From Farm to Plate: Learning about where food comes from
Have you ever asked a child where their food comes from? Chances are they responded with “the supermarket” and though they are not technically wrong, we know this is only one part of a much bigger process. A survey conducted by Medibank and the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation highlights the need to improve the knowledge of Australian children about where their food comes from, as well as how to grow and cook fresh and healthy food. The survey showed that one in four children didn’t know that butter comes from cow’s milk and “not all children knew that apples and bananas are grown on trees”.
Understanding how food makes it on to our plates can help children form positive food habits that they can carry into adulthood. To help you support your child’s understanding, we’ve put together four ways to get your children involved and interested in healthy eating.
Get in the kitchen.
Cooking a meal from scratch is a great way to show children the process of how individual ingredients come together to form a meal. Cooking together invites children to touch, taste and explore their food and ask questions about it.
Many Early Years Services raise chickens and it is possible that this can be done at home too. This has proven to be a good way to encourage responsibility in children, as they can get involved in keeping the chickens safe and feeding them. Other benefits include developing respect for other living creatures, learning about life-cycles and learning how to cook sustainably.
Start with a seed
A child is more likely to eat vegetables if they have grown it themselves. If a veggie patch is not feasible at your home, even having seeds on a windowsill offers a significant learning opportunity. Wrap seeds in a damp paper towel and place it in a glass or plastic cup on a windowsill. Within a few days, the seed will begin sprouting, and your child can watch its progress each day.
Visit community gardens and markets
Community gardens are everywhere, even in metropolitan areas, and are well worth a visit. Farmers markets give you and your children a chance to chat with local farmers, and try some fruits and vegetables you might not otherwise come across.
Many of bestchance’s kinders have veggie patches on site. Templestowe Preschool, Norwood Preschool and Bass Valley are just some of our kinders who have seen great success in their gardening and cooking programs. The children engage in the entire process of planting, nurturing, harvesting and cooking with their produce.
Lower Plenty Kindergarten is one of our services that is currently taking part in the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program, which aims to introduce pleasurable food education to children in order to form positive food habits for life. As part of this program, the children at Lower Plenty have been raising chickens on site. They recently enjoyed a Pajama and Pancake day, where they collected the eggs in the chicken’s nesting boxes and then made pancakes using these eggs. After cooking, the children enjoyed their delicious treat with maple syrup, berries or lemon and sugar!
So get your children involved in their food! Whether it is by planting seeds, planning meals, or going grocery shopping, these experiences help develop positive food habits and environmental awareness for life.