I have two children and it is hard for them to try different foods, especially if it is “weird” looking to them or if the texture is different. My sister in law has three children and they love to eat their vegetables and don’t give their parents a hard time about eating what is given to them on their plate. I questioned the way I was handling my kid’s food choices and why my sister in laws children were eating so healthy and why my children were not eating vegetables like their cousins.
I finally had enough courage and asked my sister in law what she did to help her kids eat the right foods (as a mom you never want to admit that you are doing something wrong or at least in my case). She told me her secret is that she has a garden and the kids help her in the garden. It was genius and so simple. As a society, we have lost that part of being able to grow our own food and get that feeling of accomplishment when it comes to eating what we planted and grew. That feeling of accomplishment of its organic and we know how its been grown. It's so easy to go to the store and pick up what we are looking for dinner, but we don’t really know the background of the food that we are getting from the stores.
There are so many questions nowadays about is it organic, is it GMO, pesticides, who put their hands on the food, did they wash their hands, are they wearing gloves, what chemicals did they use on the vegetables or fruits. Growing your own garden and seeing the result is so satisfying. Even walking into the garden is so peaceful for the soul, being surrounded by its beauty and nature. It's not as easy as going to the store and picking out what you want. When my sister in law told me the kids helped her plant the seeds, watered it, pulled weeds, fought off the insects as best as they could, watched the flowering of the plants, and finally receiving the fruit from the plants, the kids wanted nothing more, but to eat and taste the vegetable or fruit. It takes a lot of work to grow food and the whole process of watching the seeds become fruits is truly amazing. It is even sad when the insects get a hold of the plant and destroy it. Watching the plant die can be so distraught. This teaches kids about emotions as well. There is so much good when parents can teach their children about gardening. So I took my sister in laws advice and I started a little garden. I first had broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes, and cauliflower.
My kids would help me every day in the garden from pulling out weeds, watering, and checking for bugs that were eating the vegetables. We made our own insect repellent and talked about good for that fuels their bodies and not just fillers that are made from chemicals and sugar. Don’t get me wrong they still love sugar (as their mother does too), but they now know that eating vegetables and fruits are an essential part of their diet and it plays a big part as to how they are feeling. According to a recent study, of getting your kids to eat fruit and vegetables and love it, they recommend eating together, keep trying, slice fruit and vegetables, let them pick fruit and vegetables, and garden together. Kids will not starve themselves and that is something that my Mother in law taught me. It kind of clicked in my mind when she said that. Its so true, they won’t starve themselves and if you offer children good choices they will learn to get in the habit of choosing the better choice. It might take a while and as a parent you will have to keep trying, but when you see them eat vegetables and fruits with ease, you will know you have made the correct choice.
In conclusion, as a society we have lost our human basics such as being one with the Earth. By incorporating a gardening task into your child’s lives can do so much for them in so many ways. This is teaching children to love where their food comes from and to love what they are eating.
Author: Melody Gurrere, COTA/L