Family Dining at the Farmers Market

July 2nd, 2014 by Live Well Omaha Kids

Written by Hollyanne Fricke, project manager at the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition

It’s officially summer, which means farmer’s markets are in full swing and are starting to fill up with all of our favorite summer fruits and vegetables – tomatoes, zucchini, watermelon, peaches, and more! Farmer’s markets provide consumers access to fresh, local produce, and shopping at a farmer’s market is a great activity for families to enjoy together. Farmer’s markets also present a unique, interactive way to teach kids about nutrition and eating healthy. By making regular trips to the farmer’s market, kids will learn that healthy eating and local foods are important in your family and will feel encouraged to make healthy choices.

Although kids can sometimes be picky eaters, kids are much more likely to eat fresh fruits and veggies if they are invested. Kids can be a part of every step of the process – planning meals, choosing foods, talking with vendors, prepping and cooking at home, and of course, eating!

  • Planning meals: Let kids help plan meals for the week before making your trip to the farmer’s market. Spend time as a family perusing your favorite cookbooks, magazines, and even the Live Well Omaha Kids Pinterest page for seasonal, simple recipes. The Let’s Move Grocery List Template is free to download and is an easy-to-use, colorful template that parents can print and have kids help fill in.
  • Choosing foods at the market: Once you’ve come up with a few meal and snack ideas, let kids help pick out foods at the farmer’s market. For example, if turkey burgers are on your menu, let kids decide what type of lettuce looks yummy and what color tomato they would prefer. If you kids are old enough, you might even consider giving them a few dollars to spend all by themselves!
  • Talking with vendors: Allow kids to engage at the market with farmers and producers. This gives kids the opportunity to become more invested in what they are eating, make the connection about where their food comes from, and educates them on the importance of local foods.
  • Prepping and cooking at home: Follow through and don’t let the healthy habits stop at the farmer’s market – make sure to include kids in prepping and cooking foods at home and in school as much as possible.
  • Eating: Hopefully after helping to plan the meals, choose the ingredients, talk to farmers, and prepare and cook the foods, kids will be excited to eat the dishes that they helped create from start to finish. Regardless, it’s important for parents and older siblings to set the precedent at the table by trying new foods, modeling correct portion sizes, and choosing water or milk instead of soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages.

Other Ideas

  • Don’t limit your farmer’s market trip to just fruits and vegetables. Many farmer’s markets have vendors selling naturally-raised, artisan breads and cheeses, and more! Try challenging your kids to come up with a healthy meal where all the ingredients can be bought at the market – think pizzas, salads, or sandwiches!
  • Even if you don’t have space or time for a full vegetable garden, let your kids pick out an herb plant or two from one of the farmer’s market vendors to care for and use in home-cooked meals (try basil on pizzas, parsley on pastas, or cilantro on tacos). Learning how their food grows and being able to watch the process will help keep kids invested in and excited about making healthy choices.

Below is a list of a few of the many farmer’s markets in the Omaha area; check them out to find the one nearest you. Happy shopping!

Omaha Farmer’s Market

Village Pointe Farmer’s Market

Benson Farmer’s Market

Gifford Park Neighborhood Market

Bellevue Farmer’s Market

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