Summer is all about soaking in the sunshine, dining al fresco and savoring the healthy superfoods the season has to offer.
Just like planting a garden or joining a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm, going to the farmers’ market is a great way to encourage healthy eating and get your kids out of their picky eating habits.
Here are 5 reasons you should consider bringing your kids to a farmers’ market this summer.
1. Cool, new fruits and vegetables
With several types of green leafy vegetables, and foods like heirloom tomatoes, yellow and purple carrots, and donut peaches, the variety of fruits and vegetables at the farmers’ market is enough to spark your kid’s interest in healthy eating.
Let your kids pick out something new and then learn how to prepare and cook it together at home.
Related: 5 Surprising Benefits of Cooking With Your Kids
Most farmers’ markets also sell other products like eggs, cheese, local honey, grass-fed beef, herbs and flowers, breads and baked goods, and personal care products.
2. Get local and organic produce
Grocery stores sell organic produce, but since it’s picked weeks before it hits grocery store shelves, it’s not the freshest.
Unlike grocery stores, produce sold at the farmers’ market aren’t stored for long periods of time, treated with chemicals that extend their shelf life, or shipped long distances.
In fact, more than half of farmers travel less than 6 miles, according to a report by the USDA.
When you shop the famers’ market, you’re getting fruits and vegetables that are ripe, and picked and sold the same day.
As a result, they’re fresher and tastier than store-bought produce and more nutritious, Preston Andrews, PhD, a plant researcher stated in this article.
In addition, although not all famers sell organic produce, 47 percent do sell some type of organic products.
Although prices vary at farmers’ markets, you might get a better deal on organic produce than you would at the grocery store, one report found.
3. Kids get to meet the farmers
When you bring your kids to the farmers’ market, they have a unique opportunity to meet the farmers who grow the food.
Kids can learn about new varieties of produce from the farmer, learn how and where the food is grown, and for speciality vendors, how the products are made.
Meeting the local farmers is also a great opportunity to get personalized recommendations about how to prepare and cook foods and get recipes.
4. Encourages healthy eating
When you bring your child to the farmers’ market and let them pick out new fruits and vegetables, they feel empowered to make their own healthy eating choices.
In fact, a 2018 study found that when kids were given $15 to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at a farmers’ market, their diets improved.
The kids were also more likely to shop at the famers’ market than those who didn’t receive the stipend.
5. Farmers’ markets are fun for kids
Select farmers’ markets across the country have implemented programs to teach kids about healthy eating and make their visits a fun experience.
Take the Power of Produce (POP) Club at the Oregon City Farmers Market.
There, kids get $2 every time they visit the farm to purchase their own fruits and vegetables, and they lean how to plant sunflower seeds, and make salads and jam, for example.
Some farmers’ markets also have cooking demonstrations and classes, entertainment, and other fun activities, for example.