Farmer’s markets are something my family waits all winter for. For us, these markets scream SUMMER and all the yummy treats that go with it. It’s a great family activity and a good way to teach your kids about the importance of good nutrition. The following are 10 tips for taking kids to farmer’s markets:
1. HELP PLAN MENUS: Kids will be more likely to eat a meal if they helped plan it. Each week, give them a new course off the menu to plan. For example, each week they can plan the main dish, a side, or a dessert. Give them full rein on it and although you can offer suggestions, let them do most of the work. Whatever they plan, they will be responsible for helping cook.
2. TRY SOMETHING NEW: Give each person in the family the task of choosing something your family has never tasted. Is there a type of cheese that looks interesting? Is there a veggie that looks odd? Have them ask the farmer for suggestions on how to cook it.
3. PRACTICE RESPONSIBILITY: Give your kids a job while at the market. Give everyone reusable bags and have them hold your purchases. Teach them how to choose ripe produce or give them the task of paying.
4. LOCALLY GROWN FOOD: Discuss how far fruits and vegetables need to travel from their farm to get to you. Have them ask the farmers where their land is located. Take the time to discuss how food is seasonal, and why there are different food at the market as the summer goes on.
5. NUTRITIONAL VALUE: Farmer’s markets are a good opportunity to discuss how grocery stores are not always the best places to buy food. Discuss the difference between organic produce and ones that use hormones, pesticides, and GMO’s.
6. TALK TO FARMERS: Farmers are a wealth of knowledge and most are pleased to talk to kids about their job. Encourage your kids to ask them questions about their farm, their animals, or their products. When you’re driving home, talk to them about the importance of eating local food to financially support your community.
7. PRACTICE MATH: I know…I know…math…it’s summer! As parents, we know the best way to get kids to study is the age-old strategy of trickery! Have your kids weigh the produce, calculate the cost, and count out the change. A fun challenge is to give them a set amount of money and have them use it to create an entire meal. They won’t even know they’re doing math (insert evil laugh).
8. RAINBOW OF COLOR CHALLENGE: Variety is the spice of life. It is also the best way to get the most vitamins and nutrients from your vegetables. Challenge your kids to find one vegetable from each color of the rainbow.
9. CHECK OUT LOCAL GOODS: There are many non-food items at a farmer’s market. Our favorite market, in Wolfeboro, NH, has candles, flowers, organic bug spray, and soap. One of my favorite booths has the best spices. I put their rosemary salt on everything!
10. GO FOR LUNCH: Make the market an experience that includes lunch. There are often food vendors at markets and it’s a delicious time to try some local food. There is a great vendor at our market that allows you to make your own smoothie by using a bicycle to blend it. It’s such a fun way to get a tasty treat!
-Go early in the day for the best picks.
-Want to save money? Some booths lower their prices towards the end of the day.
-Bring your own bags.
-Try the samples. My kids go through the market eating every single sample. You may discover something new you’ll love.
-Compliment people if you like their product, even if you don’t plan to buy it. It takes guts to sell something you’ve grown or made and they will appreciate your words of kindness.
-Carry cash because not all booths will take credit cards. You may also want to bring small bills.