Off to the Market: Visiting a Farmers Market with ChildrenFrom sweet, juicy berries to crisp, tangy kale, fresh and healthy foods are bountiful at farmers’ markets. While adults may focus on their shopping list, there are also many opportunities for children to have fun and learn at the market. These ideas may help your family, class, or summer program make the most of a visit to the farmers market.
· Make It a Game: Play a game of “I Spy” with younger children. Challenges like “I spy with my little eye… a fruit that is round, a vegetable that is orange, or a food that begins with the letter 'B'” build excitement and encourage close attention. For older children, come prepared with a more involved scavenger hunt like the one found here (PDF). Besides produce identification questions, include prompts which encourage conversation with farmers about where and how the food is grown.
· Allow Kids to Shop: Give kids money to make their own purchases. Children are more likely to eat what they choose, and counting out dollars and cents provides a real-life math problem. It may be wise to limit what can be bought, as a wide variety of products may be available at the market.
· Offer a Challenge: Ask children to find an unfamiliar vegetable or fruit they would like to try. If they are not sure what to choose, ask a farmer for a suggestion. Bring it home to prepare or try on the spot for an impromptu taste test. Everyone may discover a new favorite!
· Plan a Post-Market Snack or Meal: Purchase produce with the goal of creating a delicious dish to share. This can be simple, like raw veggies with dip, or something more involved, such as a vegetable soup or a frittata. The more involvement kids have with food, from purchasing to preparing, the more likely they are to eat it.
· Find or Create a Kid-Friendly Event: Many markets offer special children’s days. If these types of activities aren’t available, increase the fun on your own by packing a blanket and enjoying a picnic featuring market finds.
Farmers markets offer a great opportunity for children to learn about and experience fresh, healthy foods in a positive setting. Plan a trip to the farmers market to set the stage for a lifetime of healthy choices!