Taking your family to the local farmers’ market is an amazing way to teach your children about seasonal, fresh produce. It is also a wonderful way to explain to your children about where their food comes from and all that goes into their meals. At a farmers’ market there is so much for children to take in and many ways for them to learn about the world around them.
Here are four things to remember as you head out to bring a piece of the farm back to your table.
- Plan ahead- Scope out your local farmers’ markets. A regional or city website should list some of the farmers’ markets in your area. Involve your child in the planning process as you choose which market to attend and make a list of a few items that you will look for at the market. Get your child excited about what foods will be there and ask your child what new things they might be interested in trying.
- Talk About Why– When you go to a farmers’ market, you need to bring your own bag. This a great opportunity to start a conversation and explain that unlike the grocery store, most farmers’ markets don’t provide bags that are often thrown away and end up in landfills. Bringing reusable bags helps the environment and also saves money for the businesses. Buying from local farmers also helps the environment because food isn’t shipped from other states or countries. Along with explaining the concept of local food, you could also take this occasion to talk to your children about why it’s important to support businesses and people in your community. If your children are old enough, you can let them purchase one item of their choosing. As your little one counts his money highlight how he is contributing to his local economy.
- Ask questions- Your children might see fruits and vegetables they’ve never seen or noticed before. This is a chance to let your kids ask questions of the vendors (“What does it taste like?”), touch, smell, and learn about produce. Most farmers enjoy getting to know you and appreciate your interest in their passion. Also, the more invested that your child is in purchasing a product, the more likely they are to eat and enjoy that product later.
- Make a Meal– Getting your kids involved in the kitchen is a great way to have them try new foods. If you are planning a trip to the farmers’ market you can plan to have everyone help make dinner that night. Even if it’s just letting children add dressing and add a few of the veggies they picked out from the market that day. Most children are more likely to try more foods when they have had a hand in preparing it.