Foraging your food with your kids

March 19th, 2012

This Saturday the girls and I had plans to go to Bolton to do a few errands. We were having company in the evening and I wanted to pick up a few special items for appetizers so we decided to go to one of our favourite local grocery stores, Garden Foods. I know when the kids and I go there we will thoroughly enjoy our grocery shopping experience, we have been shopping at Garden Foods for over 15 years now. This is where we literally “fall in love with our food.”

We take our time to look at the freshness of the produce, to look for Foodland Ontario symbols that are a sign of locally grown, in-season items. It looks like local greenhouse tomatoes have arrived and WOW they are a welcome sign of spring. The girls were already planning to make thyme and garlic roasted tomatoes while choosing them carefully. Anastasia also looked over the organic section and thought the organic broccoli looked good, along with the organic arugula. The girls are connecting with the food they eat by making good decisions at the grocery store.

I really like that Garden Foods carries local lamb, chicken and beef, as well as some organic choices. This week the girls chose Beretta Organic Farms chickens (Beretta Ranch) and the local lamb looked so good that Anastasia decided that on her birthday we are going to barbecue it for her friends. While we were selecting the chickens, Nicoletta watched me also pick up some ground pork and beef. She asked, “Which one is the red meat, mommy?” So I explained to her which meats were red and which were white. She said, “Oh, good we’re not buying too much red meat. It’s not that good for you. You know what they say about red meat.” Read Dr. Maria Shapiro’s blog-CTV for more…

Really, she is only seven and she is aware of what the media is saying about the food we eat every day. Both girls are familiar with organics, locally grown foods and the positive impact that the local and/or organic foods they choose to eat will have in their health. I try to teach the kids that we need to know where food comes from, and that foods grown in smaller quantities, naturally and/or organically, pastured and/or without antibiotics, makes all the difference in the quality of what they eat. At all costs avoid packaged foods and fast foods. We cannot run away from a world that over-produces bad food, yet allows the other half of the world to starve. What we can do as consumers is consume differently. Eat within the season for your produce and vegetables. Source flash-frozen, locally grown fruits and vegetables for the winter months, and look for preserves that are processed locally.

Most meats such as pork, beef and lamb can all be sourced locally. The same goes for poultry.  Just look for labels of origin and other labeling that tells you how the animals are raised. Trout and wild fish are probably the best choices for fish, especially since we are so far away from the ocean. To me, seafood is good within 24 hours; after that, I will pass. We have given up seafood; however will still eat Wild Salmon once in a while.

We should eat red meat in moderation and make better choices when buying it. Choosing a lean cut, organic and locally grown, from a small farmer is a good start. It seems in my lifetime almost every food item has had its moment to be criticized for one thing or another, and I think we are still learning about foods and their effects on our bodies. At one time eggs we no good, seafood is contaminated with toxins, salmon is loaded with mercury and pork well, what’s with pork? Maybe it is too dirty, hard to digest? We need to make healthy food choices based on how it was grown or raised – the closer to your home, the better.

Take the kids grocery shopping often; shop at farmers’ markets this spring. Talk about food with them, and get them involved in buying the food they will eat. Grow a backyard garden; they will love it! These are a few of the easiest ways to teach them how to eat local, in-season and, most of all (enjoy this)  have fun foraging your food!

Stacey Fokas

Eat local*eat fresh*eat healthy