For the most part, kids don’t care where food comes from, so long as they can eat what they like. That’s natural. However, you can teach them from pretty young to appreciate where food comes from.
There’s not much you can do for babies, of course. You can appreciate things yourself, though, and make homemade baby food when possible. Teach your baby from a very young age how wonderful homemade food is.
Believe me, they do notice the difference. My nearly 1 year old isn’t nearly so enthusiastic about eating when it comes from a jar, as it does when we visit relatives. She can tell the difference.
Toddlers and Preschoolers
Toddlers and preschoolers can begin to appreciate where food comes from. One of the best ways to do this is to start a garden with them. Go select seeds together, and plant them together. Get your toddler or preschooler involved in caring for the garden – watering, learning what makes a weed, and of course harvesting.
Another way to teach appreciation for where food comes from is to visit a local farm. Try to find one that offers tours. This may be easiest to do as a part of a preschool group, so suggest it to the teacher if your local farm prefers group tours.
Kids this age love to be told that they are eating “grow foods” when they’re eating healthy foods. Little kids do love to grow!
Elementary School Age Kids
Keep working with kids as they get older in ways similar to how you started with your toddler or preschooler, but increase their participation. Teach your child how to cook age appropriate recipes. It’s really not that hard to teach a child to do something like make scrambled eggs safely. Talk about safety rules and only cooking with adult supervision, of course.
You can also get more into the difference between organic, local and conventionally produced foods. If you haven’t already, join a CSA or co-op and get some organic or local food at a pretty good price.
Middle School and Up
Time to get serious!
You might want to check out The Omnivore’s Dilemma for Kids as a great starting point for really getting into what goes into bringing food to the plate. It really gets into what goes into all kinds of food, and the environmental damage that occurs.
And of course keep up the healthy eating habits and keep the kids involved in food preparation at home. It’s not only a great way for them to really appreciate what they eat, it’s great family time.