5 Ways that Farmer’s Markets Teach Kids about Food

On Monday, the WIC office was packed with only a few hours in between the morning and afternoon groups. It  was our Farmer’s Market Coupon Giveaway Day, All of us were on our feet taking turns between education and crowd control! I was able to share with my clients much of what I’ve been writing about over the past few months especially the benefits to their children.

Through Farmer’s Markets kids learn about food by:

1.) Learning about sustainability/agriculture

Kids will learn where their food comes from and how it’s grown!

2.) Interacting with local farmers

Kids will learn so much from listening to local farmer’s talk about their crops/farms.

3.) Enjoying Seasonal Eating

Kids will learn how the environment effects what food is grown and where.

4.) Identifying different fruits and vegetables

Farmer’s Markets are a classroom where kids will be exposed to a variety of produce, both ones they know and ones they don’t know.

5.) Incorporating fruits and vegetables into family meals

By preparing foods found at Farmer’s Markets kids will learn how the food process works from beginning to end.

The next blog will be about how to prepare for a farmer’s market. Having a game plan is a necessity for large and small families alike, especially ones with small children.

9 Benefits of Farmer’s Markets

One of the best parts of a farmer’s market  is that you get to support locally grown food and your community. By doing so you:

1.)  Shorten the distance between farm and table –  From your farmer’s hands to yours = very simple

There aren’t too many things that beat being able to go down to your local farmer, pick your own produce, and eat it the same day.  (At least, there aren’t too many for a Nutritionist!) First, it’s fresher. Second, it didn’t have to travel half way round the world for you to get it. And third,  you know where it came from.

2.) Decrease environmental pollution

By decreasing travel you decrease air pollution.

3.) Preserve nutrients 

The further a food travels the greater the length of time a food will remain on the shelf, and the more likely the nutrients in that food may be lost.

4.)  May decrease pesticide exposure

This is not always the case because even local farmer’s use some pesticides. The upside, is that fewer may be used and some may be more “natural” than the ones used by larger farms.  You still have to wash your produce though! This leads me to my next benefit.

5.) Get to Know your Farmers

Taking the time to learn about your local farmers means you get to learn what’s being offered in your community, what foods are commonly grown in which regions, and how those foods are being grown. There’s just more transparency.

6.) Support the Economy

By buying produce and other goods at a farmer’s market revenue tends to stay in the community thus boosting the economy. Not to mention that for larger farmer’s markets it opens up more job opportunities within the community.

7.) Save Farmland

The more people visit farmer’s markets the greater the demand, and the more likely it is that farmers will continue farming. It’s supply and demand. Very similar to how I might advise a mom that the more she breastfeeds the more milk she has for her baby.

8.) Receive Great Tips for Cooking foods

Don’t know how to use a food you find? No problem. Just ask the farmer. Unlike supermarket chains farmers’ markets have the advantage of one on one advice from your farmer.

9.) Promote Community Partnerships

Some farmers’ markets and farm shares partner with  nutrition programs to help bring fresh fruits and veggies to those on state run programs like WIC and SNAP.  Mass.gov has more information about which farmers’ markets accept WIC/SNAP.

 

The Four W’s of Farmer’s Markets

 

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Image is courtesy of Sira Anamwong at freedigitalphotos.net

It’s Farmer’s Market season at the WIC office! And this means that for the next few months we’ll all be really busy talking with clients about the benefits of farmer’s markets. We also give vouchers for fruits and vegetables for those on WIC and collaborate with Lynn’s local farmer’s market to help our community. It’s a win-win situation for every one involved. This year we’re even giving out seeds to encourage young children to grow their own garden.

What a great way to teach our children about food! So, what are the four W’s of a farmer’s market?

What is a Farmer’s Market?

According to the Farmer’s Market Coalition a farmer’s market is a group of local farmer’s or their representatives who gather in public to sell their produce “directly to consumers”.

It’s also a chance to get to meet your local farmers, talk to them about what they’re offering your community, and meet new people. And all this while shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables for your family. Visiting farmer’s markets are also a great summer activity to do with your children.

Where are they located?

Farmer’s markets can be found in cities and towns all over Massachusetts and the United States. In fact the farmer’s market coalition provides three great resources to locate farmer’s markets in the US. The two that I found most helpful are as follows:

1.) The USDA’s Farmer’s Market Directory

2.) EatWellGuide.org

The USDA’s directory works by entering your zip code and adjusting the mileage you’d like to drive. EatWell allows you to enter your state and what you are searching for. Both give you information about every farmer’s market in the area, links to their websites, and other information.

Another helpful tool I recently found was an app for locating farmer’s markets. The Farmstand is an app that uses your location to find farmer’s market in your area. I was able to down load this app for free on iTunes.

What do they sell?

Farmer’s markets go by the season and the area in which you live. As a result what they sell varies from market to market. Most markets will sell fruits and vegetables, but will also sell milk, eggs, cheese, bread, meats/fish.  Some larger ones will even offer non-food items like flowers, herbs, & local crafts.

When  do they set up shop?

Local farmer’s can set up shop based on the season or all year long. I’ve known some farmer’s markets that are around in the winter months, but these are mostly located inside. The majority of farmer’s markets can be found in the spring, summer, and autumn.

The next blog will feature the 9  benefits of farmer’s markets followed by 5 ways farmer’s markets teach kids about food.

Tactics to Talk Food Waste with Kids

How do you start a conversation with our children about food waste and its importance? Well, this was exactly my question and part of the reason why I wanted to write this blog post.

The other reason was simply for the purpose of my blog: to encourage cooking with kids and to teach them about food!

I began my search by brainstorming some ideas with my boyfriend. This is what we came up with:

Take the chance at family meal times to bring up food waste. One simple way to do this is by creating topic cards. Place them in a jar where you can take them out during meals and have one of your children take a card (or slip of paper) and read the prompt. Remember: keep question complexity to the grade level of your child. Check out this link to a previous blog for more ideas on family meals.

If you grow a garden in the backyard and your kids love helping you, take advantage of that moment to teach about ways to stop food waste such as composting. Show your kids that scraps of food that would normally be thrown away can be re-purposed.

Kids in the kitchen offers another opportunity to approach food waste, composting, or even re-purposing of leftovers. Have your kids come up with creative ways to transform leftovers or show them that the stems, leaves, and roots of some veggies/fruit can be eaten as well.

As an example here is one idea to try next time you cook.

Sauteed Radish or Beet Greens

1 pound of radish or beet greens

1 tablespoon of peanut or canola oil

1/2 tablespoon of garlic powder or 1/2 garlic clove

Pepper and salt to taste

Directions

1.) Rinse the greens first. Set aside.

2.) In a skillet combine garlic , pepper, peanut or canola oil, and radish/beet greens.

3.) Set on low to medium heat.

4.) Cook until leaves a slightly wilted, but still have a bright color. Serve.

For more ideas go to: http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/teaching-kids-waste-less-food

17 Ways to Decrease Food Waste this Holiday Season

This holiday season find ways to decrease food waste. Why you ask? Cause it’s healthy for your waist line as well as the environment. (For more information on food waste check out my past posts.)

It’s also the perfect time to begin new habits. So, while others are making New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and exercise more let’s start a new tradition of promising to waste less this coming year.

Get your kids and the whole family involved. To help get your family started here are 17 ways to waste less!

1.) Buy only what you need

2.) Cook what your family can actually eat (Know who’s coming). 

3.) Re-purpose leftovers (Think outside of the box!)

4.) Take a detailed shopping list when shopping (This includes quantity). 

5.) Practice portion control (Don’t overeat)

6.) Freeze what you can’t eat 

7.) Donate what you can to those who are hungry 

8.) Think Composting. 

9.) Know who’s bringing what and how much

10.) Keep food safety in mind when storing leftovers. 

11.) Smaller plates & utensils decreases overeating 

12.) Scope out the pantry so you know what you have

13.) Use what you already have first

14.) Find recipes that utilize ingredients that you use often. 

15.) If you can’t find a suitable recipe, change it to fit your taste. 

16.) Distribute leftovers to guests

17.) Use the fruits/vegetables that no one wants to buy. (a.k.a the bruised and oddly shaped ones)

Here’s to hoping you and yours have a wonderful and safe holiday season this year!

Re-inventing Holiday Leftovers

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Photo courtesy of Carlos Porto at freedigitalphotos.net

A few days ago on Thanksgiving I spent time with my boyfriend’s family for the day. It was a wonderful afternoon with good company and lots of food. Though we were only four there was so much food that between my family’s Thanksgiving and theirs we’ll have leftovers for two or three weeks.

Since my family hates to waste food, this time of  the year has always proved to be creative with transforming thanksgiving leftovers into two or three different meals. We then have to freeze the rest of it.

Today I’ll share with you some of the ways you and your family can waste less this year through re-inventing holiday leftovers! This will also prove to be a great teaching moment for young kids about the importance of wasting less and helping their parents in the kitchen.

1.) Hot Turkey Sandwich: Homemade gravy, turkey, peas, and carrots mixed together and ladled over an open faced sandwich. This quick meal was one of my favorites growing up because it was similar to a chicken pot pie. Which brings me to my next idea.

2.) Chicken Pot Pie: If your feeling creative you can make a chicken or turkey pot pie and throw in leftover veggies. Add in some potatoes and your all set.

3.) Homemade Stock: Not wanting to waste even the bones of a Thanksgiving turkey or chicken I made my own stock this year with carrots and celery. Freeze the rest and you’ll have stock for meals months after the holidays are over.

4.) Turkey Cranberry Wrap: Before I went to collage I never thought of this possibility, but it’s a delicious one. Take a tortilla wrap and place slices of turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and spinach leaves in it. Roll it up with some mayo or mustard and your finished.

5.) Meat Stew: Make stew with leftover veggies, potatoes, and meat either turkey, chicken, or lamb.

6.) Potato Latkes: And here’s another idea. Take those mashed potatoes and turn them into Potato pancakes with homemade applesauce.

These are just six of the ways you and your family can get to transform holiday leftovers. There are many other ways that would work and incorporate cultural foods as well.

Get cooking this holiday season! And if your stumped as to how to get your kids involved visit some of my past blog articles such as Kids Kitchen: Tasks for Every Age

 

Initiatives to Stop Food Waste

In the last post we talked about what food waste is. Today we will talk about some of the government’s initiatives intended to stop food waste.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) partnered with the USDA in 2013 to launch the Food Waste Challenge to cut food waste in half by 2030. As part of this initiative the EPA created a Food Recovery Hierarchy  in order to reduce food waste from the most preferred method to the least preferred method. Below is a picture of that model that came from the EPA website. www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/food-recovery-hierarchy

food-recovery-hierarchy

From the info-graphic above we can see that the most preferred method of food reduction is reducing the amount of waste period. This includes being aware of how much we put on our plates, what we buy in the grocery store etc.

The least preferred method is discarding food waste in a landfill which can increase greenhouse gases in the environment.

As the consumers we can help reduce waste at any part of the food hierarchy.

Re-fed Solutions to Food Waste

In addition to the government initiatives, there are also the initiatives put forth by non-profits. Re-fed is one such non-profit that is sponsored by community, business, and government organizations committed to reducing food waste by 2030.

They have created a model similar to the Food Hierarchy known as the Road map to Reduce US Food Waste. This map can be downloaded from their website if you sign-up for their newsletter. The map is part of an economic based study and can be summarized in three parts.

1.) Prevention– Much like the EPA’s model prevention simply means diverting food from landfills. Making sure it doesn’t happen in the first place. Examples include, educating yourself, your children, and your families, buying only the essentials of what you really need, creating shopping lists, and not taking more than you will eat.

2.) Recovery– Re-distributing edible/extra food to those who need it. An example of recovery is gleaning, which is collecting excess foods from farms, gardens, markets, etc. for those who really need it. The Society of St. Andrew is one such non-profit that gleans food for distribution.

3.) Recycling – Reusing what you can or giving something old a new purpose. Examples included turning leftovers into more meals or composting. Although, composting is low on the Hierarchy it’s still better than a landfill.

To read more about Re-fed and the EPA follow the links or read more at WM Media Room.

Tune in the next few weeks and we’ll talk about 2 ways you can re-invent your holiday leftovers and get you back in the kitchen with your kids this season.