Raising a health-conscious kid isn’t always the easiest endeavor for busy moms, especially when we try to provide healthy meals and snacks. So much of the food readily available focuses on convenience rather than nutrition.
We have so much more control over what goes into our children’s mouths when they are young. Perhaps you make their baby food from scratch or you look for ideas to pack them fun, nutritious and delicious lunches for school.
As children get older, they start to make their own decisions about nutrition and it is important to teach them about real food early. The sooner they learn about leading a healthy lifestyle, the more likely they will be to stick with it later in life. When asked where their food comes from, many children will happily say, “From the store or from the refrigerator!” One of the best ways to teach young kids about real food is to show them where food comes from. Check out some ideas that are both fun and educational:
Join a CSA
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs are a great way to take your children straight to the source. A CSA farmer sells members “shares” of their farms in advance and, in return, members get a portion of the harvest every week throughout the growing season. Look for a CSA where you can visit the actual farm to pick up your weekly shares or at least visit during an open house or member-only activities. This way, your children can see a real farm up close and personal.
Pick-your-own fruit farms
Many farms offer opportunities for picking your own fruit throughout the year. Take your child to pick apples in the fall and then make your own applesauce or a pie. Visit at Halloween and pick a pumpkin. After cleaning out the insides, roast the seeds for a fun snack. Picking strawberries is a great activity for young ones as the bushes are low to the ground.
Visit a creamery
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream—especially when you get it straight from the source! Many dairy farms have a creamery where you can buy fresh milk, cheese, yogurt and yes, ice cream. Often times you can visit with Bessie the cow and her friends and even watch a farmer in action.
What’s that old saying? If you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for one day, but if you teach him to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime. Learning how to fish and prepare your catch can be great family fun. Many local waterways host fishing derbies specifically designed for children and families.
Grow your own garden
One of the best ways to teach your child about the food cycle is to grow your own garden from seed to fruit or vegetable. Get your child involved in planting, watering, pruning and harvesting. Then have your child help with the meal prep, too!
Head to the library
Online games and videos
Today’s kids live online. If getting out to the farm isn’t feasible for your family, there is a wealth of information and activities for all ages online. Check out this video from mocomi.com that does a great job explaining where food comes from in an age-appropriate way. Visit My American Farmer online for games and learning activities for all ages.
How have you taught your children about where real food comes from? Tell us in the comments!