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Raising Locally-Minded Kids

julia May 22, 2013
Photo Credit: kali.ma via Compfight cc

By Sara Baker, Contributing Writer

Local Trends

There has been a big (and well-deserved) push lately to buy, eat and give locally. Having a heart for local food, issues, and business is tremendously important. We can do so much for our local communities, and benefit from them ourselves! But where do our children fit in to all of this?

They should be right there beside us!

How else will they learn what questions to ask their farmer, how to preserve the harvest, that picking up local spring water and raw milk is a normal lifestyle? They won’t learn it from anyone but us.

Learning From Parents

In the home I grew up in, driving 30 minutes to get spring water once every week or so was completely normal. In fact, I didn’t realize that a lot of what my parents did was “against the grain” until I married my husband (who was raised in the standard American home). When he questioned why in the world we would go to so much trouble (even though it really wasn’t) to get water when we could just turn on the tap to fill a glass, and other questions of that nature, I began to realize how different we were.

I say this because living locally and naturally as possible wasn’t strange to me as a kid. We went with my parents when they got spring water. We helped dry off the 5 gallon jugs and screw lids on. We took drinks of the fresh spring water straight from the source. I saw how excited my Dad was to find local eggs or honey. My parents took us with them to pick up food co-op boxes and bags…we would even help unload the truck! It was a family affair, and to us, it was normal…most times even fun!

This is what we should aim for in our children. Eating and buying locally should be normal for them not because they were taught, but because they were included.

How to Include Your Children

Include your children, even in activities that seem insignificant to you. Small children can tag along for food or dairy pick-ups or go to the farmer’s market, help wash produce, and clean jars for jam. Also, talk with your young children! Do not withhold because you think they will not understand! While working, explain where the food came from and why you are thankful for hardworking hands to grow it for you. Children understand so much more than we give them credit for, and the least they will take out of the conversation is your gratitude for good food.

Older children can do all of these, too, and more. They can make phone calls for you, place orders, and help you manage the kitchen. An older child can even go so far as to help out a farmer for a day, or a short time (if your farmer is so inclined). You may benefit from a little produce or dairy…but what your child learns will be with them for a lifetime. Eating and buying locally is about more than the health benefits, and now is the perfect time to teach them that.

Why Bother?

Why go through the trouble of lugging your kids with you to the farmer’s market when they can just stay home with Daddy? Why bother taking them to the spring when you can go in peace and quiet?

Because eating and buying locally is a lifestyle…and lifestyle is a family affair. The world will teach them that buying a pizza from the chain-hut down the road is fine and dandy for any meal we please, and it is up to us to teach them otherwise.

How do you raise locally-minded kids?

**This post has been entered at Homemaking Link-Up, Encourage One Another Wednesday, Wise Woman Link Up, Welcome Home Wednesday, Whole Foods Wednesday, What We Wore, Read, and Made, What I Learned Wednesday and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #73.**

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11 Comments

  1. LOVE this post! My daughter was born one week into our summer CSA last year and with the exception of a very few pickups, she came to the farm with us every time. I’m so looking forward to taking her out to the farm this summer, now she’s older and interacts more with her surroundings. We’ll definitely be bringing her to some farmer’s markets too. I totally agree–the best way to teach is by including!

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  2. This is so hard for me! Occasionally our grocery store sells local items but not usually. I don’t even know where to buy local items! We are putting in a garden, though, which I’m very excited about.

    Reply

    • Take one step at a time. Choose one thing do to first and do it wholeheartedly. The garden is a great starting point! I would then try to find a local spring or local farmer!

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  3. My three year old absolutely loves our monthly trip to the farm to pick up our meat CSA box. The best part is our local farm always lets us hang out a bit and there are almost always baby pigs or chickens and of course cows grazing to watch. She’s young but she already understands where her meat comes from. And even she knows that cows are supposed to eat grass. 😉

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  4. I really love the sentiment behind this post, but I must admit I am a little hung up on the idea of driving an hour round trip to get water. That seems so *not* local to me. But other than that, I think it’s a great article!

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    • Anything within 150 miles is considered local. It isn’t freeway miles for us, and the spring is located about 20 miles from us. Takes longer because we don’t travel freeway. It is very local! 🙂

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  5. I think driving to get spring water might be a natural foods thing rather than local. Our city water is from nearby river and creeks, but has had chemicals added.
    I totally love it that my kids notice out of season produce. “How did they eat cantelope this time of year?” My answer: it traveled a long way to get here. We do buy the occasional fruit that has travelled, but they recognize that as a rare treat. Farm visits are also great for kids. Mine love knowing that our weekly box of veggies comes from a farm they’ve seen.

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  6. Oh wow! I consider anything more than 30 miles away as way too far away for a shopping trip! A 150+ mile drive is a 2-3 day extravaganzza requiring overnight stays (note I did not say “vacation” LOL). Our large blocks of time are limited during the week due to work and school schedules, plus I work weekends, so those kinds of adventures happen only during the summer when the kids are out of school and our schedules are more lax. We do 99% of our food shopping at stores (simply due to accessibilty here in suburbia) and I usually take my youngest with me (he’s the only one not in school all day yet). We regularly talk as a family about where food comes from and the kids help when they can with dinner prep and/or baking. When questions arise, we look up stuff on the computer, like what a banana tree looks like and where they come from or what milking a cow looks like. We get some “country experiences” on summer driving vacations and when we go visit grandparents who live in the middle of corn country. But, oh no, no driving for hours to get milk or water! If water didn’t come from the faucet or a plastic bottle, we’d succumb to dehydration! LOL. Plus I have found that most “local” food products are soooo much more expensive and don’t fit in the budget 🙁

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  7. […] was reading this post on raising locally minded kids (which is a subject for another post – we love our Farmers’ Market and go almost every […]

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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