By Julie Vrazel

Growing up on our farm, I spent most of my time outside and as far away from the kitchen as possible. Perfecting my mud pie recipe was the result of those years spent outside, while my kitchen skills remained practically nonexistent until a few months ago.

Sparked by the diversity of foods available in the city, I entered the grocery store with an open mind. I had heard of spaghetti squash and even tried it once, but I had never attempted to cook it myself.

So, after quick contemplation, I chose the large, yellow vegetable lying amidst the eggplant and acorn squash. I, the da Vinci of sandwich making, was ready for a change.

With the smoke detector as my ally and armed with my recipe and ingredients, I began creating my kitchen masterpiece. Twenty minutes later, my spaghetti squash, green beans and baked chicken were ready and my kitchen was still intact.

Though it seems uncommon to you, our farmers are familiar with spaghetti squash and other specialty crops. Their expertise, skills and passion are the driving force behind our safe and affordable food supply.

Branching out to try new, healthy foods, such as spaghetti squash, acorn squash or cauliflower mashed potatoes, brings diversity to your plates, is good for you and recognizes the farmers’ efforts.

Take another look down the produce aisle and give those specialty crops and often overlooked items in the grocery store a chance.

After all, an empty pan is like a blank canvas, ready and waiting for the next food creation.