momstown mamas are all striving for healthy kids and avoid the whole childhood obesity epidemic. Plenty of exercise, lots of fresh fruits and veggies and mindful eating habits are the best start to lifelong health.
Incorporating kids into your regular grocery store trip is important but a visit to the Farmers Market provides a different context. Plus, on these long drawn out days of summer we’re looking to inject a little FUN into our outings, right?! Any Farmer’s Market can serve up a fun and interactive experience PLUS provide valuable lessons about fruits & vegetables, the local economy, eating local and making eco-friendly choices.
Give some of these great ideas a try next time you and the kids hit the market:
Meet the Farmers!
Usually each booth is manned by the farmer themselves so get to know them! Ask them what time they got up this morning? (probably EARLY!) How long have they been coming to this market? This is your chance to develop a relationship with the people who grow our food. Connecting with the actual producers will make returning to the market more fun as you visit ‘friends’ each week.
In advance (or on the way!), talk about what the kids would like to know about the market wares. How many strawberries grow on a plant? How long does it take to grow? Has it been a good year for that fruit or vegetable? How many pies do you bake at once? Write the questions down to avoid stage fright at the farm stall and go home with the answers (this is a super summer literacy task too!).
What’s in Season Eye-Spy?
This is a fun game for the younger crowd to point from their stroller as it’s colour based and easy to play along. Right now red strawberries and raspberries are in season so ask your child to point out the RED colours at the market. Later in the summer there will be more green and in the fall lots of orange…. Try to find all the colours of the rainbow together.
Recipe Scavenger Hunt
Before you go, decide what’s on the menu for the week. Give each child a list of items you need (strawberries, fresh peas, musk melon, green beans…) and let them find them for you.
Market Money Savvy
If your kids are a bit older, give them a small budget and the responsibility of buying some items. They’ll quickly learn the market banter and figure out that a basket of zucchini is $3 but two baskets for $5 is a better deal. Hands down, the buying task will encourage more eating at home too!
Be honest about what you see. That cow? Yes, it’s going to be hamburger.
Recently, our family stopped into the Keady Market and watched cattle be auctioned off to local farmers. As cows were herded into the auction pen, we talked about how those animals would turn into roast beef. At first, I hesitated with my honesty unsure how the kids would handle it, but they nodded and understood. We talk about these things at the dinner table and emphasize the origin of a carrot or tomato, so it made sense to draw a connection to the meat in our life in a relevant way. (PS: yes, my kids are still happily eating meat).
The stronger the connection to real food the better appreciation our families will have to what we put in our mouths. The closer we feel to our local producers the more we will eat in season and enjoy those seasonal gems. We will appreciate the time and effort that goes into growing and producing and those are powerful lessons to pass down to your kids.
Enjoy your Farmer’s Market this season together as a family!