Who? What? Where? When? Why? And then, How!
These classic five questions can guide an educational visit to the Farmers Market with your family, scout troop, classroom or other group.
The farmers market isn't just a place to pick out tasty grub for next week, it can be a great place for learning and growing knowledge about our food chain. In the name of convenience, many of us have lost our connect to where our food comes from.
So let's go find the roots of our food together during a fun visit to the a local farmer's market.
WHO GROWS OUR FOOD?
Yes, real people do the growing. They're called farmers! They work the dirt. They water and weed.
So treat your group to the experience of saying hello and getting to know your local farmer's. What are the names of local farmers selling at your market? How did they decide to be farmers? What are their joys and challenges?
Your appreciation for your fruits and veggies will grow immeasurably if you know where your produce is coming from. Also, the connection with who grows your food is emotionally nourishing – it just plain feels good for both farmer and consumer.
WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE?
Understanding what local food is gives kids a sense of appreciation for their meals, and shopping at a local farmers market can make this concept a little more concrete.
So what makes sustainably produced local food at the farmer's market different from commercially produced food? What are the benefits of eating organic foods?
In simplest terms, sustainable agriculture is the production of food, including plants and animal products, using farming techniques that protect the environment, public health, human communities, and animal welfare.
WHERE DOES MY FOOD COME FROM?
By asking the farmers where their farms are located, you will come to understand that food is grown local to where we live. So why are bananas sold at farmer's markets in Hawaii but not in New York state?
Learn more about where certain types of produce is grown. For example, where are oranges grown? Southern California and Florida are two examples of climates that support orange trees. Where do you live and what grows in your region?
You can share the importance of eating locally-grown foods as a means to financially support local family farms. Other geographical local benefits include protecting your local environment by purchasing foods that require less gas mileage to get from production to consumption site.
WHEN CAN I EAT APPLES?
Strawberries in January? That's not natural...and your kids can learn that if you teach them about seasonality. As kids visit farmers markets on a regular basis, they will start to learn that fruits and vegetables are available at certain times of year - not all year round like at the supermarket.
Your group can ask the farmers questions about why foods grow better at certain times of year (due to weather and growing conditions) than others.
WHY EAT LOCAL FOOD?
So why is it healthy and helpful to eat locally grown and seasonal fruits and vegetables instead of buying conventionally grown produce from the supermarket?
Have a discussion about what you've learned from the who, what, where and when questions above. Let your children share their knowledge with each other.
HOW TO MAKE A MEAL
How does that food get on the table? Food goes from field to market to home to recipe to table! Celebrate this process and use the ingredients you've selected to make a wholesome meal.
Photo by Amy Nieto, Portland Farmers Market
In case you missed it - we share 6 great activities to turn your grocery trip into a field trip. Read more...
Main image via the New London Farmer's Market