This month we continue our focus on the importance of education in fostering healthy eating habits for our children. The beautiful thing is that nature makes this easy for us. We don’t have to go farther than our local farmer’s market to see what fruits and veggies are ripe, in-season, and ideal for incorporating into our family’s daily diet!
One of the best seasonal guides we’ve come across is by Epicurious.com. It is an interactive map that tells you what’s in season where you live. You can access it here: http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/seasonalcooking/farmtotable/seasonalingredientmap
What Does “Eat Local” Really Mean?
You hear it over and over again – Eat Local! Farm to Table! Eat in Season! Truth is, the definition is really whatever you want it to be – eating local can mean eating within a 50, 100, or 500 mile radius from your home. The term “locavore” is someone who primarily or exclusively eats foods grown or made within a 100 mile radius. However, eating local can also mean eating foods just from the U.S.A. The rule of thumb is to eat foods grown or made as close to home as you realistically can, while still having the variety of foods you need to properly fuel your family.
Whatever your definition, there are many benefits to eating locally:
- Peak qualities of freshness, nutrition, and taste
- Fewer chemicals needed to transport or stabilize food
- Helps fight global warming, reduce carbon footprint
- Helps the local economy and local small business
- Keeps your family in touch with the seasons
- Makes a wonderful story about the food on your plate
- Expands your menu with new, local varieties
Unfortunately, our country’s improvements in food science have removed us from the source and origin of foods so much that many children don’t see the connection between their diet and nature. Even seeing carrots with the green tops is enough shock factor for some children used to seeing primarily prepackaged, shelf-stable products. Venturing out to see the source of local foods improves that line of sight and creates much more excitement to your family’s mealtime than a trip down Aisle 9 ever could.
Where Can I Buy Local Foods?
One of the best ways to buy local produce is to visit a farmer’s market in your area. Make sure the kids tag along – talking to farmers about their crops and seeing the fresh produce will help increase a child’s appreciation of the origins of food. There’s nothing that expands your child’s culinary horizons more than seeing a potato with all the dirt on it or eggs that were laid just 24 hours before or nine different varieties of lettuce all in a row. In addition to farmer’s markets, a great way to introduce your children to local produce is to do a family farm tour, or a farm to table dinner, or go to a u-pick farm and pick it yourselves!
Local Harvest offers an interactive guide to assist you in finding farmer’s markets in your area. All you need to do is type in your zip code here: http://www.localharvest.org/farmers-markets/
You can find good information on local u-picks here: http://www.pickyourown.org/
Some beautiful foods are making their way to us this fall, and you will see many of them on the Wholesome Tummies fall seasonal menu including: pumpkins, apples, sweet potatoes, broccoli, spinach, and grapes. Be sure to try them out before they’re gone!