Fresh local market produce is filling the shelves. It is a great time to step out of the grocery store and teach kids where their food comes from.
Every week, like many families, we head to the grocery store and fill up our food supplies. I am amazed at the number of prepared, processed and canned food options. Waiting in line at the checkout counter, I marvel at the loads of these items that families pile into their carts. When I see frozen fish sticks, I recall the story of inner city kids saying that fish came in little rectangles. Are our prepared, processed and canned food shopping habits disconnecting us from where our food comes?
Summertime gives us fabulous opportunities to reconnect with our food sources. It provides plenty of ways to teach our kids the food chain, our place in it and our responsibilities.
We are just at the end of strawberry season. Taking a trip to the pick-your-own strawberry fields is a great experience. Of course, the kids eat about as much as they pick – but that is part of the fun. They learn how the fruit grows and the work that goes into picking them.
Fresh produce is abundant at this time. A regular trip to a local farmer’s market is an excellent way to connect with the growing cycle. Every week, the kids can see what fruits and veggies are in season. Instead of hardball tomatoes from Chili, you can savor the flavours of a fresh one. There is nothing more exotic that biting into a full warm tomato just as you would an apple. When we’d buy yellow beans, we had to buy twice as much because my daughter would eat one pint on the drive back home.
The seasonal abundance is a way to introduce your family to the pleasures of home canning. Making your own tomato sauce or jams guarantees that they will remember the experience throughout the year. Every time you open a jar of jam, you appreciate the taste and your satisfaction in making it yourself. It is as if you’ve preserved summer. My kids still appreciate getting a jar of jam from Mum.
Going fishing makes you appreciate where your source of protein comes from. Having to clean and fillet the fish links you into the food chain. Sitting in the boat gives you the time to talk about how fish eat other smaller life forms and how we consume them. And by the way we are not the only ones wanting the fish. I was fishing with the kids in the James Bay region and not catching anything. Suddenly, a seal popped up 20 meters away from our boat. He’d eaten all the fish in that area.
The summer lets us step out from the grocery store. We can get out and get closer to our fresh food sources. In so doing, we teach our kids important lessons about healthy eating and our place the cycle of life.