Emma, my middle child, the one who asks me everyday, "Is it two o'clock yet?" because she is not allowed to have a snack after lunch until then, asked me if she could have some popcorn. I said, "Sure," because it was after two o'clock and it seemed like a decent snack compared to all the pastel M&M's and SweetTart chicks and bunnies she'd been consuming throughout the day.
I pulled out the butter light bag of microwave popcorn from the pantry and proceeded to remove the plastic overwrap around the bag. Emma asked where the popcorn was. I said I had to make it still. She asked me, "How do you make it? Is it magic?"
That really threw me for a moment. It made me realize that Emma didn't know what popcorn kernels looked like because they are always inside the microwave bag. She has never had the joy of watching kernels sit in hot oil in the bottom of a popcorn popper and then suddenly explode into their white puffy glory. It is a fond memory I have from my childhood and makes me wish I would have kept that Stir Crazy popper I received as a wedding gift.
I then got to thinking about my kids suburban upbringing. We go apple picking every fall, we go to local farmer's markets during the summer, but otherwise they have very little experience with knowing where food really comes from. Granted, I didn't excatly live on a farm growing up, but my parent's house backed up to a field that was planted with wheat or soybeans or other crops each year. My grandpa was a farmer and died at home in his farmhouse just a few hundred feet from a once busy and full barn. I grew up sitting on the tractors in his barn imagining driving through the fields and climbing into the lofts with my cousins or siblings and hiding among the itchy bales of hay. The first time I liked any corn other than corn on the cob was when I ate the corn my Uncle Dave and Aunt Louise froze from their modest garden. I worked for two summers at a farm stand selling produce the farmer's grew and picked. I even hoed and weeded the melon field when the migrant workers hadn't come yet and the work needed to be done and picked green tomatoes for customers who wanted to fry some for dinner.
Now my kids don't even know what popcorn looks like. I'm not even sure they know that it is from the same plant that grows the corn that we eat for dinner at least once a week, whether from the freezer or from the farmer's market. I even have a cousin whose husband grows corn for one of the major popcorn manufacturers, but my kids don't know that.
It really saddens me that they won't have those same experiences of truly working with the land, or at least being a part of the process in some way of seeing how food is truly produced. Maybe I'll finally get around to planning and planting a garden with them. It's the closest thing I can think of to really teaching them that food comes from the earth, not Dominick's.