Summer is a great time to get kids to eat healthier because of one cool thing: the local farmer's markets. And this week is a great time to show our support in honor of National Farmer's Market Week!
Five Reasons to Visit Your Local Farmer's Markets (in Addition to Nutrition)
With food allergies and auto-immune diseases popping up more and more in my family, we are learning so much about the benefits of fresh fruits and veggies–and healthier eating in general.
Our local farmer's markets have been a great way to introduce our little ones to yummier, healthier options. Obviously, buying fresh produce directly from its source means fewer preservatives and fewer pesticides, plus it's cleaner, you know what you're getting and you can choose food that you know is organic.
While the nutritional benefits we all know about are reason enough, we are enjoying five additional benefits that extend well past the summer!
- Support and sustainability. Supporting local farmers and our local economy is so important. Our farmers need our help to compete and stay in business. I feel good supporting healthy food and healthy ways. I hope we all can support them enough to keep them going.
- Fun! Visiting the local farmer’s markets with the kids is so fun! It gives the food history and makes eating it fun. Too, farmer’s markets are social. Social inclusion with regard to healthy food, especially for families with food allergies, is so wonderful. My kids see other parents and their kids excited about picking out fruits and veggies, local bands play music, farmers bring their cute bunnies, ducks, and roosters, we run into friends, and we feel part of a fun and welcoming community. I'll never forget last summer when we arrived at the market at the very end and there weren't any flowers left to buy. All my son wanted was a flower. The farmer's daughter reached into the bucket of water and pulled out a somewhat wilted but still quite beautiful peony and handed it to him, free of charge while telling him her name and how old she was. It was the cutest thing. He beamed all the way home and didn't let it out of his hands even for a second. Oh, the story he had for papa! He still talks about it.
- Ownership. Letting the kids pick and choose what they want gives them a feeling of control, power, and ownership, which means they're more likely to eat the fruits and veggies—and try new things.
- Education. The farmers and their families at the markets also teach us things like how food is grown, the nutritional value and what’s in season. They give lessons on canning. We learn what various foods look like—and there is a lot more variety in terms of size and color than what you see at the grocery store! It’s a mindful, thoughtful experience that really gets the wheels turning and peaks the interest.
- Variety. They say variety is the spice of life, and this is certainly true where food is concerned. Farmer’s markets give us new, yummy, in-season options and lots of variety! Fruits and veggies from the farm look different and cooler than when they have all packaged up: sometimes smaller, sometimes larger, different colors! The excitement of new things and the fun involved means the kids are more likely to eat it. Just today my son asked what the small yellow fruit was. My answer: a plum! Are plums small and yellow? I could see this captured his interest.
At the end of the day, the peach and pear butter I've bought at local farmer's markets is the best I've ever tasted. If the ownership, education, variety and fun fails to get the kids engaged, the deliciousness of a product with only one or two ingredients will!
Do you enjoy your local farmer's markets? What cool things do they offer? What ideas do you have for supporting your local economy? We'd love to hear from you!