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The earlier we teach our children about the cycle of life and how we obtain the food we eat the better. If you ask most youngsters where food comes from, they will say the grocery store. Of course, we are amused. But many children in today’s society do not have a clue what goes into the food they are eating, how much effort it took to produce it, or that food is fuel to help them grow.
We have all had them. Our child, niece or nephew, or grandchild who suddenly will not eat anything but mac and cheese. If you do not give them mac and cheese, they go into a melt down. It is difficult to handle this situation because the child has to eat, and you know he needs more nutrition.
Teachable and edible moments
In our history, virtually every child understood that in order to eat, the garden had to be tended, livestock had to be taken care of and that products like butter, fruits, and dried foods required a lot of work. Today’s child may grow up in an environment that never introduces them to farming. Yet, farming is essential to him and all of us.
Begin by explaining where foods come from. Let your child help you with the groceries. Teach them about the differences in fresh food versus canned or dried foods. When you have their interest, pull up some places on your computer and show them what area in the world produces the most coffee, citrus, and other foods.
Lead the way
The best way to explain gardening to your child is to put in a preschooler friendly edible garden. You can start with a small patch of ground and select the seeds together. Get them involved. Let them handle the seeds, plant them, and water them. Explain the nutritional needs the garden has and where is comes from. If you don’t know these things, it is a great time to learn. Download some free gardening apps to help you.
Tips to getting your child to try foods
- Plant easy foods that your child may like.
Cucumbers, carrots, strawberries, and blueberries are among the choices. These are easy plants, and your child can help plant, water, harvest, and clean them. After all that work, and with some high praise from you, they will want to enjoy eating the foods.
- Insect and bugs
Gardens attract bees, worms, bugs, and other critters. Now is a great time to show your child that bugs have a job to do. They are not an enemy. Watch them work in the soil. There is no better way to teach your child that everything has a purpose, and there is no reason to fear.
- Use the plate map
Draw a line down the center of a paper plate. Let your child use crayons or stickers to fill up half the plate with fruits and vegetables. The other half is for meat and bread. Let them decorate the plate and then hang it near where they eat. This will help them see that they are eating the right amounts of food. When you give a child just a little encouragement and authority, he will take it to new heights.
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Make it a group activity
Let your child’s friends get in on the activity. If you are having a birthday party for your child, consider blank seed envelopes for seed storage and seed packet favors. Your child will be the center of attention, and he will share his knowledge with his peers. There is no better way to get the whole neighborhood on board. Maybe, you can plant a community garden.
Once your child learns first-hand about food and he actually grows it himself, he will be more willing to try the foods. This is a healthy family activity. If more families will do this, we can see an end to obesity in our children.