Another beautiful mid-June day in the Midwest, and there I was, minding my own squirming business making a casting in a beautiful organic family garden in Evanston, Illinois, when I heard approaching footsteps. So I poked my anterior out of the soil and saw this girl coming toward me with kitchen shears…
Me: HEY! What’re you doing with those scissors?
Girl with scissors: What? Huh? Who’s there?
Me: Here! Me! In the soil! Name’s Ovie.
Girl: What the…Ovie? Oh! Ovie the Earthworm...from Organic Valley!
Me: Yeah, it’s me, Ovie. How’d you know I was from OV? And who are you?
Girl: My name is Isabella. My sister and I use some of your products in a few of our recipes. I’ve seen your picture around.
Me: Recipes? You? You cook? Aren’t you a little young for kitchen work?
Isabella: Not at all, Ovie! In fact, my sister and I are in the business of teaching other kids how they can get more involved in the kitchen by making their own meals. We even have our own website—Spatulatta.com!
Me: Neat! Hey, I’ve got my own website, too!
Me: Yep. Well, actually it's just a web page. But...you know...I'm just an earthworm.
Isabella: Earthworms are cool!
Me: Hey, thanks! So are you! Say, I post interviews with interesting people on my web page. Mind if I interview you?
Isabella: Not at all, Ovie! Go right ahead!
Me: Okay, uh…let’s see….what are you doing out here in this garden, Isabella?
Isabella: Oh, I’m just picking some basil so I can make some pesto pasta.
Me: Pesto pasta? That sounds fun. What’s pesto pasta?
Isabella: Pesto pasta is basically any pasta with pesto - a green sauce made from basil leaves, garlic cloves, pine nuts, and olive oil. The garlic makes it a little bit spicy.
Me: Sounds pretty delicious.
Isabella: It’s my favorite!
Me: Is it organic?
Isabella: Well, yes, of course the basil is organic. We like to get as much as we can from our backyard garden. It’s easy to grow an organic garden in the city and we think growing and cooking your own food is an important part of a healthy diet.
Me: Why’s that, Isabella?
Isabella: Well, you can just never be sure where processed food comes from. It’s always good to know where your food came from, and fresh, organic food usually contains more of the nutrients your body needs.
Me: Do you always eat organic food?
Isabella: Not always. It’s kind of hard for us to always eat organic food because we buy what’s available at the store, and they don’t always have organic food. And sometimes the organic food can be more expensive.
Me: Yeah, that’s a problem a lot of people have with it.
Isabella: It is, but the farmers’ market just opened here! Every Saturday morning we go to the farmers’ market and buy a bunch of organic vegetables and some flowers for the table and it makes the weekend feel like a real treat!
Me: That’s great! And you’re right…the farmers’ markets usually are a little cheaper because you’re getting the food right from the person who grew it.
Isabella: Right. And there’s another way to make organic less expensive: growing your own. We buy all kinds of seeds with a group of friends and divide them up so we can plant our own gardens. Growing your own food is a longer process than going to the store and buying it, but it feels great because you really do make a better connection with the earth.
Me: Boy, you’re smart. You talk just like my friends at Organic Valley! How old are you?
Isabella: I’m 14.
Me: 14! Wow. And not only do you grow your own food, but you also prepare it in the kitchen, AND put instructional videos for other kids on the internet?
Isabella: Yep. Me and my sister, Olivia. She’s 12.
Me: WHY? Why do you spend so much time doing this stuff instead of playing or whatever?
Isabella: Well, it’s fun, Ovie. It’s not much different than playing, and it’s a message we think is important for kids to hear.
Me: What message is that?
Isabella: Lots of kids these days aren’t eating at home. They’re eating processed foods that don’t provide much nutrition, and they’re not eating together, with their families. Obesity is an epidemic. Lots of kids think food comes from a box, and not from the ground.
Me: That just makes me squirm in all the wrong ways.
Isabella: Exactly! That’s why we think it’s important that kids know where food really comes from so they can sustain themselves later in life. And it really is a fun thing to do—gardening, cooking, and making the videos!
Me: SQUIRMARIFIC! How can I help?
Isabella: Well, Ovie, I think if you’d be nice enough to share all this on your web page, that might send more kids to our website and hopefully the word will spread from there!
Me: Another great idea. You sure are smart.
Isabella: Thanks, Ovie. And you’re great at squirming around in the soil so we can grow such delicious food to eat.
Me: Aw, shucks – you make a lowly worm feel pretty important.
Isabella: And you are! Well, I better get inside and finish making supper. How about you get back down underground, making your castings or whatever it was you were doing?
Me: Delicious idea!
Check out the great how-to cooking videos for kids on Isabella and Olivia's website!