By Jody Fuller
Recently, I spoke to a group of very young children about bullying and acceptance. Both are important subjects, but in hindsight, I wish I’d included the importance of eating vegetables. Kids simply do not eat enough of them, particularly green ones. I didn’t eat vegetables when I was their age. In fact, I didn’t start eating them until about a year and a half ago. I missed out on so much. What was I thinking?
A few years ago, an older gentleman seemed genuinely upset at my eating habits.
“You don’t like corn on the cob?” he asked in disbelief.
“I don’t like corn on the plate,” I replied. “I don’t care what you put it on. I ain’t eating it.”
Once, while I was still in the single digits, my mother bribed me in to taking a bite of creamed corn. I took one bite and gagged like never before. At the time, it seemed like a form of child abuse. I was a dollar richer, though.
Growing up, the only vegetables I liked were French fries, hash browns, tater tots, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, and, well, you get the picture. I did, however, like lima beans, which was odd, because, to this day, I know many vegetable lovers who detest them. Oh, I liked macaroni and cheese, too. It is, after all, considered a vegetable here in Alabama. Everybody knows that.
My grandparents always had a garden at their home in Tallapoosa County. My grandmother took care of me at the table. Due to my pickiness, she cooked special side dishes solely for me. For example, if she made potato salad, she’d save a small bowl of plain potatoes for me. My dad showed no such special treatment and made me eat everything on my plate, but he was blind, and I was, well, mischievous. The dogs, trashcans, and potted plants ate better than some people I know.
About once a decade, I would try something new and much to my delight, would enjoy it. Grilled Asparagus has been a favorite vegetable for several years. When I was a kid, the only green things I liked were the aforementioned lima beans, green Jello, and Kermit the Frog. It ain’t easy being green.
Today, I eat everything: green, yellow, red, orange, and purple. Color means nothing. It makes no sense to like or dislike anything based on color. That’s just ignorant. Broccoli is one of my favorite things to eat, and I’ve never even had it with cheese. Green is good.
Legendary funnyman Jerry Clower was a big fan of slimy, green okra or as we say around here, “okry.” I’m a fan of green and okra but can do without the slimy aspect. I like it raw, pickled, and grilled, but my favorite is baked fried okra. It looks fried but it’s really baked. In my opinion, olive oil is the key to cooking vegetables, be it on the grill or in the oven. Another key is to leave it somewhat crunchy. I don’t want it mushy or slimy, with all due respect to the late funnyman from Liberty, Miss.
In recent months, I’ve made it a habit to purchase fruits and vegetables from roadside stands and farmers markets while at home and on the road. When we buy from these stands and markets, we are not only getting the freshest available produce, but we are also supporting local farmers with a different kind of green, and it’s still good. That’s a win-win situation if there ever was one.
Next year, I plan on planting a garden filled with lots of green things. I may even plant some corn, too, because, these days, I like it on the plate and on the cob but mostly in my stomach.
Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, please visit www.jodyfuller.com.