Reconnecting Our Children with Their Food

By Nature Families Writer: Carey Truebe

caleb greenhouse

In this age of obesity and disconnected families, connecting kids with their food is one of the most powerful acts we can perform as parents. It is also one of the simplest. Grow a pot of herbs on your windowsill. Eat a meal together that your child has helped prepare. Visit a local farm. Bake with your children. This page will give you a few tips, but there is so many resources out there. Finally, don’t get stuck in reading, just eat together.

Quick Tips for Cooking With Children

We need to see the experience of cooking as less of a chore and more as an opportunity for engagement in the pleasures of life with your children and with your friends.”

—Dan Barber executive chef and co-owner of Blue Hill, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and Blue Hill Farm.

  • Start simple: Granola is a great recipe for kids. You can put anything in and measuring does not have to be that precise.

  • Let children have choice

  • Get appropriate tools: There are many simple first cooking tools for kids available that make things like cutting safer.

  • Let go of expectations: it doesn’t have to be pretty remember that mushrooms cut into any shape will still cook and taste great!

green house

Gardening With Kids

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Kids love to play in the dirt and the magic of putting something in the soil and having a green thing pop out is amazing, simple and FUN!!! Here are a few tips for sharing that magic with your children…

  • Start with a few pots of herbs on a window- and use those herbs when you cook.

  • Several varieties of vegetables are designed to grow in containers on porches if you have limited yard space.

  • Have realistic expectations of how much your child can or wants to help in the garden.

  • Set up a pool or sandbox near the garden

  • Have wide, clear paths

  • Encourage children to help harvest- and to visit the garden for a snack.

tomatillo lucy pumpkins

Additional Ways to Connect Our Children to Their Food

At our house we have a large garden, laying hens, bees, make maple syrup and we raise broiler chickens. This is not something every family can, or wants to do, but there are many ways you can make these all part of your family’s experience. A regular trip to the farmers market can expose children to a large variety of vegetables. Children get excited choosing a vegetable to snack on while opening up the discussion of why there are no oranges in Maine or why the strawberries suddenly disappear. Several farms are open to the public and some states even have a state agriculture day- check out your state department of agriculture for a listing.

hands food

Helpful Book List

Here are some resources to inspire you and to give you good ideas on implementing simple changes at home to help you connect your children with their world and their food.  Food is a basic animal need and the great connector-if given an opportunity children will naturally be drawn towards exploring food and nature through growing and preparing their own food.  This can also be a place where your family makes memories and draws closer together-have fun growing, cooking and eating together!

  • The Family Dinner by Laurie David

  • The Baking Book by Jane Bull

  • Molly Katzen has several cookbooks for kids that are WONDERFUL!!!

  • Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots: Gardening together with Children by Sharon Lovejoy

nn goatslucy apple pickingIMGP0379

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