Have you ever looked closely at broccoli before you ate it? Then you already know this: it’s a plant! Pretend you are holding a chunk of it right now. “Look” at those thick stalks. See those little flower buds on top? Yes, indeedy, broccoli’s a plant.
But then, all our food comes from green plants in some way! Even the “food” part of “fast food” comes from plants. Your hamburger, when it was alive as a cow, ate plants. Your soy burger skipped the cow step and came straight from soybean plants. Every part of your pizza was once part of a plant.
Why? Because that’s the way God made Creation. All living things—that includes you—need energy. That energy comes from sunlight. Your body can’t turn sunlight into energy. Only green plants can do that. Plants make food from sunlight, and that food contains the energy you need. So to get the energy you need to live, you must eat plants. Or eat something that ate plants. Or eat something that ate something that ate plants. That’s the way God made you.
But that’s only part of the story. Here’s another: Some plants are really cool. Some are really quirky. That’s the way God made them. Read on to discover the cool and quirky plants on your plate.
Food for Thought
What did God create first, plants or creatures? Why?
Popcorn comes from a plant. It’s dried corn. There are many varieties of corn, but only the popcorn variety pops after it’s dried out. All varieties of corn come from wild grass. So when you pop popcorn, you’re popping a wild grass!
Carrots are roots. Sometimes they don’t look like roots because they’ve been pulled, washed, peeled, sliced, and maybe even cooked for you.
Like beets, carrot plants have a two-year life cycle. They make leaves during the first season. They make flowers and seed during the second season. Between the two seasons, they store their energy in big fat roots—carrots!
On a farm or in a garden, carrots usually don’t survive until the second season. The farmer or gardener pulls out the whole plant to get the carrot.
But if you let a carrot plant grow through the second season, you would see it send up a shoot and a flower. That flower would look a lot like the wildflower Queen Anne’s lace. That’s because Queen Anne’s lace is the original wild carrot. Pull up a Queen Anne’s lace plant some time and smell the root. It will smell like carrots!
Peanuts are a variety of pea. That’s why peanuts in their shells resemble peas in their pods.
Most peas grow above the ground. You pick peas—pod and all—off a bush. But peanuts develop underground. So to pick peanuts, you need a shovel.
Although peanuts grow underground, they’re not roots. They’re seeds. Confusing, isn’t it?
Most plants have their roots below ground and their seeds in some kind of pod or fruit above ground. Even other peas have their seeds above ground. Yet peanut plants have both their roots and their seeds beneath the ground.
You might say that the peanut plant plants its own seeds.
Peanuts really ARE nutty peas!
Want to grow a peanut plant? You can find out how at this website: www.goodearthpeanuts.com/aboutpeanuts.htm#anchor1.
At supper tonight, try to name one food on your plate that cannot be traced to a green plant.
Some plants make sugar and store it to use as energy later. Beet plants and sugar cane are good at this.
Beets were made for colder climates. They’re two-year plants. They sprout and grow during the first growing season. They bloom and set seed during the second season.
Near the end of the first season, beet plants prepare for the next spring. They store sugar in their roots. The top part of the plant may freeze during the winter. But the roots will have enough energy to sprout in the spring. Those roots are called sugar beets.
Some sugar is made from sugar beets. If you have a bag of sugar in the house, check it. It may say “beet sugar.” Or your bag might say “cane sugar.”
Sugar cane was made for warm climates. It doesn’t need to store sugar in roots. There’s usually no frost to kill the top part of the plant. So sugar cane stores its energy as sugar right in the plant stalks, which we call sugar canes!
Seaweed for Supper?
Kids who eat sushi love seaweed! Others say “no way!” to eating this underwater plant.
But maybe you’ve come closer to eating seaweed than you think. Look at your plate. See that tuna sandwich? That shrimp? Those anchovies on your pizza? Where did those critters get their energy? From seaweed!
Well, maybe not seaweed exactly. Maybe they ate algae or other tiny or slimy green stuff. That tuna probably ate a smaller fish, which ate a shrimp, which ate something green.
Here’s the point: Everything on your plate that lived in water got its energy from seaweed or other tiny or slimy green things that live in water. If you eat seafood of any kind, your energy comes from green stuff like seaweed.
Thank God for that watery food chain. Because of it, you’ll never have to eat seaweed for supper if you don’t want to!