9 Tips for Raising Kids who LOVE to Eat & Live Seasonally
It’s only natural for parents to want to share what they love with their children. That goes for games, sports, music and food. That last one, food, can sometimes be a challenge. Kids can be naturally skeptical of trying new foods.
Be that as it may, there’s plenty parents can do to aim at helping their kids not only enjoy different foods, but thrive with local, seasonal eating. We brainstormed and came up with nine tried-and-true ways to raise locavore kids.
Most kids prefer, and even love, hands-on learning. This is especially true with something like food where taste, smell and texture are a major part of the experience. So, many of the suggestions below mean jumping in alongside your little ones!
Let Them Prep & Cook with You
No matter what age, kids can help you in the kitchen. Whether it’s washing vegetables and getting something from the fridge, or chopping ingredients and warming up a pan.
Including children throughout the entire process from start to finish (as attention spans allow) is richly rewarding. It may take a little longer than normal, so it’s best to do it when you can allow for extra time. The result though is that kids get a full understanding of what it means to make their favorite foods, and all the joyful work that goes into it.
Who knows, they may even want to help you in the kitchen next time!
Highlight Each Season & Its Unique Ingredients
Having four seasons means that with each change of the weather comes a whole new set of crops and bounty. Along with that you can emphasize different cooking methods with your kids as well.
In the summer raw and grilled foods are abound, while the winter months bring stews, roasts and braises.
As a farmer’s offerings and CSA shares change throughout the growing season little ones can learn about what the earth provides throughout the year.
Let Them See Living Food Plants!
Kids love animals, and it turns out they love plants too. Once a child sees a broccoli plant or tomatoes growing they never look at those items the same again. For the same reason we get up close with animals, it’s important to get hands-on with food plants. It’s a source of wonder that might just spark more in your child than you realize!
Learn about the Plant Life Cycle Together
It’s very common for children to wonder how things work. That’s part of why kids often ask so many questions. Dispel the mystery of food plants by teaching your kids about the life cycles of different kinds. From apple tree to kale, to peppers and rosemary, each plant is unique!
Tasting doesn’t mean you have to eat it. It does mean adventure though! Deep down kids love trying new things—especially when it’s in the right environment. One idea is to throw a “tasting party” where the whole family (and maybe friends too) get to try a whole bunch of new foods together. Ask about allergies ahead of time, and plan for fun!
Visit Your Local Farmer
When you visit your friendly local farmer it’s a field trip that allows kids to explore a new world. The same way little ones love visiting firehouses and baseball stadiums, they can have an absolute blast visiting the fields where local food is grown. Bonus: they can ask real farmers earnest questions about the foods they eat (and how they grow!).
Make Traditions Based on Family Favorites
Seasonal food traditions can hold the same special place that after-school, holiday and birthday traditions do. Food is a sensory experience that captures the imagination, and for many, nostalgia. Start those memories early with your kids by noting what they like and creating fun, repeatable family traditions that are centered around the seasons and their favorite foods.
Plant and Harvest Food Together
It doesn’t get more hands on than this! Once they’ve helped in the kitchen, learned about the plant life cycles and visited a farm they’ll be ready to grow their own food! Or before (why not?). It doesn’t matter how much space you have. It could be one plant in a pot, and your kids will be delighted to help something grow and watch it create food that you can harvest together.
Preserve Food & Teach Them About Preserving
Preserving teaches kids another side of food altogether. Humans have depended on preserving techniques to create surplus food for a very long time. They’re also some of our favorites! Pickles, cheese, jams and dried fruit are all good examples of popular preserved foods. Even if all you do is freeze berries for the winter, your kids will love learning about how and why it works (and most of all enjoying the fruits of their labor later!).