Our society is often based around fast these days. Fast internet, fast cars, fast food. There is a convenience factor to this, but it also seems that we are teaching ourselves, and our children, to rush through everything. As a teacher, I often see this in action; most students do the minimum and try to get done as quickly as possible. One of the areas I am trying to take the time to slow down and invest time in is food. My husband and I have never been much for fast food, but there are the times that it is a convenience. However, more than anything, we want to have our children invested in how they eat so that they learn for their future.
Start With Planting
To kids, there is something magical about the fact that a seed can grow into a plant, and then into food for us to enjoy. I am forturnate enough to live on a produce farm, so my children get to see this in action every day. But, you don’t need to live on a farm, or even have a garden, to give your children an opportunity to plant their own food. A tomato plant can be grown right on your front porch in a pot, as well as many greens like lettuce, spinach, and kale. I like to have my kids try planting green because the food that they will eat is the leaves themselves, so they don’t have to wait to long to enjoy their work! I also highly recommend the book “Growing Vegetable Soup” because it helps kids see the connection to their food and is also brightly colored and great for working on colors!
On to the Harvest
With my first child, I was lucky – he ate everything from the start. He is willing to try almost anything and he likes it. My second child is a whole different story – he is as picky as can be, from refusing to try cereals to despising most meals I make. Thankfully, when it come to harvesting, he is a much better eater. I like to take my boys out to pick their lunches, so to speak. Kids like to be involved in the process. I can’t get him to eat peas normally, but when I brought him to the garden and let him pick and shell his own peas, he loved them! Same with cucumbers and green beans. And every child loves to pick strawberries and raspberries. If you don’t have a garden or can’t make it to a local patch, try going to a farmers market and letting your kid pick out foods to try!
Storing for Later
We like to preserve as much food as we can for the winter, which means freezing, blanching, making jam, and canning! Again, there are great ways to keep kids involved. Both of my boys find it a blast to mash the berries for jam! The will help me snap the beans into little pieces. Sure – they certainly aren’t uniform, but in the winter you can say “Do you remember when we broke these beans into pieces?” “Do you remember when we made this jam?” It is a great way for kids to see and know where their food came from.
The reality is, our focus on fast is one of the reasons our society is having an obesity problem at the same time that malnourishment is going back up. Teaching your kids about food and investing time in food promotes a healthy lifestyle and mentality from the beginning! Plus, planting, picking, and making food is a fun thing to do as a whole family! I hope you find a way to give it a try this summer!