Does your child know where their food comes from? Here are some Top Tips to help you teach them more understanding of where food comes from.
With more and more processed foods on the market, it seems even more important to bridge the gap between farm to table. By children having a connection to where their food comes from it can help develop a healthy relationship with food and give them more appreciation and respect for the food on their plate.
Its, scary to think that some children nowadays, are unaware of where food is produced, or what certain vegetables look like, or what they are called. Also, some children don’t even know that cheese is made with milk!
As parents, we all know that kids love to learn new things and if we can help them understand where food comes from it can really help them for years to come and help them lead a healthier life.
Get planting, the kids will love it. You can corner of a patch in your garden and plant some seeds, watch it grow and best of all eat when ready! This activity is an awesome way to show how a fruit and vegetables grow from seeds we plant and that what farmers do is just on a larger scale so they can sell to the shops. Popular things to grow at home are carrots, sweetcorn, potatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, strawberries and peas. Don’t think you need a massive garden to grow your own fruit and vegetable, really you just need to use your imagination with the space you have, for example strawberries can grow in a pot, or you can also grow them in hanging baskets. Kitchen window sills tend to lend themselves well to growing herbs and not forgetting the Classic Cress in a recycled yoghurt tub!
Mastering your little garden patch is one thing, but to visit a local farm to pick your own can bring a whole other experience. This is a great way for children to visualise how what they are doing in their own garden is copied but on a bigger scale. They can see and walk the vast fields and also possibly pick and taste different types of fruit and veg, including ones that seems to be less common in shops such as gooseberries, redcurrants and blackcurrants. Of course, you don’t have to visit a farm to pick you own, you may be lucky enough to find blackberries growing wild in hedgerows, just be sure you know what you’re picking.
Whilst picking up your items on your weekly shopping list, discuss them with your child. Read food labels with your child and talk about what country the food comes from and what is included on the ingredients list. You could print off a map of the world and mark where your food that week has come from and how far it had to travel to your plate. You could talk about what is seasonal and sustainable foods. Maybe you shop from local producers, which you could explain why to your child explaining how by buying locally means a smaller carbon footprint, how eating locally means your food doesn’t have to travel as far to get to your plate. Less travel means less carbon emissions negatively impacting the environment.
It’s a fun family day out, visiting a local farm, however it is also a fab learning experience as well. Its a great way to explain to children how there are different types of farms, as some just grow crops and how some have animals. Each year there is an Open Farm Day, this year it is Sunday 10th June, its where you can visit farms you would not normally have the chance to. Your family can see how each farm has unique activities ranging from machinery displays, tractor and trailer rides, demonstrations and hands on task such as collecting eggs, see cows being milked and feeding animals. Don’t forget there is also community farms / projects that are open all year round, so you don’t have to just wait for Open Days.
Why not take your family on holiday and stay on a working farm? Our family stayed on a lovely dairy farm in Cornwall, it was a perfect base to travel to local attractions, beaches and shops, but also provided an epic experience for the kids as they got to see the cows being milked every day and they could bombard the farmer with a million and one questions! It also had one of the barns converted into a play barn with a big basketball court, trampoline, climbing frame and castle to explore. Click Here to see where we stayed and to find loads of other working farms you can stay in, most are dog friendly as well.
Shopping locally helps keep the carbon footprint of food down, it gives you fresher produce and supports local businesses. Although it is also a great chance for children to understand where food comes from and helps explain about seasonal produce here in the UK. Also another bonus to these trips is that usually on hand are people / farmers that your kids can ask questions to about the produce that you would possible have to reach for google for!
Yes, family life can be fast paced and often means we reach for the boxes in the freezer, but when we can we could make family meals from scratch. Cooking together as a family is so much fun and gives your child lovely family memories as they grow old and not forgetting you would be teaching them useful life skills, which will help them eat well when they are living on their own in years to come. Cooking with your child also provides them with first-hand experience, witnessing what goes into a meal they eat regularly. Growing appreciation for the time and effort it takes to prepare a meal, might too even make them eat more of what’s on their plate!
Kids learn so much from books, such as things like dinosaurs, horses and castles, so it makes sense to read with them so they can learn about how food grows or how a loaf of bread is made. There are great books around and here are just a few of our favourites:
Secrets of the Garden: Food Chains and the Food Web in Our Backyard – This book tells how Alice's family plants a vegetable garden each spring, and how she reports on all she sees about how the plants grow, what insects come to eat the plants, and what birds and animals come to eat the insects. It's the food chain, right in her own backyard! Even though Alice's narrative is simple and engaging, science concepts are presented in more depth in sidebars by a pair of very knowledgeable (and highly amusing) chickens!
Suggested Age Range 5 - 8 year olds
Written by science writer Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld
Available on Amazon to order Here for £5.37
How Did That Get in My Lunchbox? – This book is about how that delicious food gets in their lunchbox. From planting wheat to mixing dough, climbing trees to machine-squeezing fruit, picking cocoa pods to stirring a vat of melted bliss, this book delivers a clear, engaging look at the steps involved in producing some common foods.
Suggested Age Range is 5 - 8 year olds
Written by Chris Butterworth
Available on Amazon to order Here for £4.43
The Vegetables We Eat – This book talks about glossy red peppers, lush leafy greens, plump orange pumpkins, and delectable little peas, how vegetables come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. Leaf. . .root. . .stem. . . . These are three of the eight groups of vegetables. From how they are planted to how they get to stores, there is a wealth of information about them, including how to plant and tend your own vegetable garden.
Suggested Age Range is 4 - 8 year olds
Written by Gail Gibbons
Available on Amazon to order Here for £5.89
*All prices were correct at time of publishing this article