Raising "green" Muslims - The Muslimah Guide
The Muslimah Guide

Raising “green” Muslims

raising green muslims

Throughout the day, my five year old daughter can be caught snacking on odd and unexpected healthy treats from bites of celery stalks, lettuce, and even a half cut onion in the refrigerator.  She has no problem munching on wild fennel, broccoli leaves, and expressing her enjoyment as she indulges (which in her language comes out as: “yum yum!”).   None of my kids do. In fact, they seem to have no qualms whatsoever about eating anything produced through photosynthesis (or at least that’s what it seems like).

Although for the most part I try to eat healthy, I can’t (sadly) attribute this to my own eating habits because… let’s be frank, it has yet to cross my mind to bite an onion as if it was an apple, or munch on a naked piece of lettuce as a snack. And though I hate to admit, I still have unhealthy craving cycles which includes downing a bag of potato chips or devouring bars of chocolate in seconds (hey, I’m not perfect ;). With that said I am not exactly the poster child of what healthy eating is. So as you can imagine, I am just a tad bit marveled at my kids’ behavior at times, and their “self-led” snack choices. 

Which makes one wonder if it is not their mother who is instilling these healthy habits, who or what is it then? And the winner is (daf drum roll please)…

The garden! Yes, teaching my children how to garden from an early age has had the unintended consequence of shaping their palette and developing their love for greens!  Initially, we started gardening more for the “science” aspect of it. We wanted to teach them hands-on about the life of plants and how seeds sprout.  What we got as part of the beautiful package, wrapped with it’s tasty flavors was the nutritional love and appreciation for the plant kingdom.

Other reasons for raising “Green” Muslims include:

  1. Following a Sunnah: “If a Muslim plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, it is regarded as a charitable gift (sadaqah) for him.” – Imam Bukhari. I don’t know about you, but getting fresh organic home-grown produce and scoring points for it in the the akhirah sounds like a good deal to me 😉

  2. Learning an important skill: Learning to grow your own food is an important skill to have, and the sooner it’s introduced, the better chances of its legacy being continued.  With all the corrupt practices in the  food industry, it becomes increasingly hard to trust the quality of the food at the stores.  The only way to really know you are getting real organic food is 1.) you know and trust the farmer, or 2.) you become the farmer.

  3. It’s therapeutic:  Researchers has discovered that there are compounds in the soil that act as antidepressants, which explains why my kids are so calm when they are out in the garden.

  4. Food that you grow tastes better and is better for you! Spending part of my childhood in a rural area, I had the privilege of growing up in a small family “micro-farm.”  I remember just like it was yesterday, my grandmother sending us to pick vegetables and herbs from the garden.  I can still taste the delicious dishes she would make from these freshly picked, fragrantly scented, home-grown produce. So, as you can imagine, peeling off plastic film from produce that you know has been sitting for a while in trucks and then the store shelves, does not have the same appeal.  Somehow it’s just not as tasty, and my mother-in-law has confirmed this with her many complaints of the fruits at the stores here not having any scent or flavor compared with the fruits from “back home.” Also, the longer produce sits, the more vitamins it loses, so it cannot compare nutritionally as well.

  5. Learn other lessons: Along with the plant kingdom, my kids have learned so much about the animal kingdom, from all the little critters that visit our garden from birds that took residence in our grapevine, to the worms that faithfully toils our soil everyday.

So let’s say you want to start gardening but you don’t have land to work on.  Don’t worry, you don’t need acres of land to grow food, because you can still garden even if it is in small pots.  In fact, we grow most of our herbs and vegetables in containers. You can always start small and work with what you have. The point is to teach your children to nurture the love of gardening at an early age. Even if your kids never become full-blown gardeners, you can be rest assured that as a by-product, they will learn to appreciate plants, as well as eating them!