When my daughter was just over a year old, she had a favorite library book that she asked me to read to her over and over again every night – “Apples, Apples.” As many children do, she loved the repetitive rhythm of the book, which told of a bear family that visited an apple orchard.
After about the ten thousandth reading of the book (I can still quote it from memory!), something clicked in my brain: Why not take her to a real apple orchard and live out the “Apples, Apples” book? So we packed her up one sunny fall day and headed out to a nearby apple orchard.
She loved being held up by my husband to pluck a ripe apple right from the branch and then immediately sample its crisp red skin – but what really stood out for me on that day was the realization that I had shown her exactly where apples come from, and how they’re grown.
Even at this young age, she could understand the origins of her food and know that apples didn’t really come from bags at the supermarket – they came from lush green trees, growing just a car ride away.
On a regular basis, I try to make an effort to point out whole, fresh foods whenever we might see them: at the grocery store, on a TV show (cooking shows are great for this!), and right in our own kitchen. I usually keep root vegetables like potatoes, onions and garlic on a cart in our kitchen, and they’re right at eye level for my daughter – so it’s common for her to wander into the kitchen, pick something up and ask, “What’s this?” If she doesn’t ask, I’ll occasionally ask her to hand me a sweet potato or something else from the cart – and if she’s having a hard time identifying which is which, it provides a great quick opportunity for me to share the names of the vegetables and how I prepare them for us to eat.
So what’s our next food field trip? I’m planning to take her to Calder’s Dairy Farm soon to see the cows that produce their delicious milk (I have been absolutely HOOKED on their chocolate milk during this pregnancy!), and this summer, I’m hoping to visit at least a few u-pick farms so that she can choose – and taste – the freshest strawberries, raspberries and blueberries she can find, right from the vines and bushes. Of course, Mommy might have to sneak a few from her basket as well!
What other ways do you show your children where their food comes from?
By Kate Storey, Michigan Mama