Monday, September 23, 2013

Teach Your Children about Seasonal Food

Eating with the seasons as a family will teach your children the connection between their food and nature’s cycles.

Drawing of apples

Caring for your body and caring for the earth can often be achieved at once. For example, eating locally and seasonally reduces our carbon footprint and also offers your body the nutrients it needs at that time of year.

This is a great lesson for kids to learn. Encourage your children to ask questions about their food and make it a family goal to eat local this year. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Visit your local farmer’s market and experience seasonal foods with all your senses. Have your kids ask the farmers questions about how the food was grown. Choose a new fruit or vegetable to try each week and get creative in the kitchen.
  2. As you eat through each season, have your kids draw the foods you’ve been eating and make a collage on your fridge. At the end of each season you’ll have a fun way to reflect on the new foods you tried.
  3. Get your kids out in the garden. Together, plant a few simple veggies (such as cherry tomatoes, snap peas or cucumbers) in your yard. Send your kids out to harvest your veggies for dinner, and incorporate them into meals. You’ll be surprised what kids will try (and like!) if they grow it themselves.
  4. If you don’t have a backyard space, there’s a lot you can do in pots on a porch, balcony or windowsill. Plant herbs and let your kids add them to different dishes or make their own flavored teas to learn about the unique flavors they offer.

Eating with the seasons as a family will teach your children the connection between their food and nature’s cycles. And respect for that connection will foster a respect for the earth and how we care for it.

— By Charlotte Watts, Bastyr dietetic intern, and Debra Boutin, MS, RD, chair and dietetic internship director, Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.

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