There are a few questions I like to throw out there with kids when they’re eating – Questions like, “Do you know where your food came from?” often followed by, “Do you have any more? I’m hungry…”
A great way for you and your kids to get acquainted with where your food comes from is to visit a local Farmers’ Market – putting a face to the food (so to speak).
Here is a handy list of Farmers’ Markets near you: http://farmersmarkets.org.au/markets (applies if you live in Australia – other countries will have similar sites)
Besides meeting the folks that pick your pears from their pear trees, dig your potatoes out of the ground, and collect your eggs from their chickens, you also get to sample some seriously fresh, local produce. Yum!
Additionally, it turns out that including locally grown food in your family’s diet has quite a lot of benefits.
Here are a few to whet your appetite:
- Locally grown food is jam packed full of flavour. When grown locally, crops are picked at their peak of ripeness, which is why they taste so good. On the other hand, crops that are shipped from far away are often harvested early (picked before they are ripe) because of the long distance they have to travel to get to you.
- Eating local food means you are eating with the seasons. Even though I wish some foods (I’m a big fan of plums) were grown all year round, the best time to eat them is when they can be purchased directly from a local grower – and they’re usually cheaper too!
- Local food is often more nutrient-dense. Local food has a shorter time from harvest to your table, leaving less time for the nutrient value to decrease. Food imported from faraway places is often older, has travelled and been stored in distribution centres before it gets to your shop.
- Local food supports the local economy. When you spend your money with local farmers and growers, it all stays in your local community. And when you support your community, your community is better able to support you (Sister Act 2 taught me that).
- Local food benefits the environment. By purchasing locally grown foods you help maintain farmland in your community, reduce the amount of fuel used in the transportation of your food, and also help reduce the need for excess packaging of your food.
- Local growers can tell you (and your kids) how the food was grown. You can ask farmers directly what practices they use to raise and harvest their produce. You can even get answers to your 3 year old’s many repetitions of “Why?”. When you know where your food comes from and who grew it, you know a lot more about that food.
- Local foods may even promote a safer food supply. The more steps there are between you and your food’s source the more chances there are for contamination, especially when that food is mass produced.
The best part is, at a Farmers’ Market you can easily infuse some “fooducation” with your kids getting more involved with the food they’re eating (not to mention there’s often kid specific activities set up like face painting), AND you get to do your shopping outdoors.
So why not give locally grown food some love and watch it love you back!