the room shot up.

"Can we have more?" they asked.

"We're not having another one today, but next week we're having something new," Hyder said. "For every week, we're going to have something different for you to taste.

"It may be a fruit, it may be a vegetable, it may be purple, it may be red, it may be green. They're all different colors and they're all good for you."

Baby spinach and red cabbage will be offered March 12; grapefruit and pineapple March 19; and yellow squash and English cucumber (with ranch dressing) March 26. Each tasting also comes with a lesson on the particular food's health benefits.

rhargett@themountainpress.com