As adults we most certainly know the value of fresh fruits and vegetables. Awareness of chemicals used on food and other additives added to our food supply in stores - a lot of people are turning to organic.
Children, however, enjoy food - truly enjoy food. As parents, giving them wholesome, good for you food that they will enjoy and prefer to sugar-laden treats may be a challenge. There is one sure fire way to get you, your children, and even grand- parents cherishing the flavors of the season is to grow your own. You certainly do not need acres of land. Even a porch, patio, or any area that “containers" could be placed will grow the tastes of summer. The easiest by far for children to enjoy quickly is lettuce, strawberries, and tomatoes. They can see the sprouts as they develop, the flowers, and then the luscious fruits. Even if your child turns his nose up at fruits and vegetables, he/she can grow them for the family or to give to grandma and grandpa. When they see what treasures they can grow from a few plants or seeds, I guarantee that they will want to give their produce a fair taste as well. Even parsley, or other herbs that mom or dad use in meal preparation gives them the satisfaction of having contributed to meal time.
If gardening is not your forte, then going to Farmer Markets is the next best thing. The bright colors, awesome aromas, and the joy of seeing people truly enjoying the experience will give your children healthy food for thought. Why you can even buy a bouquet of flowers for the middle of the table at a market. Going to a store will just never be the same when this old-fashioned buying experience has been tried.
Whether you help your child grow herbs on your kitchen windowsill or have a strawberry pot on your patio - healthy and nutritious food is the goal. If you have more space, say for an old wagon you can make drain holes in, fill with dirt and plant radishes or beets, your children will be taking their sugar loving first steps to better eating and really enjoying seasonal treats instead of boxed artificial goodies.
Making food a family event instead of a chore gives everyone a new outlook on eating and eating right. Truly there is no greater sugar high then popping a cherry tomato that you just picked, still hot from the sun, in your mouth and letting the juice just squish all over. Same can be said for a ruby red straw- berry or blueberry. Food can be an adventure and it certainly can be a lesson in color, taste, and the sheer satisfaction of having “grown" it yourself. Even that little piece of parsley used on a plate as decoration is a source of pride for your little ones. It is also a great breath freshener for the adults around the table after consuming onions or garlic. Mealtime was never meant to be mundane or boring and certainly must never become a chemical laboratory of make-believe colors and flavors. It is a vital part of nature and one everyone can enjoy and reap great benefits.
This year - make food a summertime activity and even watermelon - icy cold and dripping with juice, does not have to have preservatives and words that you can't even pronounce on the label. It is just summer taste, wrapped up in its own packaging (great for the environment) and seed-spitting - well, okay it could become a game as well. Enjoy the season, enjoy the food, and rest assured you have provided your children with the best of all worlds - something that is healthy, and fun. What more could a parent ask for - you are giving them a life-time of great eating for many seasons to come.
©Arleen M Kaptur June, 2007
Arleen M. Kaptur has written many books and articles on everyday living and finding peace and joy in all we do.