July 13th, 2012

Teaching Kids Where Food Comes From

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Groovy Green Livin Organic Vegetable Garden

A while back I made a resolution to eat sustainable, locally grown food as much as possible. I’ve done my best, but it’s next to impossible to grow or find seasonal locally grown food year-round in New England.  When those cold winter months kick in there’s not a lot growing in our area and we have no choice but to depend upon local markets to bring in produce from other places.

I want my kids to know where their food comes from

The supermarkets neatly package our food and everything is ready for immediate consumption.  As we’re going up and down the aisles we generally don’t give much thought to where our food comes from.  Most food travels far to reach us- from another state or another country.  The grocery store knows no seasons-you can buy organic strawberries in December although they were grown in June and corn throughout the year. Don’t get me wrong-I’m very grateful that this produce is available year-round, but I want my kids to understand the difference.

Ways to connect with food

CSA

Many years ago we joined a CSA (consumer supported agriculture). Every week our box is filled with interesting fruits and vegetables grown on a local, organic farm. My kids are interested in what comes in the box each week and it gives us a chance to talk about where the local, seasonal food is coming from.

Farmer’s Market

I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin and spent many Saturdays going to the incredible farmer’s market. It happens to be the largest producer-only farmers’ market in the country. Now that I live on the East Coast I’ve discovered small farmer’s markets while on vacation and larger markets in neighboring towns. Farmer’s market’s can be found through out the world and they range from large to small, but they all have one thing in common: farmers selling directly to consumers without a middle man. When you buy direct from a farmer you’re recreating a connection between the land and the food you eat.

Grow your own

We decided this year to carve out a small garden in our yard and grow some of our own vegetables. HERE are a few photos of  the beginning stages of our garden. It’s extremely small since we don’t get very much sunlight around our house.  But that small patch of land has a few plants that are growing like crazy.

Groovy Green Livin organic garden

I know that our garden isn’t going to be a big producer of veggies and it’s not going to impact our weekly shopping list. Our kids are my motivation for planting a garden. They scan the garden daily looking for something ripe enough to pick. When they had friends over this week they all picked one cucumber and divided it into 5 pieces to share. It doesn’t get much better then that.

Groovy Green Livin organic cucumber

Check out this incredible plant in our garden. My friends on Facebook and Twitter helped me figure out what it is. Can you guess?

Groovy Green Livin organic zucchiniFinally we are seeing small vegetables growing on this gorgeous plant. Can you see what they are?

Groovy Green Livin organic zucchini

Looking for what’s local and seasonal in your area? There’s an app or two for that!

How do you connect with your food? Do you grow your own, go to farmer’s markets or join a CSA?

This post is part of  the another fabulous Green Moms Carnival carnival hosted this month by the wonderful Abbie of  Farmer’s Daughter.  Be sure to stop by Farmer’s Daughter next week for lots of great information on ways we can all work towards becoming more food independent.

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11 Responses to “Teaching Kids Where Food Comes From”

  1. Mmmmm zucchini! At first I was thinking the leaves look similar to our watermelon plant, except bigger.

    I picked our first eggplant yesterday. And we have been getting 4 to 5 cherry tomatoes every few days. Everybody gets one but they are not happy about that, they want more. I told them soon we will have a lot more, we just need to be patient.

  2. A step back from knowing where your food comes from is understanding what food is. I dated a man with a 9 year old daughter. I asked her what she wanted for dinner, and she replied Taco Bell or Pizza Hut. I told her that we could go to the grocery store and buy food to make, and she said that was strange, when there was food at the fast food restaurant that didn’t require preparation. Her father couldn’t find fault with her argument. The media even plays to this group, I saw a commercial where a young girl asks her parents where breakfast comes from and the mother makes up an elaborate story about breakfast fairies or some such nonsense. I grew up having home cooked meals, and I love to cook. Thankfully I have met someone else who shares my food beliefs. As I have gotten older, I have learned to use more locally grown, fresh produce in my cooking. It tastes better and makes me feel much better. In addition to growing many vegetables in pots on my patio, I go to farmer’s markets, have looked into food co-ops (there are very few where I live and I don’t eat enough food by myself for even a half share). Recently a permanent produce market opened by my apartment that has locally grown food. They proudly list their local farmers on the walls, and sometimes the local farmers are even there stocking the shelves and talking with customers. I enjoy this, and you won’t find me at the chain grocery stores buying much these days. Even the locally owned grocery stores don’t use locally grown food.

  3. Sounds like your garden is doing great Marsha. I’m guessing at some point you’ll have more cherry tomatoes than you know what to do with! Enjoy.

  4. Hi Michelle, you raise such an important point: we need to understand what real food is. You set such a wonderful example for the 9 year old girl. Maybe now she’ll question her food. A farmer’s market is a good solution for those who don’t want the larger portions a CSA or food co-op. Thanks so much for your comment.

  5. It’s easier – and more important than ever – to teach kids about real food, how it ought to be grown, and of course how to cook with it. If we care at all about their lifelong health, we will do this.

    That’s a cucumber! And zucchini. Not sure what the middle plant is because I can’t see the fruit, but based on the leaf shape and overall size it’s in the cucurbit family… cuke/squash/melon… ?

    I’m growing lemon cucumbers on my balcony and two of the four plants have just begun to unfold their beautiful yellow flowers. :)

  6. Hi Andrea! The middle plant is a zucchini plant and it’s growing like crazy. What are yellow cukes? A smaller version? I love seeing the yellow flowers -the fruit isn’t far behind!

  7. Lemon cukes are a smaller version, yes. They look like lemons but thankfully don’t taste like them, that would be strange! When I was shopping for seeds this spring, I told the person helping me that I’m restricted to growing in containers, and I wasn’t sure if it was possible to grow big plants under such circumstances. She told me that lemon cukes do just fine in containers as long as they have a trellis to grow on. I have to water the plants every day at this point, and every other day I have to “train” the plants to grow along the trellis (up one side, down the other), so it’s a lot of maintenance, but soon enough I’ll be harvesting cukes and it will be worth the effort!

  8. [...] Teaching Kids Where Food Comes From, Lori of Groovy Green Livin shares about starting a garden, joining a CSA and visiting [...]

  9. I agree … so important to involve your kiddos however you can around the home, the garden, the grocery store … so they appreciate where our food comes from, how wonderful it is to grow it ourselves and prepare it ourselves. I go a step further and make sure my munchkin gets how this is our heritage and what our ancestors were all about.

  10. Such a great point-teaching our children about how food fits in with our traditions and culture is an important piece of understanding where food comes from. It’s also so much fun to involve our children in everything having to do with food. They seem to be much more vested in eating it! Thanks so much for stopping by.

  11. [...] in shock that we actually got our act together this year and planted.  I’m also amazed that the garden is thriving (it looks like a jungle out there). Here’s what we picked this week. Impressed? I [...]

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, mom of three and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I hope you'll join me as I continue on my journey to live a healthy life. Along the way I just might stop to make some noise about issues that affect the health and safety of our families. Come along with me as I fight for a safer world for all of us. Together we'll discover that simple, small changes in your life can lead to a non-toxic, healthier lifestyle and a greener planet.

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