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

7 Tips for Washing Fruits and Vegetables

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Photo credit: Jim Belford

In our fast-paced lives, sometimes it’s difficult to choose fresh produce options and take the time to prepare them, let alone wash them properly. But washing is a crucial step in maintaining the safety of our food, especially since most of it has traveled across many miles and passed through many hands before finally reaching our plates.

Taking a few extra seconds to cleanse your produce of bacteria and other potentially harmful microorganisms is easy to do if you have a few different options to choose from. Here are seven tips for washing various fruits and vegetables:

1. Wash your hands first! It seems like a no-brainer, but it’s also easy to forget. Many foodborne illnesses are the result of cross-contamination from unclean hands, rather than from the food item itself.

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2. Firm produce with peels, such as apples or cucumbers, are a good candidate for scrubbing with a produce brush underneath cool running water. This can help loosen and remove dirt more effectively than water alone. Produce with grooves on the surface, such as cantaloupe, are especially important to brush because of the microorganisms that can become trapped in each cranny. Produce brushes come in all different shapes in sizes, but any basic brush with stiff bristles will work.

3. Always wash the outside of your fruit or vegetable, even if you don’t eat the outer portion–for example, melons, kiwi, or squash. Bacteria from the surface of the food can enter the edible portion while slicing, or become cross-contaminated on the cutting board.

4. For softer produce like berries, rinse and toss repeatedly in a colander under cold running water until evenly washed.

5. For firm produce, another method of washing is to mix one part vinegar (can be either white or apple cider vinegar) with three parts water, then either spritz or soak your produce and let them sit for about ten minutes before rinsing with water alone. The acidity of the vinegar kills bacteria while the rinse afterwards gets rid of the strong vinegar flavor and remaining debris.

6. Greens can be more difficult to wash due to their layers and texture, so letting them soak in a bowl of cold water helps loosen dirt and other microorganisms before rinsing under the faucet. You can also use the vinegar mixture, but this may effect the texture of some leafy greens. Blot dry with paper towels or use a salad spinner to remove excess moisture.

7. What about the produce washes you find in bottles at the store? The FDA doesn’t recommend these products, and some research has shown that they remove the same amount of bacteria as distilled water, making their comparatively high cost not worth it.

Enjoy your fresh produce to the fullest by making sure it’s as clean and safe as possible. Even little ones can help–let them explore the different textures as you show them how to rinse!

Written by: Lauren Mesaros

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