Ask your children where their food comes from. What was their answer? The refrigerator, a box, or maybe a drive through window. Most children today have never visited a farmer’s market, much less a farm. We need to change that and start to “grow green kids”.
Do they know that most of our food travels around 1500 miles from farm to plate? Sometimes a food grown in your own state travels to another to be processed and packaged before returning. Many companies have found that it is more profitable to even buy produce from another country, pick it before it is anywhere near ripe, and ship it hundreds of miles where it is stored before reaching you.
The family farm is in danger of being wiped out, while huge agribusinesses owned by corporate giants are taking over our agriculture.
There has been a resurgence in the last few years of farmer’s markets popping up everywhere, but even with food within driving distance, most people continue to purchase food that was grown with questionable practices.
If you want to teach your kids where their food comes from, support family farms, provide your family with fresh food, an instill an appreciation of the hard work that goes into growing it , here are some things you can do to grow your own green kids.
Visit a local farm where food is grown with organic methods, animals are treated humanely, and raised free range.
Free range, or pastured chickens, are not only happier, they are healthier. USDA data shows that eggs from these chickens contain:
- 1/3 less cholesterol
- 1/4 less saturated fat
- 2/3 more vitamin A
- Two times more omega-3 fatty acids
- Three times more vitamin E
- Seven times more beta carotene
Introducing your kids to animals on a farm may lead to many questions about where meat comes from, and could be distressing. When talking to them, don’t over explain, or try to talk them out of being upset. Answer truthfully, that yes the animal dies, but it happens quickly, and it isn’t afraid. Many people choose to eat meat, but wish to obtain it from someone who raised it ethically, and insured it’s death was humane.
Let your kids go into the gardens and see the plants before they are picked. Talk about how the seed was planted, how the farmer had to work hard caring for the plant, and that it was picked at just the right time for them to buy. Let your child plant a vegetable and take care of it. Eating their own fresh vegetable from a seed they planted will make it taste twice as good.
Do you know a local beekeeper? Ask if you can watch (at a safe distance), when he inspects his hive. Seeing hundreds of bees working to make honey is a great experience for kids.
If it’s time to gather honey, maybe you could help uncap and remove the honey from the frames. There’s nothing like the taste of honey directly from the hive!
And lastly, lead by example. Buy locally and support your neighborhood farmer.
Grow Green Kids!
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