Our daughter received a set of wooden vegetables for her birthday– a radish, a lemon, a mushroom, and a carrot. The sharp, clean lines and shiny, bright colors, are both like and unlike real vegetables–like because of accurate color portrayal but unlike because no vegetable, worth eating, is so free from dirt or imperfections. When we get carrots from the food co-op, we fill up the kitchen skin with black dirt cleaning them for eating. Knots and bumps, whorls and lumps, clumps of dirt, bug bites, and many other things mark the surface of fresh produce showing that it came from the ground, the tree, or the bush, that it is connected to something beyond the plate and fork that you are eating it with.

Fake food is continually a popular toy for children. From wooden vegetables, to plastic peas, to Play-doh pizza making kits, kids love reenacting this integral part of being alive.  I like that she can play with these vegetables and we can start a discussion about where our food comes from, even at this young age.

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