A few years ago, I interviewed a chef and local foods advocate and she told me the most important single thing you can do to instill an understanding for and appreciation of where food comes from, is to harvest food with them. Grow a cherry tomato plant. Go to an orchard to pick apples. It’s not about what you pick or how often; it’s enough to assure that kids “get” the connection, at least a little bit.
Anyone who has taken a kid to a strawberry patch or to pick sugar snap peas will attest that kids are more likely to try food they harvest, too. And most people would agree that time at the orchard or in the garden amongst the peas or tomatoes or berries is pretty much guaranteed fun.
This is part of Jamie Oliver’s message to parents, educators and people who care about the health of children: that sense of food coming from the earth rather than the store is a critical one for kids to grasp. The rest—willingness to try and to eat fruits and veggies and to fight for their existence in school cafeterias and neighborhood stores—follows.
But before you get to all of that, there is little more fun than pulling the berries off the plants and popping them into your mouth. I can’t say I loved the blueberry flinging that took place when my kids got bored amongst the bushes, but hey. Kids.
Even if you live in a city, take note: a pick-your-own experience can be a fantastic family activity on vacation or over a weekend. Many places list local opportunities to find farmers’ markets and pick-your-own opportunities.
Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser is a writer, whose work appears in the ebook anthology Welcome to My World, Brain Child Magazine & the Huffington Post, Babble & Bamboo Magazine amongst others. She does some blogging for Teen Life and keeps her own blog—Standing in the Shadows—at the Valley Advocate. She and her dear husband are raising four children and enduring a great deal of chaos in the relatively sleepless process.