By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter
Many parents face that daunting task of getting their kids to eat.
Unfortunately, kids seem to be hot wired into eating everything that is bad for them.
Pizza, hamburgers and fries fill many American kids’ plate during lunchtime.
When they get home, their taste buds are geared for that same junk and with kids’ schedules and parents’ work responsibilities the evening meal ends up coming from the restaurant you pass on the way home instead of the garden.
But what can one do when faced with such obstacles and how do you get the kids involved in their own meals?
Below are some solutions to this challenging task. While not all will work with every family, it is worth the effort to get back to nature, homemade family meals, and eating what one reaps.
• What’s for dinner? Is a question that every parent has heard but instead of turning it into a sigh change it into a teaching moment. Offer what the meat or protein source of the day will be and then go to the Farmers Market together. Allow your child to pick the produce that will go with the protein source. Encourage them to try something they have never had.
• Snack Time is another great opportunity to change the tide of chips and candy to fruits and vegetables. Again allow them to explore the Farmers Market for “snack foods.” This can slowly be carried over to one’s own garden.
• Go to the library together. Exploring the array of books that cover gardening topics abound at your local library. If you have young children, consider books like The Tale of Peter Rabbit. All this information will introduce your children to the wonderful world of gardening.
• Go through seed catalogs and/or seed suppliers together. Planning the garden space together will help get your kids involved in the gardening process. Let them pick out some seeds and/or plants they would like to grow.
• Get accessories for your kid gardeners. Purchasing your kids their own kid size gardening tools, apron and/or gloves, wheelbarrows, and extras like a worm composting bin will help keep the interest going. Also do not forget to get a special journal that you and your child can record your gardening and/or cooking time together.
• Try small and go big. Starting small or giving a child their own garden space makes the task of growing your own less tasking. A small pot of herbs is a great start for a young child. They will delight in the taste and smells of herbs. Older kids will delight in growing their own salad and root vegetables such as beets, carrots, and turnips. Many of these vegetables can be used as dual purpose. Leafs can be used for greens while the root can be roasted or eaten raw.
• Make it fun. Gardening should never be viewed as a chore but a chance to create something with your hands. Once the garden takes off, let the kids pick out the snacks for that special family movie night from the garden verses the chip aisle.
The ultimate key to getting your kids involved in gardening is getting involved yourself. As a wise friend of mine used to say, modeling behavior will become everyday behavior that everyone will mimic. I truly believe this saying whether this behavior be growing your own food or eating your vegetables.
So until we blog again, nothing is more sweet then the carrot from one’s own garden.