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August 2018

6 Things Children Can Learn at the Farmers’ Market

One of the best parts about summer is the appearance of so many farmers’ markets around the GTA! Visiting the market can be a great learning opportunity for children, not to mention FUN! So bring them along and let them explore with all their senses! It’s also a chance for them to meet hardworking community members that grow our local, seasonal produce and create artisanal food products.

As they browse through booths with fresh produce, fish, meats, cheeses, baked goods and treats, there will be so much to see and discover. Take advantage of this perfect setting to teach children about

1. Eating with the seasons

Talk about how fruits and vegetables grow at certain times of year because of changing weather and the seasons and give examples. In Ontario, we anxiously wait for summertime to enjoy juicy peaches and cherries and, in the fall, we can enjoy delicious apples and sweet potatoes, to name a few. We see many types of produce in the grocery store all year-round because foods are sent to us from other countries with warmer climates. These are healthy choices too, but seasonal foods sometimes have more flavour!

2. Where their food comes from

The origins of food can be exciting for children to learn about, like the fact that fruits and vegetables are plants that begin as nothing more than a tiny seed! With the right amount of water, nutrients, sunlight, and care, they will grow into the tasty foods we eat. Some foods are made from other ingredients, like cheese, which is often made from cow’s milk, or bread, which is made with wheat that was grown in a field and milled into flour. 

3. The link between the foods we eat and our health

Nutrition and health go hand in hand and eating a variety of whole foods is the way for growing bodies to get the nutrients they need. Teach children that every food has its own unique set of nutrients and those that are naturally brightly-colored offer lots of them! By trying new things and eating a rainbow of colours at every meal, we get to enjoy delicious flavours that help us grow up to be healthy and strong!

4. Enjoying the outdoors

How often do we get to shop for groceries outside? Farmers’ markets are a great way to enjoy the beautiful weather of the season, while celebrating seasonal foods. Children can walk around and sample the offerings from different local growers and producers and ask them questions about their food!

5. Supporting our communities

With the number of farmers’ markets across Ontario on the rise, it’s becoming even easier for people to buy foods from closer to home and to build connections with the local growers and producers in their communities. By supporting a local market, we are helping to continue this cycle.

6. Selecting and preparing healthy food

Allow your child(ren) to choose some of the things you buy at the market and get them involved in the kitchen at home! Whether it’s mixing things up in a bowl, learning to use measuring cups and spoons, or chopping ingredients, basic food preparation techniques are important life skills. Children who learn these skills from a young age are more likely to build upon them as they grow older and make healthier food choices.

Looking for a Farmers’ Market near you?

 

Melissa Frankel, Registered Dietitian