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Fresh Food and Culture at Farmer’s Markets

Kimberlee Leonard

Posted on November 25, 2018 16:42

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Exposing kids to the variety of fresh food, unique items and culture at a farmer's market expands their food and worldviews.

Growing up in Hawaii, I was spoiled for the fresh fruit, vegetables and seafood that was always abundant. Whether our own or a close neighbor sharing, there was always great tastes to enjoy: mango, avocado, papaya, guava, octopus, ahi … the list just goes on and on.

Food just didn’t seem as good when I moved to the mainland. Living in the San Fernando Valley, the farmer’s market was a weekend community gathering filled with pony rides, bounce houses and fresh produce. Beyond the produce were the unique creations you rarely find anywhere else. Unique pickle combos, homemade hummus or salsa.

When my son was younger, these unique items were the treats that got him to the farmer’s market. He would get excited to come home and try the new weekly treat. I would say this little habit created a cultivated foodie out of my son.

Now that we live back in the islands, our Sunday mornings start with a trip to the farmer’s market. There are a few staples we get but it is the intriguing ideas that he has with food that make me go back week after week. He scours the tables looking for new and interesting things that he hasn’t tried.

He knows that I won’t buy things unless we have a plan to use it – a recipe or understanding of how to eat it. So, he creates one. A plan for unique salads or noodle dishes with a variety of the choys: bak choy and pak choy made the basket this week. He doesn’t cook often, but has a keen sense of what flavors belong together. He’s learned to pick the fruit and vegetables and has really become the one in charge of the shopping basket.

I guess this is where our children start to teach us. Many of the things we come home with I’ve never had or didn’t care for growing up. Unlike the mom who needs to nag, “eat your vegetables,” my son has helped me build a greater love for variety and flavors. I recall something one of my psychology professors once said, “if you allow a child to choose, they will choose the well-balanced diet over time.”

This, of course, is a choice before taste buds are squelched by the preservatives of our lives. It is still valid. By exposing our children to things they don’t always see or taste at home, we allow them to find healthy ways to interact with food and culture.

He’ll travel the world one day, I’m certain. When he does, food will be one of the ways he experiences the culture. Not just by what is bought at the main restaurants, but the little places locals go to enjoy homestyle dishes. For now, I’ll let him shop and we’ll come up with recipes together to enjoy his weekly finds at the farmer’s market.

Kimberlee Leonard

Posted on November 25, 2018 16:42

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Source: CS Monitor

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