Remember winter? The meteorologist called for a dusting of snow and it triggered a stampede for bread and milk at the supermarket. You subsisted on a peasant’s diet of root vegetables, pot pies and bottomless cups of tea.
Now, your children threaten to pluck their feathers out if they have to eat another can of chicken noodle soup.
It’s time for warm air, fresh strawberries and heirloom squash. It’s time for the farmers market. Here’s how to make the most of the trip with your children.
Let Your Kids Choose
Let your kids pick the recipes and be the family chefs. At the market hand them the reusable bags so they can do the shopping. Their menu choices may surprise you — and you might end up trying a new dish that becomes a family favorite!
Give Kids A Budget
The market is a great place to learn about stretching a dollar and spending within your means, so give your kids the buying power. They’ll learn to stay on budget and comparison shop for the best prices. You can even play a game of Farmers Market Warriors. It’s like the PBS show where pickers compete for flea market glory, except this is a friendly competition among siblings. Set a time limit and see who comes back with the plumpest tomatoes and the snappiest peas at the best price.
Create a Scavenger Hunt
Children who aren’t old enough to shop on their own can help parents and older siblings. Try a scavenger hunt. Print out pictures of the meats and produce you plan to buy. Let them search for the pictured ingredients and check off the list.
Befriend a Farmer
You don’t often chat with the butcher or fishmonger at the grocery. You can check out and bag without a single human interaction. The market, conversely, is a lively community of vendors. When children get to know the farmers who bring food to their table it can can trigger questions about sustainable agriculture and why it’s good to buy local. It might spark their curiosity to visit a farm or inspire a love of gardening and cooking.
If you go to the grocery hungry, you might buy the whole store. Now throw caution to the wind and do take your kids to the market hungry! Shopping at the farmers market engages all of your senses. The scent of fresh cut flowers, sun on your skin, sounds of a bluegrass band, the taste of warm crepes, brick oven pizza and kettle corn. Take time with your kids to share a family lunch outdoors.
A day at the market is nothing like taking a number at the deli counter or trying to sneak 15 items into the 12 items or less line. In short, it’s nothing like fighting crowds at the grocery. So go slow, let your kids lead and a day at the farmer’s market will be a day to remember.
Selena Reder is a mother, writer and part-time video producer living in Cincinnati, Ohio with her son Dorian and husband Tim. Dorian loves chasing Selena and Tim’s tailless cat, making messes for dad to clean up, squealing loud enough for the neighbors to hear and staring at strangers until it’s uncomfortable. Tim loves Dungeons and Dragons, Margaret Atwood and writing meticulous grocery lists.
Selena loves washing cloth diapers, binging on British TV (Top Gear, Only Fools and Horses, Doc Martin, etc) painting and knitting super fancy baby sweaters. She also loves working part-time with her video editor husband (special shout out to her parents and in-laws for being great babysitters!).
If Selena were stranded on a desert island with only one thing to do for the rest of her life, she would nurse her son in their favorite chair. It’s the best thing in the world right now.