For many parents, getting kids to eat their vegetables is a constant struggle.
Like most kids, I wasn’t the most adventurous eater growing up, but I would eat anything that I had grown myself. Research shows that I am not alone. Studies have found that children are five times more likely to eat salad when they have been involved in growing it themselves.
You can certainly use the farmers market to inspire kids to plant a vegetable garden. They can pick up the plants they need and get tips on how to care for them. Unless your kids have a much greener thumb than I did however, it is probably not going to meet their daily nutrition needs.
Shopping at the farmers market is the next best thing. The key is in building a connection between kids and the food they are eating.
The market can be like a classroom for your children. Kids are naturally curious, and our farmers are proud of the work they do and happy to talk about it. It’s a match made in parent heaven.
A bit of prompting can get them thinking about their questions beforehand — where their food comes from and how it is made. Encourage them to write a list of the questions they have and then let them loose. They not only develop connections to the food they eat, but also to the community that provides it.
The farmers market also offers the chance for kids to experience a variety of foods they may not normally see or taste. Even if a child doesn’t eat it, we know that exposure to new foods is what counts.
Most children need five to 10 exposures before accepting a new food. Let kids choose one item to buy that they have never tried before. Whether or not they can bring themselves to taste it, the first hurdle in increasing vegetable consumption is simply getting kids to put them on their plate.
All too often grocery shopping with children can take the joy out of cooking, but shopping at your local farmers market can turn the tables and make it a fun family activity. While you load your basket up, your little ones can take in story time, get their wiggles out with some local bands and make a farmers market themed craft. It not only takes the stress out of shopping, kids also develop positive associations between healthy food and a fun outing.
Keep an eye out as well for the bouncy house, a visit from the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center and Tomato Day, which are all coming up over the market season.
If that’s not enough you can create your own fun. Get them do a farmer’s market scavenger hunt. Perhaps they have to find a food that grows underground, one that grows on trees and one that grows on a vine. Or put together your shopping list and let the kids try to find everything on it.
Doesn’t that sound more fun than wrestling the candy bar out of your little one’s hands at checkout?
Fourth of July popsicles
- 4 oz. strawberries
- 4 oz. blueberries
- 8 oz. yogurt
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 4 oz. coconut milk
- 4 oz. heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons shredded coconut
Freeze 4 ounces of strawberries (or other red berry) and 4 ounces of blueberries. Blitz strawberries in a food processor or blender for 30 seconds. Add 8 ounces yogurt and 1 tabelspoon honey and set aside. Repeat with the blueberries.
In a third bowl, combine 4 ounces coconut milk, 4 ounces heavy cream, 1 tabelspoon maple syrup and 2 tablespoons shredded coconut. Fill popsicle molds one third of the way up with the strawberry mixture. Freeze until slushy. Insert a popsicle stick and return to freezer until completely frozen.
Add coconut mixture to two thirds full and freeze again until solid. Finish with the blueberry mixture.
Candice Gillmore resides in the Linden Hills neighborhood with her husband and two children and serves on the board of directors for Neighborhood Roots.