By Brenna O’Dea
May has finally arrived! The month made of fresh air and fresh flowers. This May, we will be devoting a bit more time to mindfulness, starting with Mindful Mondays. Today, we want to chat about one fun way you create meaningful and mindful food memories and practices for the whole family. It is FINALLY time to spend your Saturday mornings out in the sun instead of snuggled up by the fire. Taking a trip to your local farmer’s market is just one great way that you can encourage your little ones to explore healthy eating habits and try new foods (preferably green ones!)
Mindfulness in the kitchen starts before you think, it starts all the way back where your food comes from. It starts at the farmer’s market! Okay, it really starts at the farm…with the seeds…with the soil…the sun, the water, the wind, all that good natural stuff that we often forget about. Take a bite out of an apple, hey, it’s just an apple, right? It tastes pretty good and sweet, but why? Stop and think for a minute. Make each bite meaningful. Maybe it tastes a bit sweeter because you bought it from a local farmer only a few miles away and you can trust that they don’t use any harmful pesticides or waxy coatings on that beautiful skin. Maybe it tastes extra juicy because you took the extra time to chat with the farmer about the harvest this year. But hey, it really doesn’t have to take any extra time at all.
Skip your weekend grocery store run, and spend an hour strolling through the street, grabbing all the fresh greens that catch your eye. Checking items off that shopping list should not feel like a chore! Stop stressing and relax! Encourage your kids, big or small, to explore the market and pick out one special fruit or veggie that looks good to them. If there are samples to try, offer it, don’t force it. Explain to them how COOL it is that they get to eat this food that is fresher than anything they can find along an air conditioned aisle. When you teach kids about where their food actually comes from, that is comes from the earth, not a factory, they might just grow a bit more curious (and hungry) for more. Make it a routine, a family tradition. The weekend farmer’s market run, the usual. Create fun food and farm centered memories from a young age, and make it a part of normal conversation. And if you’re ready to get your hands just a bit dirtier, start a family garden right in your own backyard (or even on the windowsill for all the high rise dwellers)!
Whether you only make it to the market once this summer, or you go twice a week, just go. There are PLENTY of places to choose from and chances are there is a farmer out there waiting to talk to YOU. Mindful eating does not have to mean that you take 8 hours to prepare it and 4 hours to eat it. You do not need to meditate and get into deep conversation about the meanings of life and consumption. All ya gotta do is enjoy the sunshine and have a ten minute chat with your ten year old about why strawberries taste much more delicious in the summertime when they are in season. Ask them questions about their favorite fruits and veggies, and tell them about yours. Ask the farmers questions too. Curiosity really is contagious, and if your little one sees your excitement when peaches finally start popping up at your local market, they might just wanna join in on the fun (and ask for a free sample, of course).
(Image by flickr member Stephanie Bower licensed under Creative Commons)