This week we’re visited by Jackie, also known as The Paleo Mama. Jackie is teaching both her two children and all who will listen, what it means to live a sustainable, healthy life. We love her for her incredible recipe roundups, brilliant DIY beauty and household creations, and sincere insight on how to ‘get back to basics’ with a rooted lifestyle.
Today Jackie shares some suggestions on how to educate your children on where food comes from, and more importantly how to involve them with the farm to fork process.
As I watch my children run through a nearby apple orchard, picking apples, smelling, sampling and studying them as they go, it makes me somber to think that many children are not given this opportunity. It’s the opportunity to touch and feel and see their food before it is placed in front of them on the dinner table.
Many children have no idea that a chicken lays an egg and that is what we eat in our scrambled eggs and crack into recipes. They don’t know that milk is hand (or machine)-squeezed at the udder of a cow or goat and then taken to the store to be sold to the customer. They don’t know the difference between a carrot and a green pepper – that one of them grows below the ground and one grows above.
Unfortunately, our children are growing up in a society that doesn’t care about the origin of food, doesn’t care much about GMO’s (genetically modified organisms), doesn’t care about where or how we get our food, as long as we get it…as long as it’s at the grocery store when we need it.
However, ingrained deep into all of us, and especially our children, is a love for nourishment, a love for nature, and a love for animals. That is what you need to cultivate. If you, as a parent, can find that love, nurture it, and then sit back and watch it bloom, you will be amazed at how much your children thrive.
But How do I Get My Kids to Eat Their Food?
1. Give them a seed. Allow them to grow it. Watch the excitement as it comes to harvest. And if you have time to cook it (before they devour it), smile at the rewards of their little effort and praise them for their hard work.
2. Take them to a local farmer. Let then pick out their eggs. Let them get chicken poop on them. Stop stressing. Let them try to catch a chicken. Stop worrying about disease. Cultivate this love in them. All children have it. We are naturally connected to the earth and the creatures in it. So, let your kids get dirty in this fascinating world. And if you can, buy a few backyard chickens. They are easier than dogs and they give you something in return…fresh, plump eggs! We have 15 chicks that we are raising. The kids are able to see that to just crack an egg to use in a recipe requires much more effort than buying a dozen at the grocery store. It takes time to raise the chicks, nurture them in a perfect environment, and then wait for the day when one of them lays an egg. And what a glorious day that will be! If you can’t have chickens, check out your local Craigslist page for local hobby farmers with a surplus of eggs. Or look at Local Harvest for someone near you.
Go to a local farm and ask if you can help with milking the cows. The kids will love it! My youngest recently was able to milk a cow and pointed the stream of milk towards his mouth! Yes, he was trying to aim the milk into his mouth. My children have only known good, real, raw milk. They won’t drink anything else…except my homemade coconut milk. In fact, we just picked up our two dairy goats so we can have an endless supply of fresh milk to use for so many things! The kids are already fighting over who will be the first to milk her. Having a goat might not be possible for you, but finding a local farmer you can take the kids and pick up some fresh milk is possible. Real Milk is a great resource for this!
3. Pick your own produce. You pick is a great resource to find local you pick farms. We have used it to pick blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, oranges, and apples. In fact, when we moved to North Carolina a few weeks ago I was curious how many apple orchards were near me. To my surprise there is over 10 apple orchards in a 5 mile radius. Not only is picking your own produce beneficial to you by getting your own local food, but it allows the children to see that the fruit/vegetable comes from a bush or tree. They don’t come all bunched up ready to eat and scoop by the handfuls. Each berry requires precision and care. Check out Pick Your Own for a you-pick farm near you.
There is nothing sweeter than seeing your toddlers chubby hands picking fresh grown fruit and shoveling them into their mouth. These are valuable lessons that you are teaching them. Health is the greatest gift you can give your children. It’s something they carry with them forever. It affects every aspect of their lives.
4. Allow Your Children to Cook With You. This one is huge. And, yes, I know it’s hard sometimes. You want to hurry up and whip out a quick meal, dessert…or you want it to be perfect. Neither of which is possible with little hands helping. However, this is something that we really need to do. Our kids need to be involved in the whole process of “farm to fork.” Trust me, you let them help you in the kitchen a little bit, you will be surprised what they will eat. Who doesn’t want to taste a recipe they have worked hard to make? Kids do too!
Giving your children the gift of real food is a gift that you cannot put a price on. Yes, it’s hard at times and it has it’s frustrations. You may not have enough time to pick all your own food or grow a garden. I am a firm believer in baby steps. Take one step at a time. Go to one local farm at a time. And don’t forget to thank the hand that feeds you. Farmers work hard to put out good, fresh food!
Great books to read to children about real food to help cultivate a love for good food:
- Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
- The Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall
- Beatrix Potter Series
- Two Little Gardeners – Margaret Wise Brown
- The Secret Garden – by Frances Hodgson Burnett
- Little House on the Prairie – by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- Walter the Baker – by Eric Carle
- Pancakes, Pancakes by Eric Carle
- To Market, To Market by Nikki McClure
- Snipp, Snapp, Snurr and the Buttered Bread by Maj Lindman
Jackie, “The Paleo Mama“, is a homesteading, homeschooling, holistic mama of 2 with a passion for sharing her love of eating real, whole, Paleo food with others. She enjoys gardening, creating recipes, raising goats and chickens, and does her best to live sustainable in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina.