Research is lacking about how many U.S. children don't have good knowledge about food origins. However, surveys of youngsters in Australia and the United Kingdom show significant percentages think pasta comes from animals, cheese comes from plants, and potatoes grow on trees. This can be a particular problem in urban areas where children may not become very familiar with farms and gardens.
Bringing your children to the grocery store like Tri-Town Foods offers fun opportunities to teach them more about where food comes from.
Store Departments for Learning Activities
Depending on how old your kids are, they probably can identify many of the foods in this department. You might talk about the different ways that various fruits and vegetables grow. For instance, potatoes and beets grow underground, while beans and peas grow on vines. Apples and pears are found on trees, but raspberries and blueberries appear on bushes.
Geography can factor into these conversations as well. Talk about how bananas only grow in warm climates, for example.
Canned & Frozen Foods
Once you leave the fresh produce section, swing through the aisles with canned and frozen foods. There, point out the preserved versions of the fresh foods you've just looked at. Explain reasons why people buy preserved foods, such as the convenience factor and better availability.
Meat, Eggs & Dairy
This department can be one of the more confusing ones for children. It's easy to relate fresh blueberries to frozen ones, just like the connection between fresh peas and canned ones is fairly obvious. Meat in a grocery store, however, doesn't generally look anything like the animal. Even if a child knows milk comes from a cow, the relationship between the cow and butter or yogurt is not so easily understood.
Foods Made From Grain
The origins of grain-based foods also can be a little puzzling for kids. It's not intuitive to make the connection between wheat plants and pasta or bread. If your child likes cereal, a trip down the cereal aisle can help support the concept of grain-based foods since so many of these products include the grain in the name. Consider corn flakes, oat clusters and crisped rice as examples.
Consider additional ways to help your youngster learn about where food comes from. You might:
- take a drive through farmland and talk about plants and animals
- buy some fresh fruit and make jam
- grow a few tomato plants on your patio or balcony
- go to a farmer's market in the city
Learning Where Food Comes From
Children enjoy learning new things. You may find yourself learning new information as well when your kids ask questions that you don't have the answers to yet. Have fun with the process and even take the opportunity to try foods your family is unfamiliar with.