One of our favorite (and relatively inexpensive) things to do as a family is visit our local Farmer’s Market. We bring our wagon so we can cart around not only our son, but the bounty of fresh fruits and veggies we often find. There’s usually live music we can listen (and dance) to and as it gets warmer our local market has a splash pad for the kids to cool off in. It’s a great way to see the neighbors, enjoy our community and purchase our produce for the week.
We’re so lucky to have a different market in nearly every community around the Portland Metro Area. Even better, if you’re willing to travel you can usually find one open on most days of the week!
Visiting a farmer’s market is also great way to encourage healthy eating with your kids. And I don’t know about you, but I need all of the help I can get! At the market you’re surrounded by fruits and veggies all sold by local (often organic) growers. Seeing the food at eye level and talking to the farmers who grow it helps children make the connection between the food they eat and where it comes from, which studies show helps encourage healthier eating habits. Many of the markets have special booths set up just for kids with free activities for them to do and try. In case you visit one that doesn’t have a kids booth, here are a few activities you can do with your kids of all ages:
Ask a Farmer
Work with your kids to put together a list of questions to ask the farmers and growers while you’re at the market. It’ll be fun for the kids to talk to the bee keeper at the honey stand or the fisher at the fresh fish stand. And it just might give them enough information for an extra credit project or a special show and tell event at school.
Find the Rainbow Scavenger Hunt
While you’re walking through the market, do a scavenger hunt with your kids to find an item for every color of the rainbow. This is a great way to remind your kids how important (and healthy) it is for them to eat lots of different types of fruits and veggies.
Let Them Pick Dinner!
Let your little one pick a couple (3-5) items that you will can use to cook a family dinner together. Let them be creative! What if they pick kohl rabi, you say? I guess everyone will have a chance to learn something new.
Veggie Taste Challenge
Nearly every booth at the market passes out samples, giving your kids (and you!) the opportunity to taste something new! Challenge your kids to try at least one new fruit or vegetable on each visit. Keep track of how many new vegetables and fruits you try throughout the different seasons!
Share a Few Bucks
I give my almost 4 year old a five dollar bill each time we head to the market. This achieves a couple of things–he learns a little something about money and the value of a dollar and also has a chance to actively participate in the experience, picking out and paying for his favorite things all on his own.