School’s out, the sun is shining, and summer is in full swing. There is no better time to teach kids a reverence for fresh, local food, how it grows, and just how good it tastes.
We would all love to have Grandma’s garden, but our busy lives provide little time for toiling in the backyard. However, there’s no better way to teach kids how things grow than doing it yourself. Start simple- pick one or two things that grow easily in your area. Let the kids come to the garden store with you to help you choose what seeds to buy. Your local nursery may even have a children’s gardening class.
No space? Bad soil? Check out
Down on the Farm
The highlight of our week is going to
My 5-year old, Mariela, asks me once a week if it’s time to go to the Wilson’s raspberry patch. There’s not a kid in the world who wouldn’t love to spend a summer morning popping fresh berries in their mouths as they play hide and seek in the maze of bushes. Wherever you live there is a good possibility there is a farm to visit bursting with local produce. Even better, wilderness harvesting of huckleberries has the added excitement of the possibility of a bear spotting. What is your local specialty? Apples? Peaches? Strawberries?
While driving around scouting parking lots and peeking in windows to find a the best local spot to eat is definitely more challenging than throwing your kid into the McDonald’s Playland, there is no better way to experience America on a road trip than to visit to a local rural café. Great regional meals that are informal and inexpensive can be found anywhere- and watching your kids interact with the locals is pricelesst. If you have a fear of bad food, you might investigate
Another to enjoy the local food is to follow the funky signs and stop a roadside stands for delicacies like jerky, produce, cheese, and baked goods. If you’re going to the big cities, check out
The other day our 5-year old neighbor, Boone, was visiting while Mariela and I made a cake for my husband’s birthday. Boone’s face was covered with lemon chiffon batter when he asked me why you would make a cake for someone’s birthday when you could just go out and buy one? Meanwhile, he stuck around all day to see what it looked like when it came out of the oven, and had a heavy hand in decorating it. He showed up right on time that evening to be invited in to try the goods. He was so proud.
Summer provides the extra time to get kids involved in projects in the kitchen. They are fascinated by cooking and get good at it quick. More importantly, they are more likely to eat something they cook themselves and suddenly healthy foods are a lot more attractive. Cooking also helps them keep up with math, science, and reading. Sure, it takes extra time, but consider it an investment; by the time they are 12 they’ll be cooking whole meals for you. Family time, teamwork, planning and choices all teach them important life skills, and they use their creativity and imagination. Let them bake something to sell at a lemonade stand or invite friends over for a tea party. Going well beyond chocolate chip cookies,
For the ultimate local cooking adventure, consider making your own yogurt, cheese, or ice cream with your kids. Start with a visit to a local dairy to purchase fresh milk- you may have to bring your own container. Because the milk is not pasteurized, you’ll have to boil it before making yogurt or ice cream.
The local food movement has taken off and the diversity and creativity of our farmers, chefs, and consumers holds a glorious future for food. Farmer’s Markets can be found almost anywhere you go and kids love to sample the goods and have a hand in choosing what’s for dinner. Whether you are at home or on the road, keep your eye out for regional and local specialties including micro-brews, cheeses (check out this new guide to American Cheeses), wines, seafood, meats, bakeries, and candies.
FOOD FUN FOR KIDS IN TETON VALLEY:
Summer Adventure Camp
Teton Farm and Garden, Teton Valley Community School, and Cosmic Apple have teamed up for a program that, in addition to hiking, yoga, arts and crafts, includes gardening, raising chickens, and weekly visits to Cosmic Apple Farm. The program is open to 5-10 year-olds and runs Monday-Friday, 8:30-3:30, and costs $35/day. Call Jo at 207.787.2858
Food Fandango- Food Facts, Fiction and Fun
The free program, for readers ages 5 to 12, will meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon, throughout the month of June. Sign up is required and begins Thursday, May 24, while summer reading sessions begin on Tuesday, June 5. To register, stop by the Alta Branch Library or call 307-353-2505.
Food Fandango explores food through books, songs and poems. During the program, kids will sample and talk about all kinds of food, share food facts and explore topics such as world hunger. Reading hours will be tracked by adding food toppings to a giant bulletin board pizza.
Featured selections on this summer’s reading menu include Food Field Trips. Kids will devour European folktales while decorating gingerbread people at an Austrian Bakery; sup on soup while reading “Stone Soup”; and learn about pasta through the story “Strega Nona,” followed by a visit to an Italian restaurant.
Sustainable Table, Eat Well Guide, and Slow Food Meet the Jackson Hole Farmer’s Market
August 18- Jackson Hole Farmer’s Market on the Square
Pie making contest, pie toss, and kids activities. 8-11 am. Details to follow.
Kids Taste the Tetons: Grand Targhee Summer Speaker’s Series
Saturday, September 1, 2007 4:30
Join Sue Muncaster and Slow Food for a tour of some local farms to collect our bounty and a trip up to Targhee to create a local feast and talk about the family table and ecogastronomy. Details are still being worked out- stay tuned.
MD Nursery Gardening Classes
Session 2: July 17-August 14, Sign up for session 2 begins July 2, Times: 10-11 am ages 4 and under 1-2 pm ages 5 –10 years.
If any child is interested in becoming a “Junior Master Gardener” call us for more information.
Teton Valley Farmer’s Market: Fridays 9-2, Downtown Driggs
Jackson Hole Farmer’s Market: Saturdays 8-11, Town Square, begins July 14