What do you get when you put sixteen little children, red juicy apples, a couple of really really funny songs and a story in a room?
Giggles, grins, sparkling eyes that go wide, crunching and munching,millions of questions, amusing tales and a lot of fun.
This and more was exactly what I took back home with me from the Apple Workshop that I put together for the little ones as part of my Food Revolution Diaries (The workshop was for the children between the ages of 3-7 and was free for everyone who wanted to attend).
Last Wednesday a couple of us gathered for a story telling session.
That evening began like a lot of stories do; once upon a time. Only this time the protagonist was a tiny apple seed and it was R-E-A-L-LY long time ago. It was the story of the first apple seed on the earth.
As the evening progressed the rain fairies and the sun fairies also visited us so that the apple seed could grow into a beautiful and big apple tree with red, round and mouth-watering apples. The children sat on the floor cross legged, all eyes on me, eyes that clearly had many questions and eyes that grew wide each time the apple seed grew.
A tiny worm also wiggled out to help. It made the earth soft for the seed to break free. But the apple seed was still asleep.
Then two chirpy birds came and whispered “wakey wakey” into the apple seed’s ear and the apple seed kind of heard them. She rubbed her eyes, opened one eye just a tiny bit and then the other, stretched her arms and whoosh got out of “bed”. The children smiled and laughed for that is how “we get up each morning when mum/dad wakes us up to get ready for school”.
The apple seed began to grow from a seed to young sapling to a tree full of blossoms. Just like my engrossed audience had become “big and tall from the babies we were some years back”. The storm fairy came to test the young tree’s strength just like sometimes “we fall in the park and mum tells us to be strong and brush off all that dirt” they told me.
In between all this a woodland fairy dropped by, some stars were wished for, those wishes were granted, the little scientists carried out some truly serious apple research, they sang and danced with apples on their heads and then on their ears and a little later the apples were on their noses, the junior food critics tasted two different types of apples and rated them on taste, texture, yumminess quotient, scribbling, coloring and with that the workshop came to an end.
Honestly speaking I wasn't sure if that day when we walked out had we just had fun (which isn't bad either:)) or had the session made any little difference and opened their minds and palates to eating more apples. It was only later when the parents began to message me I was smiling.
One was surprised because her child had never eaten a whole apple. She usually makes a face after eating a few wedges I was told, one mentioned mine her child had never tasted green apples and she was happy about it. Another one was amused that with friends around the child had eaten the apple with the peel where as at home he always requested her to remove it.
Some of them wanted to do this tasting exercise with more varieties of apples for scoring it made them feel important and a lot of them are waiting eagerly for the next workshop I hear. One even tried the apple recipe I shared that day. I haven’t stopped grinning ever since. They explained the lifecycle of “our” apple seed to their parents. Grin just became wider.
Children are so receptive to new foods they have never tasted or food they have previously rejected in another form when you make it enjoyable and with peers isn't it? They all had an apple experience to tell me and each other. “My mum makes applesauce and I like that”, “mine gives me apples but they turn brown at school and I like only white wedges (with the experiment they now knew what causes browning and how to stop that :) YAY!), “I going to check for bruises on apples when I go shopping with my mum” and so much more.
My little chefling wanted to give the opening speech at the workshop! “You are my mum and are conducting this workshop which means I am the hostess too”, she said and wrote out the cutest opening words ever!
I asked her later that evening about the most memorable part of the workshop. It wasn't anything to do with the workshop if that’s what you are thinking. She bit into an apple that evening and a tooth that had been tickling her nearly came off! That was the biggest thing for her that evening! The tooth fairy will be visiting me soon and I am very very excited (a first for her!)
Later that evening she asked me if we could taste strawberries at the next workshop (If you'd like to see more snaps from that day the complete album is available here).
The workshop was made possible with the help from a lot of people who came forward because they wanted to be a part of creating Food Revolution here at Dubai.
The lovely ladies, Cecilia and Anette from DinnerTime were really kind and got the children the apples from the Greenheart Organic Farms. Tina, the lady behind Splash n Bounce generously offered the space to conduct the workshop. Big thank you ladies for being a part of my Food Revolution Diary and for getting our little ones to eat fresh and eat real.
This for me would be my Food Revolution moment of the year. I joined the wonderful and very encouraging team of Food Ambassadors very recently (two months old here so technically not the moment of the year type of a moment but hey it is the drop that counts!) and I am so happy that we enjoyed our apple story and biting into apples. Post the workshop even if a handful of kids out of the group of sixteen who came that day end up including apples in their diet and in turn convince their friends to try a bite from theirs I think we may have a little proud moment here.
There is a beautiful post by a fellow Ambassador Mardi Michels here and when I read it I found myself nodding in agreement. It is also about those little changes.
2015 is almost here and it is going to be my goal to connect with more and more children this year through cooking, telling stories, getting parents and kids to be in the kitchen together, writing and more.
Then there is the big day on the 15th of May that I can’t wait for and together we will bring about a Food Revolution at Dubai.
To the little changes. To the big ones. To healthy eating. To real food.
To Food Revolution.
Images: If you like any of the pictures on the blog and would like to use those please write to me. I put in hours of work behind each post and would love to share it with you but it would hurt me if use those without my permission. Just ask! I have taken the liberty to share the snaps of the children who attended the workshop that day, should any parent want me to remove their child's picture please let me know and I will do it immediately.