From apples to zebra tomatoes | TheUnion.com

From apples to zebra tomatoes

Submitted to The Union

This year, Sierra Harvest's Farm to School program is celebrating 10 years of tastings, and over 50,000 pounds of local produce.

From jicama to kumquats, purple cauliflower to kiwis, thousands of Nevada County students and adults alike have munched their way through 50 different local and seasonal favorites over the years. After trying so many new foods, local students averaged a 43 percent increase in liking the items sampled through the Harvest of the Month program.

Sierra Harvest has found that even picky eaters will often try vegetables at school if they see other kids trying them. A parent recently reported, "I want you to know I have been trying to get my son to eat celery for years. He said someone at school gave him celery at the Harvest of the Month tasting. For the first time last night he asked me for celery with peanut butter on it because he tried it at school. This project you have going is making the kids want to try vegetables. It probably is a life-changer for kids in their future because they want to start trying other things while they're so young."

One of the major supporters of Farm to School has been the BriarPatch Food Co-op. Located in Grass Valley, BriarPatch is a cooperatively-owned grocery store that has been a pillar of this community for over 40 years now. During the 2018-19 school year, BriarPatch has sponsored all the produce for the Harvest of the Month program.

Currently providing monthly tastings to 33 schools and other institutions such as Dignity Health, and Cascade Senior Living, the Harvest of the Month is not just for kids anymore. If you shop at BriarPatch you can now learn more about the program there, too. Just look up in the produce section, where this month's item is proudly featured. February's seasonal pick is crunchy carrots from Full Belly Farm.

Here's what students are saying about the Harvest of the Month:

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"We decided that persimmons are better than fruit snacks."

"It makes the room smell good. Can I have seconds? It tastes like mind-blowing achievement!"

"The best thing in the world! So scrumptious."

"They're crunchy and a little juicy on the inside! They taste different! They taste so good and I love them! Carrots are my favorite food! We should make carrot juice sometime."

"Does my breath smell like broccoli?"

It has been said that it takes trying a new item over 10 times to know if you like it or not, plus your taste buds change every 10 days as well. This past year, 72 percent of students tried something new through Harvest of the Month. Thanks to the this program, community members of all ages are getting a chance to taste the best local produce available. It might not be for the 10th time, but every bite counts.

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