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Tasty teachings: Youths learn about healthier eating by growing popcorn

Tasty teachings: Youths learn about healthier eating by growing popcorn

Popcorn plants are growing in large fields along North Campbell Avenue — and you might wonder why.

“We grow popcorn to teach youths about whole grains and how they can make healthy snacks,” said Elizabeth Sparks, youth development agent for a 4-H program affiliated with the University of Arizona.

“We found that kids were eating lots of unhealthy things,” she said. “If we can teach them to eat popcorn along with some seasonings, they will be getting a healthy whole grain with minerals, vitamins and nutrients they need.”

Youths taking part in activities at the Tucson Village Farm, 4210 N. Campbell Ave., helped plant fields of corn in July at the nearby UA Campus Agricultural Center.

“We’ll harvest it at a harvest festival on Nov. 4,” Sparks said, noting that the popping corn is a different variety than the sweet corn that people eat. “After letting it dry, we’ll process it and clean it and get it ready to pop and serve to kids who come on field trips.

“It’s locally grown food that kids can eat right here and get educated about whole grains and nutrition.”

Sparks said Tucson Village Farm participants have been growing popcorn since the farm opened in 2010.

The Nov. 4 harvest festival is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is free.

Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at or at 573-4192. On Twitter: @DouglasKreutz

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