Plants store food for themselves in various parts and they become valuable food for us. It would be interesting to tell your kids which parts they are actually eating!
Every large factory has storerooms for storing all that is made in the factory before it is used or sent out. In our homes, mother stores foodstuffs in the larder in readiness for times of shortage. Animals and smaller creatures know too that when there is plenty of food, some should be stored for the time when they will need it. Squirrels, ants and bees are some of these thrifty creatures. A camel stores food in the hump on its back.
Green plants store food for the time when the plant machines are not able to work. They use different parts of the plant as storerooms; roots, stems, leaves, and seeds. They do not store food for us. They store food for new leaves, flowers and seeds that will grow the next year, but before a plant uses them, we take them for ourselves. They are the most important foods for us.
Many different kinds of vegetables are dug from the earth. Some of these you know as Carrots, Turnips, Sweet Potatoes, Beet and Radish. They once sprouted from seeds that grew roots, stems and leaves. At first the roots are like the roots of any plants you have seen, but when the leaves have made enough food for the plant to feed on, the root begins to swell larger and larger. This tells us the plant is using the root as a storeroom for the food the plant does not require at once. The more food a plant stores away, the bigger the carrot or turnip grows. It is carefully storing food for a new plant which will grow flowers next year. The flowers will make good seeds. This is what would happen if it was left in the earth, but as flowers appeared, the stout root of the carrot would begin to shrivel until it was dry and useless. Before this takes place, the carrot is rooted up and we enjoy the food it has stored for itself.
You may have noticed that carrots, beet and other roots taste sweet. Three important foods which come from plants are starch, sugar and oil. There are plants that we do not use as food that also store food in their roots. The Dahlia, a beautiful flowering plant, stores food in this way.
ROOTS WE EAT