Since my son started solid foods, I've been on a mission to improve the eating habits of my family. First up, switch to as many organics as possible focusing on fatty foods (all those chemicals end up residing in the fats of meat and dairy), foods with thin skins (anything with a skin we eat) and especially foods that grow on or in the ground (they get the double whammy of being treated with chemicals and growing in or on soil that is saturated with run off chemicals). Next stop, try to buy foods that are locally grown and buy them in the season they would naturally grow in if left to themselves. (The last is not exactly easy when it's winter and the only available local and in-season greens are kale and swish chard!) By doing this, I'm trying to give my kids an understanding of where their food comes from, (you know, BEFORE it reaches our fridge?) and get them to consider what the benefits are to choosing food that grows close to home.
To help with these eating habits, we put in our first vegetable garden last year. My four year old helped and was so excited when his first cherry tomatoes appeared! We learned a few things: three zucchini plants are 2 too many, cucumbers need a sturdy framework to climb, (Flimsy chicken wire attached clumsily with prong type hardware won't cut it.) strawberries will take over if you let them, slugs like chemical free gardens.
This year, I want to utilize the ideas in the book, "All New Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew. My aunt (who we all refer to as Aunt Neenee) used it last year and loved it! Supposedly, I'll be able to grow a bigger variety of things and my garden will have a lovely, tidy look about it. (Really. The book says so!) When I told my son we would be having another garden this year he was thrilled. I asked him what he'd like to see planted and he answered with his favorites: tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots. I asked what he thought about green beans (another current favorite of both him and his little sister), "Oh yeah!" Feeling the mood of enthusiasm I encouraged him saying, "And when they're ready, you can just hop out to the garden and pick them straight off the vine!" To which he replied, "Yeah! And I won't even have to get the ones from the freezer anymore!"
Hmmmm, maybe we need to work some more on that concept of where food comes from.