Teaching Children Where Food Comes From


 Every summer we have the good fortune of driving by farms while on our way to cottage country.  As we pass by these beautiful landscapes, I find myself wondering if the luxuries of modern city life are harmful to me and my children.  I am not referring to the harm of city pollution or rising gun violence (also not great).   What I'm thinking about is the harm of overly accessible food and the lack of understanding of how that food gets to us.

To my children, food emerges as if by some miracle.  Save for the annual trip to the apple orchard, groceries magically appear in the supermarket. 

 The ga-billion-dollar (I believe that's an exact number) ad industry targets children to purchase infinite packaged foods to feed their bottom line.   I am not capable of meeting every one of my childrens’ needs.    I am not a specialist in a lot of things (most things), but food is where I excel, and I cannot help but feel as though it is my responsibility to educate them and arm them with the ability to combat these constant messages.  The question is, how?  Discovering that certain foods grow from a seed in the ground can be eye-opening for many kids, especially if they have never seen a vegetable garden before.   While they may know that vegetables grow in soil, I'm not sure if they appreciate this in the way that helping with planting and watering would achieve.  Perhaps I am being naïve or simplistic (optimistic?) in thinking that growing a family herb garden will help my children to become less affected by ads for colourful tubes of yogurt, but at a minimum, they will begin to understand how much effort goes in to creating the amount of food that ends up in the grocery store.

 Here are the activities I have done (and plan to do) with my children and some of the products I’ve found as I embark on this mission to build their awareness of agriculture and whole foods. What kind of things do you do or plan to do to teach your kids about where food comes from?

  •  Grow a vegetable or herb garden with your kids

In the warmer weather and if you have a backyard by all means, take that veggie garden to the outdoors but know that it is still an option for people living in buildings without access to green space and in colder seasons. I plan to select an indoor option because I live in Canada and, you know, it is freakin cold here for most of the year.

AeroGarden Bounty with Herb Seed Pod Kit *
Be warned pricey ($380) but very cool. There is also a wifi option available as well ($499).

 AeroGarden LED Grow*
This one is less expensive ($148) and also gets great reviews.

 Umbria Giardino Indoor Garden Set*
Way less tech involved here, less expensive ($48) and will teach kids the basics. It’s also pretty!

  •    Visit a farm and pick your own seasonal produce

Check out some great places to go. You can even find out what’s in season to pick!

United States

  • Put those kids to work in the kitchen!

I am a big fan of teaching children how to cut and help out in the kitchen at a young age. Both my son and daughter (4 and 5 years old) have their own set of knives and a vegetable peeler. I am always present when they are using them and have shown them proper knife handling skills. Here are some great kits you can try:

Master Chef Knife & Cutting Board Set*
$28 and includes cutting boards, size appropriate knives and recipes cards

 Opinel Le Petit Chef Complete Box Set *
The Knife has a rounded tip and a ring that helps position those little fingers and keep them from slipping onto the blade (ouch!).  

I have the Curious Chef* 3-piece vegetable prep kit, but I’m not very fond of it. I wish I had bought the Opinel Le Petite Chef Set.

  • Read about food together

  • Follow Your Stuff by Kevin Sylvestor and Michael Hlinka
    In the spirit of understanding not just where our food comes from but other items that we take for granted I just ordered this book. It may be a bit complicated for my little ones, but I think we can discuss it and my husband and I can explain anything they don’t understand. I will let you know how it goes.

    How Does My Garden Grow by Gerda Muller
    Love this one and great for kids as young as kindergarten

    Where Does Broccoli Come From by Arielle Dani Lebovitz
    Lots of information and pictures in this one. Great for older kids.

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