When I work with parents of young children, I often tell them they have to teach their children how to eat just like they teach them how to read or how to ride a bike. What I am talking about is not how to use a spoon or drink from a cup but how to eat a variety of fresh, minimally processed foods. Kids need to learn about the different flavors, colors and textures of whole foods by experiences with food – growing it, cooking it and eating it.
Here are some easy ways to connect the children in your life to the freshest most flavorful food around – food grown and produced right here in the Central Ohio River Valley.
Grow food at home.
Even if it is just a pot on your porch your kids will learn a lot about where food comes from by helping them grow their own. If you aren’t sure how to start ask your local county extension office (search for Cooperative Extension with your county name). Other local resources for the home gardener include the Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati and Turner Farm.
Visit a farm.
Check out one of the educational farms in our area such as Gorman Heritage Farm, Turner Farm or Fox Run Environmental Education Center or ask at the farmer’s markets if any of the farmers offer a farm tour. Better yet join a CSA and take your kids to work on the farm! See the CORV Guide for CSA contact information.
Support farm to school programs.
October is National Farm to School Month and this year’s theme is One Small Step. Learn more about how you can help connect farms to schools by visiting the National Farm to School Network’s website, farmtoschool.org. Volunteer in a school garden or help organize a farm field trip.
Visit a farmers market.
Make it a fun adventure for your kids by giving them a scavenger hunt list of things to find. Can they find a fruit or vegetable of each color of the rainbow? How about 2 foods that come from animals? Vegetables of different shapes? Let them pick out something new to try together at home.
Cook with your kids.
Look for simple recipes that feature fresh produce as the main ingredient. Even young children can help wash and snap green beans, tear leaves of kale into bite-size pieces or mash cooked sweet potatoes. Check out www.cookingwithkids.org for some great ideas and recipes.