YUM! Kroger Kids Fresh Friends program offers kids free fresh produce once a month.

My fear of avocados is gone

A program like Fresh Friends would have made me a much wiser consumer of produce when I was a kid.

About 10 years ago, I ordered a Cobb salad at one of my favorite restaurants. It was my first introduction to avocado, which was sliced and fanned out across a bed of greens and other goodies. I shoved it aside and went for the eggs, romaine lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and onions.  I love my vegetables, yet the avocado remained untouched, mainly because I was unfamiliar with it. I’d shied away from guacamole at parties for the same reason. 

When I was growing up, my family hardly went out to eat. So if it wasn’t on Mom’s shopping list, we didn’t eat it. To this day, I don’t know if Mom has ever had an avocado. Regardless, the point is, the mom or dad in any household (whoever does the shopping and generally the cooking as well) has a lot of influence on kids’ diets and their preferences as an adult.

Ironically, it was my oldest daughter who got me interested in avocados, which are actually a fruit. Being an athlete, she was turned on by all the heart-healthy benefits they offer and the 20 different vitamins and minerals.

Her first sampling was at a friend’s house. And my first sampling came at her urging. Avocados got penciled in on the shopping list, and reluctantly, I bought a couple. I learned they are green when shipped, but if you want one to eat, wait for them to turn black. But don’t wait too long, they go bad fast.

Guacamole is now a staple around here, and there’s usually an avocado or two on the counter.

Just last week, while checking out of Kroger, I noticed a basket of avocados at the checkout. There was a small flier and a cardboard card — like a punch card the coffee shop offers. It’s all part of the Kroger Kids Fresh Friends program, which offers kids free fresh produce once a month. Usually it’s set up in the produce department, which I had never before noticed.

The program, now in its third year, allows anyone under 18 to get a free Kroger Kids Fresh Friends card.

Each month kids can take the featured produce to the cashier, who scans the card, and checks the month off the back. No purchase is necessary, and kids walk out with a free fruit or veggie.

There are so many good things about this program. Kids (and even parents) get exposure to new foods and added nutrition. The store gets good publicity, potential future sales and positive public relations.

If we’d have had something like this years ago, I wouldn’t have waited until my 30s to have my first avocado.


Remembering Dodi Frost

Like an old friend, Dorothy “Dodi” Frost had no problem chatting it up with me while walking the grounds outside her family’s farm in Lowell a little over three years ago. We would later gather around the oak dining room table to talk about her decision to enroll 75.4 acres of farmland, mostly apple orchards, into the Kent County Purchase of Development Rights program.

In July 2014, Dodi, with the blessing of her five children, signed the papers putting a permanent easement on the land, forever protecting it from being developed.

FRIEND TO FARMING: Dodi Frost passed away peacefully on Dec. 4.

What I didn’t know as I drove to the farm that day is what a treat I was in for. Dodi, 89 at the time, was a tiny woman with a little bit of a shake. She reminded me in many ways of the older Katharine Hepburn in “On Golden Pond.”

She had squeakiness in her voice, and an overall spunkiness about her. Her memory was clear and sharp. And while I was there to write a story on preserving farmland, Dodi recounted several notable, indelible and even whimsical events in her life, often alternating between welled eyes and laughter.

It was a long interview, but one that I wasn’t in any hurry to end.

I’m saddened to hear that Dodi Frost, matriarch of a large extended family of Frosts, McPhersons and Roarks, passed away peacefully on Dec. 4 after a long battle with congestive heart failure. She was 92.

A memorial service in celebration of Dodi’s life will be held in Kent County in July when Dodi’s ashes are interred in the Frost family plot in Lowell.

Her obituary says: “She was a force of nature, an exemplar of style, and a person of great warmth and love.” I concur.

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