Make the Farmers’ Market a Global Adventure
If you are craving a little adventure, sometimes a trip around the world can be as close as visiting your local farmers’ market! In addition to filling the family’s plates with fresh produce, these markets also offer ample opportunities for filling little ones’ minds with new knowledge and introductions to flavors from around the world. I’ve developed a weekly routine of visiting our neighborhood market with my son, Brad, and it’s an activity we both look forward to!
Here are some tips for making the farmers’ market shopping experience with your kids rich with culture and learning moments.
Sample New Flavors
Farmers’ markets are usually a sea of samples, which is great for exposure to novel foods. Brad loves tasting all the different foods and giving me his opinions about what we should buy. It’s a fun chance to talk about foods with origins from elsewhere. We often stop by the Asian farm stands to buy Japanese eggplant, Chinese long beans, and bitter melon. Here at the same farmers’ market he also took his first sip of chai, sampled his first tamale, and experienced fresh hummus made from scratch. Food is an important reflection of the culture it comes from, and what better way to learn about a new culture than through the taste buds!?
Ask the Vendors All Your Questions
Not only are farmers’ markets a great place to be introduced to a wider variety of fruits and vegetables, kids also have the opportunity to meet some of the people responsible for growing them.
Take time to engage in conversation with the vendors and farmers to find out more about how the produce is grown, where in the world it came from originally, and the names of different foods. One veggie that we had never encountered before is this giant squash, pictured left, with Brad.
It’s called a Zucca Lunga (or Piena) di Napoli, a rare Italian variety. He loved trying the monster squash which I prepared very simply by roasting with olive oil, salt & pepper. It is also delicious paired with beans as this recipe.
Use Another Language
Depending on where you are located there may be other languages spoken at your farmers’ market. My son seizes the opportunity to practice speaking Spanish with the farmers, gaining valuable conversation experience in a non-native language. Often we return home armed with new vocabulary in addition to food!
There are ample learning opportunities to be found while traveling through your local farmers’ market. What new foods have you tried at the farmers’ market? Let us know in the comments!