5 Ways to Teach Your Children Where Their Food Comes From
As a part of our CSA program at Hemlock Hill Farm, my husband, my daughter and I were given the opportunity to volunteer on the farm. Being able to work on the farm was a great experience for all of us. Even though some of us were a little reluctant to go (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, “husband” cough ;) Although we go to the farm weekly to pick up our vegetable share, there is something very different and special about actually working on the farm. Together we saw acres of land where hundreds of tomatoes, bunches of broccoli, kale, cabbage and corn were growing. We visited the chicken coops and beehives. It was fun! Even being assigned the pretty mundane chore of picking weeds in the field did not dampen the mood. My daughter was able to enjoyed watching all of the creepy crawly critters that lived amongst the plants. As we worked together, my daughter marveled at the bright yellow butterflies, the lime green inch worms and the ruby red ladybugs. I am so glad we went. I believe that showing children where their food comes from is a gift. It helps them to reconnect with nature, and appreciate all of the work that goes into the food that is served at their table. It even enhances their understanding of how their food choices have an effect on the environment. One of the greatest lessons you can offer your child about social responsibility, environmental awareness, gratitude and health, is to teach about where the food comes from. You won’t regret it. Here are a few ideas on how to get started.
1- Visit a Pick Yourself Farm
As a part of my daughter day care program at Ann and Andy Child Care Center, the children took a trip to Barton’s Farm to pick apples. It was so much fun. I have never seen my daughter so excited about apples before. I think that there is something about having the independence to walk through the orchards and pick your very own apples that makes it so much more special. The kids also, took a hay ride, navigated through an outdoor maze, picked pumpkins and finished off their trip with a homemade apple cider and donuts. It really was a treat!
2- Cook Together
I always figured that because my daughter has so many food
sensitivities that she would be weary of food and being in the kitchen, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Kids love cooking. My daughter loves being in charge of making the morning juice, mixing ingredients, laying veggies down in the dehydrator to make chips or kneading a cabbage and salt mixture to prepare sauerkraut. When my daughter is involved in the cooking process she is much more willing to try new things. She also feels proud of herself when she cooks. I am sure that if I continue to find ways to include her in the meal preparation, she will carry her love of cooking into adulthood.
3- Plant a Vegetable Garden at Home
I would hardly call myself a green thumb but I think that even the biggest garden dummies can figure out a way to grow some type of food at home. Whether you are ready for a tiny herb garden, a container garden on your porch or a full blown organic garden in the yard, your efforts will have a real impact on your kids. Just how a pet becomes more precious to you when you are the one in charge of taking care of them, growing your own food becomes special, unique and a source of pride. Giving your child garden chores will help bring the farm-to-table experience to life. As they watch their food grow, they will look forward to eating the fruits of their labor.
4- Visit a Local Farmers Market
Farmers market are fun, full of life, with lots of people chatting, exploring and sampling products from various vendors. There are fruits and vegetables, fresh breads and desserts, cheeses and even homemade crafts, soaps and wooden bowls. Our family enjoys the farmers market at the Muscoot farm. Children enjoy visiting the animals and the small garden, taking hay rides, playing in the open air on acres of land and exploring the market with their parents. Watching people come together to buy local products and meet the people who have made them for you is a wonderful experience for children. Farmers markets create community and foster an appreciation and gratitude for the contributions from other people in the community.
5- Join a CSA
As I have mentioned above, my family has really benefitted from joining the CSA program at our local farm. I think that if you are serious about increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables that your family consumes as well as supporting local farms that practice humane and organic practices, then joining a Community Supported Agriculture program may be right for you and your family. To join, your family will buy a share of the farms produce for a season. Your family will get the freshest seasonal produce on the planet at affordable prices. Best of all you and your family will get to meet and become familiar with the farmer who actually grows your food. Your children will appreciate going to the farm each week to discover the wonderful new vegetables that you will get to take home in your share.
Let’s help reconnect our kids to the environment. They will gain such an appreciation for the planet when they realize that what sustains their life comes directly from the earth. Food does not come from supermarkets and it is certainly not something that comes easily to us. It should not be taken for granted. I believe that the health of our kids depends on basic lessons like these. That is why the Holistic Kids program includes lessons topics such as the origins of food, how to garden and the importance of community. It is our hope that teaching children to make food choices that not only enhance their own health but supports the local community, will help to change the face of today’s toxic food industry. Rather than reaching for the candy bars and soda that they are bombarded with in the stores, they will value the food from the earth.