Our weekend excursion, every weekend: harvesting on the organic farm where I work during the week. Might sound like an awfully difficult way to handle grocery shopping, or maybe just thinly veiled workaholism, but the kids usually end up having a blast and we always end up with a hearty dinner.
Some people ask me why I would “torture” my urban, Black children by dragging them up to the farm every weekend. After all, wouldn’t they rather stay home and play video games? After these folks get hit with an extended eye-roll, they get hit with the following list of 18 reasons. And then, I give them some free kale (because I’m generous like that).
My kids hang out on a farm every weekend, simply because…
- I want my kids to know where their food really comes from (hint: it’s not the grocery store).
- I want them to know the taste of an unadulterated peach, and the smell of a chemical-free apple.
- If you teach a toddler that kale is a yummy snack, they believe it is.
- If you get a baby hooked on spinach, they’ll think of it as a “comfort food” for the rest of their lives.
- Climbing plum trees is great exercise.
- Kids are so proud when they can tell everyone that they made that guacamole with their avocados.
- Because kids can pick strawberries without even bending over.
- The lemons are good for their immune systems.
- The garlic is good for their immune systems.
- Even the dirt is good for their immune systems.
- Obesity, diabetes, and heart disease are waiting for them on the couch, not at the farm.
- Every week they see the plants change, and they begin to figure out that growth takes time, all things die, and even dead things contribute to the creation of brand new things.
- Because farm-fresh cilantro and dill are completely different herbs than the stuff labeled “cilantro” and “dill” on the store shelf.
- Because if they see me excited about that fresh tomato, they will be excited about that fresh tomato.
- Because I like saying “yes” when they ask if they can binge on the blueberries.
- Because if we show up at the farm hungry, it just means they’ll “impulse eat” more veggies.
- Chickens that stay on the farm make better pets than dogs that I have to keep in my house.
- A kid who picks his own dinner understands the value of farm labor (and will never refer to the millions of immigrants who work on U.S. farms as lazy).
So that’s why until they are at least 18 years old, my kids will visit the farm. I know that not everyone has this option, but I think that more of us do than we realize. It is worth it to begin getting our kids out of the grocery stores and into relationship with whatever local and organic farms (or farmers’ markets) we have access to. Local Harvest maintains an online directory of sustainable farms and ranches throughout the U.S. and Canada. Many of these farms run yearly harvest festivals or family-friendly events like pick-your-own days, food tastings, and hay rides. Even if it’s just a random family field trip to see “where food comes from,” the experience is sure to have a lasting impact on the little ones.
And plus, hey…there just might be some free kale involved. How can kale ever be wrong?