Spring and summertime are the perfect time to start!
Going to the farmers market can be made into an exciting, weekly event. Summer offers lots of fresh fruit that they can choose to make their smoothies, to put on their breakfast cereal, or to make fruit salads. Vegetables are tastier in summer than in winter, and there is a larger selection, so it is also an occasion to encourage them to try more vegetables. If they choose fruit and vegetables themselves, they will feel more part of the process, and are more likely to eat them.
Making the shopping list
Start by discussing the fruits and vegetables that are in season with your child before you go to the market. For the Lake Geneva region, you can look at our MarketDay photo albums, published regularly, to get an idea of what you can expect to find. If you are planning on making a meal together, choose the dishes and ingredients together when making your shopping list. If it’s fruit for snacks or smoothies, let them decide which ones they prefer.
It is a good idea to put up a food pyramid and a seasonal products chart somewhere in the kitchen, so you can refer to it when planning meals with the children, and also to explain why they must eat food such as green vegetables or fruit, for example. More suggestions are available in our 9 May 2009 post A fun, interactive guide for teaching your children good eating habits.
Explain the importance of buying local when possible. It is not only cheaper, but fresher, and therefore has more vitamins.
At the market
Once you’re at the market, let them start looking for the items on the list. When they’ve spotted them, explain how to choose, by color, smell, touch, ripeness, etc., but make sure to ask the vendor if it’s all right to touch first.
This is also a time to let them look for products that have a local origin written on the tags, and to explain that if the products are local, they are also more ecological, because the cost of transport is less, and that in turn makes them more economical. It takes a lot of fuel to bring tomatoes from Holland in July and August when we have them right here in the region. Reduced transport also cuts pollution.
Buying from local producers allows children to have direct contact with the farmers, and to ask questions if they like. Farmers love to talk about what they have lovingly produced, and this in turn encourages children to appreciate farmers’ hard work and the satisfaction that it brings them. There is a reciprocity: the farmer gives you something he or she has produced with care, and you in turn get to satisfy your tastebuds.
Make kids part of the entire process by letting them help prepare the meal or dish afterward. Once again, they are more likely to eat it if they help prepare it.
Originally published on GenevaLunch.com.