Help kids grow into their own healthy food choices
Allison Day, RHN
Bring the kids food shopping at the farmers’ market for an opportunity to learn about where fresh food comes from, how it’s grown, and what it takes to cook a nutritious dinner (they actually want to eat!).
With kids come an abundance of teachable moments in the realm of healthy eating. Some of the best moments can happen at the market—whether it’s your local food market or your neighbourhood farmers’ market. When it comes to healthy food choices, it's key to provide a positive example for kids. Evidence shows that parents who purchase healthy foods, such as fresh produce, significantly increase the probability of their children making those same beneficial choices compared to peers whose parents choose less healthy options, such as processed snacks. Here are more positive perks, lessons, and activities that can come out of taking kids to the market.
Both outdoor and indoor farmers’ markets will present a clearer picture of a food’s seasonality. Kids will see asparagus pop up in late spring; tomatoes will overflow at the stands in late summer; arugula will look beautiful from June to September; and heartier root vegetables will be present beginning in late summer and continuing into the winter months.
Pulling back the curtain for kids to discover real whole foods is sure to draw attention to just how removed processed food is from fresh ingredients. Whether its produce, meat, or eggs, they’ll see there’s a world of food beyond the plastic grocery store packages.
Teach your little locavores why their decision to choose local has a greater impact—on the planet’s health and the food system en masse.
Discuss the choices kids made at the market. This can include why they picked out a particular ingredient, instilling a sense of ownership over their healthy food choices. Also ask them how they’d like to prepare it for dinner.
Most vendors will gladly provide a sample before you make a purchase. Even if the verdict is a decided “yuck!” at least they tried.
Trust your kids and give them an opportunity (if they’re old enough) to ask farmers’ market vendors questions of their own invention. This will return answers in terms they can digest.
Even if the garden is a planted pot of rosemary kept indoors, it’s something for them to nurture now while looking forward to cooking with it in the future.
Keep it simple for the kids; tidbits like bell peppers being high in vitamin C to ward off a cold are the building blocks of more complex nutrition facts.
With your shopping done, and the little chefs ready to get cooking, it’s time to put those healthy choices to good use—all week long. If they’ve watched you and the farmer get excited about this fresh food, they’re going to be excited to help prep it and, eventually, to eat it.
Not sure what to cook? We've got you covered with this weeklong meal plan of kid-friendly dinners using market-fresh ingredients.