Picking some fun at local farms
My first article for The Examiner as the local green parenting expert.
As summer comes into her full glory, local produce is in abundance. One of the best ways to encourage healthy eating is to engage children in the hunting and gathering process. Luckily, this region has a myriad of pick your own fruit and vegetable farms. It is a wonderful opportunity for children to learn that raspberries do not come in cardboard boxes of individually cellophane wrapped gelatinous sheets of blue colored leather, but rather are brilliant crimson fruit on a vibrant green plant.
There are many advantages to self picking produce. Clearly from an environmental standpoint, there is no packaging or fuel to ship the produce halfway around the world. Many of the local farms practice organic gardening, so there is no concern about pesticide residue. From a taste standpoint, nothing will ever be remembered by a child so much as the first bite of something they pick themselves, from plant to mouth in less than a minute is unforgettable.
Many of the local farms cater to families and have hay rides to the fields, activities and classes for all ages. The events go all summer well into the fall harvest season. Pick your own farms aren't just for pumpkins, but also sweet corn, green beans, peas, tomatoes. Any fruit or vegetable that grows locally can be hand picked. It's a valuable experience for young people to see where food really comes from, not simply a package on the supermarket shelf.
It nurtures a respect for the entire food chain and circle of life. Instilling appreciation at an early age will create ownership for the planet that is their home.