Birds, Bees, and Forbidden Fruit

by Anne

If you want to recharge your flower dissection, then let me recommend Barbara Kingsolver’s latest book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. Besides being beautiful and inspirational, it reminded me that fruits and flowers are so @#$*% exciting! This book cronicles one year of her family eating local food- either that they’ve grown themselves or that was grown within their county. I started reading this on the plane ride home from school last weekend and couldn’t wait to start picking apart plants with our visitors. It was a reminder of just how important the flower dissection really is. Even within a totally constructed environment, we can begin to explore the origins of our food.

The genetic diversity of the food we eat is dwindling at an alarming rate, and people are becoming less aware of it. I imagine that as people learn more about their food, the more they will start to ask questions, the more likely they will be to feel connected with the process, and possibly care about where their food comes from. Even when people begin to think about each of the fruits and vegetables they eat and wonder what part of the plant it comes from- that in itself is a great start. After that, they might start to wonder when it comes into season each year, and where it might have come from. They might also wonder where the seeds come from and what happens if you plant one. Unfortunately, the answer to that is not as straight forward as we might like it to be.

I was lucky enough to get to pinch hit for a flower dissection last week, and had an amazing time with a woman and a couple of 5th graders. Then, as usual, some kids showed up early for the cow eye dissection. Surprisingly, they took interest in the flowers and asked a lot of wonderful questions. Once they realized that the fruit they eat comes from flowers, which come from the seeds inside of the fruit, they got excited to go home and start planting seeds to see what will happen. Good for them- just try it, see what happens, wonder about it.