Writing stories to pass values from one generation to the next

The Clean Plate Club: Of Baseball and Brussels Sprouts

Clean Plate Club

Clean Plate Club

The Clean Plate Club

The title of this post associates baseball, Brussels sprouts, and the clean plate club. Read all the way to the end of today’s post for a riddle to share. But read the post first.

When you were a kid, were you regularly admonished to eat everything on your plate? Perhaps you were reminded of the starving kids in Ethiopia who would have loved to have those Brussels sprouts to which you turned up your nose. (My friend Tony says his children who were adopted from Ethiopia dispel the whole Ethiopian love affair with Brussels sprouts. They won’t eat ’em, either. Just so you know.)

My dad always encouraged my sisters and brother and me to be members of the clean plate club. To this day, I will continue to eat past full if anything is left on my plate. For me, portion discipline occurs at the serving line. Once it’s on the plate, it’s gonna get ate.

Clean Plate Club Failures

My mom was a big believer in our trying a variety of foods. I get that. My boys are big on not liking foods that they have not even tried. But some of the foods that Mom made me try…

  • Liver cheese loaf. Ugghh! This was a sandwich meat of liver with little dabs of cheese. It smelled awful and tasted even worse, but I suppose I am a more cultured individual because I have eaten liver cheese sandwich meat. Once.
  • Grapefruit. Looks like an orange, only bigger. So grapefruit should taste like an orange, only better. Only, not so much. As much as I would like to like grapefruit, I just don’t. (I would also love to like steamed broccoli, but not even a gallon of melted cheese on it makes me like what is supposedly one of the best foods for you.) But I’m a better man for having tried both grapefruit and broccoli. I suppose.
  • Fried eggs. The first time Mom made me eat fried eggs, it took about an hour for me to gain my membership in the clean plate club. The second time, well, that’s a whole ‘nother story. I won’t say that my effort toward eating them was exactly stellar, but they were AWFUL! Even worse than the first time, which I didn’t think possible. My dad noticed something while I was eating, though, that helped make sense of the situation. He asked to taste my milk and tabbed it as the culprit. Turns out my cup had been washed but not rinsed, resulting in soapy milk. After that incident I never slacked up in my love for milk, but I have never again eaten a fried egg. If eating fried eggs is what it will take for me to be well-rounded, I’ll just stick with being sorta oval.

The Clean Plate Club and You

Are you a regular member of the clean plate club? Does your answer to that question reflect the importance your parents placed on eating everything on your plate?

If you are a parent, does your emphasis on clean plate club membership (or lack thereof) to your kids mirror your parents’ emphasis on it?

Okay, Here’s the Riddle

Many baseball umpires from the ’70’s and ’80’s tended to be rather rotund gentlemen. Why were they so big?



Wait for it…



Wait for it…



Because they were…


Clean Plate Club

photo credit: Bart Hanlon via photopin cc

…members of the clean plate club!

Other baseball-themed posts:


Boosting Baseball IQ: 12 Things Not to Yell at the Game

THAT Youth Baseball Parent (You Know the One)


About Al Ainsworth

Al Ainsworth is a values storyteller. He works with individuals, businesses, churches, and other organizations to pass along their values through the stories they tell…and re-tell.

Al is the author of Lines in the Gravel, Stories from the Roller Coaster (of a Faith Life), and the Coach Dave series. Subscribe to his email list for more values storying.

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