Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Outdoor Adventures: The Farmer's Market by Erin Uda

(Click HERE for image source)
 This week we’re taking another field trip.
We’re headed to your local farmers market.

On your way there, discuss with your child the different food groups along with either the food pyramid, found HERE, or the new ‘my plate’ option, found HERE.  I suggest printing them out so your child can view them while you travel.  You can also begin to talk with your child about food; options include where it comes from, how it grows, which foods are healthy to eat, the difference between fruits and vegetables, how long they take to grow, which foods are available at different times during the year, and how our food gets to our plate.

When you get to the market, take your time looking around at the variety of foods available.  Talk about the colors, and how it’s important to ‘eat the rainbow.’  Let your child explore on her level; encourage touching and tasting as much as possible.  Continue talking about food, using the questions above.

While you walk, play a couple of games.  Use flashcards, found HERE, to find the components of different meals while you wander; helping your child relate the items in front of her to the food she eats.  Put the cards together in different combinations to show her how you use different foods to make a full meal.  Or use a checklist and ‘discover’ as many items as you can.  You can use the list above that can be found HERE, or make your own using foods your family uses on a regular basis.

(Click HERE for this recipe.)
If you can, bring home some fresh produce from the market.  You can use these items to create a meal at home.  Take the opportunity to host a mini-cooking class for your child or family.  Use a well-loved recipe, or try the resources below for some fresh ideas.

You could also visit a working farm.  I love sites like THIS one, which has a list of pick-your-own farms all over the country.  This particular site is a bit cluttered, but it’s easy enough to scroll down and click on your state.  It’s definitely worth the trouble for the information they provide, which also includes some farmers markets and fruit stands.

**For older children, you could add any of the following activities:

Most of the people selling at a farmers market grow their produce organically.  Discuss the impact and effect of pesticides on our food, both on our general health and on the appearance of the food.  It may be interesting to research this together using the internet.

Eating local has been a big trend lately, for many reasons.  Programs like Jaime Oliver and his Food Revolution are educating us on how to get healthy food from natural sources.  Click HERE to learn more about Jaime’s initiative.

Involve your child in adding more fruits and vegetables to the family menu; work together to find new, healthy recipes that focus on these items.

Recommended Books

  • The very hungry caterpillar, Eric Carle
  • Alphabet soup: A feast of letters, Scott Gustafson
  • How to make an apple pie and see the world, Marjorie Priceman
  • Eating the alphabet: fruits & vegetables from A to Z, Lois Ehlert
  • Audrey’s vegetable garden, David A. Moran
  • Kids in the garden: growing plants for food and fun, Elizabeth McCorquodale
  • Farmers Market, Paul Brett Johnson

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