Eight Reasons to Bring Your Kids to the Farmers Market!

Image credit – Natalie Maynor

If you are looking for a fun family activity this weekend, what better place to go than your local farmers market? A trip to the farmers market is a great way to expose your children to new fruits and veggies while introducing them to the idea of eating locally grown seasonal ingredients. Each stand at the market is a hands-on classroom on new textures and tastes with farmers just waiting for inquisitive minds to talk to. Plus, kids are much more likely to try that winter squash if they learned about it and helped pick it out!

Here is a list of eight great reasons to bring your kids to the farmers market this fall:

1. Connecting with “real food”

We have a huge disconnect with our food in America. Break the cycle of processed, packaged food by reconnecting with whole foods at the farmers market. Show your child what a carrot really looks like, or where the corn in that can comes from!

 

2. Talking with farmers

A lot of people don’t know much about where their food comes from or how it is grown, especially if it is done using sustainable or organic methods. As mentioned above, most farmers are happy to field questions about their work and their produce! Farming is pretty amazing, so encourage your kids to ask questions. If you get a chance to discuss growing food with your child beforehand, have them make a list of questions they want to ask the farmer.

 

3. Teaching them how to be a good consumer

If your kids are old enough, give them a small sum to make their own purchases. This allows them to explore the decision process involved behind shopping wisely and will make them excited to try out their very own veggies later for dinner. If you have a toddler, let her give the money to the farmer!

 

4. Introducing new foods

Farmers markets are full of foods your child (or you!) has never seen before. Having such an interactive experience with these new foods makes kids more eager to try them. Combining the new foods with happy memories at the market is a great way to positively reinforce trying different foods. Create a farmers market hunt for your kids – try to find a purple vegetable or foods of different shapes.

 

5. Cooking at home

Cooking with toddlers or young kids can be a messy adventure. But it also cultivates awareness and skills that will help them later in life, as well as bring them closer to their food. If they get to help cook the food they just picked out, it’s even more exciting!

 

6. Learning about nutrition

A day at the farmers market is a great way to talk about nutrition concepts, even basic things like how nutrients can help you see or why it’s healthy to eat a variety of foods. Kids can begin to understand how whole foods are packed with vitamins and minerals as well as being tasty!

 

7. Family bonding time

Weekends are often busy and filled with errands and other obligations as well as family time. An afternoon trip to the farmers market is a great way to get in some quality time enjoying family and food! It may end up being a weekly tradition.

 

8. Experiencing the importance of community

 People from all over your community, no matter how big or small that is, visit the farmers market. Having your child interact with new faces and feel the connections between people is fantastic, no matter how old they are. Eating food grown in their community can also allow older kids to start thinking about the impacts their choices make on those in the area.

 

Ultimately, shopping at the farmers market is an opportunity to connect with your food and the people who grow it. The more you can expose your children to the idea of buying, preparing, and eating real, sustainably grown food, the better they are prepared to make great decisions about their meals and health in the future!


Image credit – Kyle Woollet/Brooks Institute

Farmers markets flourish most during summer and fall, but many are open throughout the winter and spring, offering great cool-weather veggies. To find your local farmers market, click here!

 

Written by Amanda Dunham

 

Sources: EatLocalGrown, Raising Kids With Love blog

Benefits of Eating Seasonal Produce

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With spring finally here that means farmers markets and your own gardens are back in season!  While many of us prefer to eat fresh, seasonal produce, do you know that it also has a variety of benefits as well?

It’s Healthier

In-season fruits and vegetables that have had a chance to fully ripen before they’re picked have the most nutrients. Many these nutrients often correspond to our body’s seasonal needs such as Vitamin C packed citrus peaking in the winter during cold and flu season!

It’s More Nutrient Dense

Seasonal and local foods have to travel much shorter distances than non-local fruits and vegetables, which can have to go well over 1,000 miles to get to our local supermarkets. Produce that has been picked too early and travel long distances won’t not only lack some of the essential nutrients but their appearances can also be distorted which is why many grocers rely on waxes and other finishes to help enhance the colors. 

It’s Cheaper

Seasonal foods are often cheaper than out-of-season produce because they don’t require anywhere near as much effort to produce. If it’s the right time of year, food can be pretty much left to grow on its own, which is far less labor intensive and time-consuming than procuring food out of season. Almost anything that’s in season will be plentiful!

 It Has More Flavor

Foods that have had the chance to fully, naturally ripen before they’ve been picked will taste how they’re supposed to. Have you ever compared the sweetness of a strawberry in December to one in June? Seasonal produce is full of the natural flavor intended, which makes for a more delightful meal.

Where To Buy Seasonal Produce

While you can always find seasonal produce at the grocery store, farmers markets and CSA’s are by far the best place to get local, quality produce for your family.  Here are some links to help guide you!