By Sandra Ann Harris

“Hi, Mr. Carrot! Hello Mrs. Farmer. Let’s make friends.”

kids farmers market

I was saddened recently while watching an episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution that showed kids who were utterly unable to call our planet’s precious vegetables by name. What’s a turnip? Cauliflower? Beet? What is broccoli versus Broccolini? Granted, to kids farmers markets might not seem like the coolest places to hang out. But, if our children don’t know vegetables well enough to identify them by name, how likely will they be to eat them? kids farmers market, farmers market activities for kids, at the farmers market with kids, farmers market ideas for kids

At ECOlunchbox (makers of stainless-steel bentos, lunch boxes and artisan lunch bags that are plastic-free, waste-free, BPA-free, PVC-free, petroleum-free, and vinyl-free), we’ve come up with a list of five fun ideas to help families enjoy an outing to their local farmers market while learning the names of seasonal veggies, fruits, and even our local farmers. (Yes, farmers have names, too!) kids farmers market, farmers market activities for kids, at the farmers market with kids, farmers market ideas for kids

We believe kids will eat a more varied diet and have more fun at lunchtime (and snack time, dinnertime and breakfast…), if they get up close and personal with their food chain.

Rainbow Colors

Color it nutritious! At ECOlunchbox, we’ve found that kids love to be sent on color-finding missions at the farmers market. Assign one child orange and green, and another child yellow and red. kids farmers market, farmers market activities for kids, at the farmers market with kids, farmers market ideas for kids

Kids remember colors. Encourage your children to appreciate the nutrient value of foods by teaching them that colors mean healthy foods, or, in kid-language, “grow foods.” The brightest colors are found in produce that is in-season, fresh, and eaten raw, or lightly steamed.

With your farmers market bounty, create a “rainbow lunch” — festively arrange a tray full of colorful foods cut into bite-sized servings. This can also be an excellent way of introducing new foods and getting variety into the family diet.

farmers market activities for kids

Dollars & Cents

Parents can involve their younger children in shopping by asking, “Can you put three zucchinis in the bag?” or encourage their children to put fruits on a scale and follow up with, “Can you help me figure out how much these plums weigh?” kids farmers market, farmers market activities for kids, at the farmers market with kids, farmers market ideas for kids

For older children, the dollars and cents of independently handling the bills and coins at your friendly local farmers market is a great way to build practical math skills.

Kids, Farmers Markets & Healthy Choices

Parents can give their children a budget, say $5, and ask the children to buy fruits and vegetables of their choice for their lunchboxes. At ECOlunchbox, we’ve found that kids eat much better at lunchtime if they have a say in what’s packed in their lunchboxes. kids farmers market, farmers market activities for kids, at the farmers market with kids, farmers market ideas for kids

Kids love having the power to make choices about what they eat. What better place than the farmers market to give them that chance?

The Seasons of Foods

at the farmers market with kidsStrawberries in January? Kids will wonder why favorites like strawberries aren’t available year-round at the farmers market. kids farmers market, farmers market activities for kids, at the farmers market with kids, farmers market ideas for kids

Their questions will provide a great chance to talk with the farmers at your market about how food is grown and why it’s important to eat locally grown food that’s grown in-season, rather than import food from thousands of miles away.

Non-Toxic Containers

A fun farmers-market question for parents to ask is “What kind of packaging does an apple come in?” “What about an orange? A melon? A zucchini?” Fruits and vegetables come with built-in, biodegradable packaging: their skins! kids farmers market, farmers market activities for kids, at the farmers market with kids, farmers market ideas for kidsfarmers market ideas for kids

A good follow-up question is to ask a child to think about the packaging used in prepackaged lunchbox foods, such as chip bags, cheese sticks, individually sized yogurts and juice boxes. “What is the packaging made from?” (Answer: plastic.) “Is the packaging biodegradable?” (Answer: no.) kids farmers market, farmers market activities for kids, at the farmers market with kids, farmers market ideas for kids

At ECOlunchbox, we believe it makes good sense to pick healthy foods for lunchtime — and use healthy packaging to pack these goodies to school or work. Plastic packaging often contains BPA (bisphenol-A) and other unhealthy chemicals. Scientists have linked toxins in plastics to health problems like cancer, diabetes, and early puberty. kids farmers market, farmers market activities for kids, at the farmers market with kids, farmers market ideas for kids

We recently completed a litter-less lunch-waste study showing that families packing lunch with conventional throwaways generate 4,320 pieces of trash annually and spend more than $400 on disposables like plastic baggies, utensils, prepackaged snacks, juice boxes, and more. kids farmers market, farmers market activities for kids, at the farmers market with kids, farmers market ideas for kids

Interested in learning more about greening your lifestyle and having eco fun with your family? Please join us on Google Plus or sign up for our e-newsletter. Inspired to go to a farmers market near you and need help finding one? Click here to search by ZIP code.

farmers market kidsSandra Ann Harrisis an eco mom and entrepreneur living in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two children. She is the founder of ECOlunchbox, whose mission is to help families reduce their dependence on plastics for health and environmental reasons. Submit your story or essay to Buzzworthy Blogs.

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