Friday, June 18
This weekend, take your kids (or just yourself!) to a farmers market. (Go here to find one.) I can tell you it has really become a sticking point on our calendar. If your kids are picky eaters, please let them surprise you. Just as children love petting zoos, they will be charmed by the array of offerings and knowledge that is available. Wander, talk to people, taste samples if they're offered.
You might be surprised at what your kids ask you to buy. A powerful sensory relationship is forged when a child hand-packs a vegetable and then helps prepare it for eating. A green bean means something completely different to a kid who has dug his/her fingers into a basket and selected handfuls and then snapped them for cooking. When my youngest asked me to buy Shiitake mushrooms a few weeks ago, I thought silently that she'd never eat them unless they were smothered in a sauce of some sort. Shut my mouth because she loves them sauteed with garlic and olive oil! She looks forward to making that purchase herself every Saturday.
Creating a powerful connection with food and the people who labor to bring it to you, though, is only part of the benefit. When you trade your cash for food, know that you are literally voting for a better way of life for our culture. You are sending a message that paying taxes for subsidies on mass-produced, chemically-treated and genetically-modified crops is bad enough. But then paying taxes for the health care of those who get fat and sick on the products those very crops are turned into is preposterous. It's no way of life for anyone but the bigwigs who think patenting seeds makes sense.
Food is an undeniable component of a population's culture, no matter where it is geographically. What is America's, really? McDonald's? General Mills? Whatever is on sale? Seriously??? Look at the cuisines we borrow from around the world and realize they were born of what was in abundance in that region, not a year-around selection of low-quality versions of every fruit and vegetable known to man.
And, as for what's on sale, check out your local farmers market. Begin to build a food culture for your family. Your body, your budget, and, quite possibly, your kids will thank you. I know the farmer will!
(Don't forget to take your own bag/basket and a cooler if you plan to purchase dairy or meat.)