Teaching Children Where Food Comes From (Besides the Store!)
Last week I had one of those moments where I felt like an utter parenting failure. Liam and I were playing cars on his car mat when I suggested our cars drive over to the farm on the mat to get some fruits and vegetables. Liam looked at me like I was crazy and said, “Mama, food comes from the store, not the farm.” It was a passing comment on his part, and probably one I shouldn’t have found terribly surprising given that from his experience, food does come from the store. Sure, we’ve been to farms to pick apples and pumpkins and pet animals but I think those experiences were more akin to visiting an amusement park than seeing how food is grown. I couldn’t help but feel like I was raising my child in a Chipotle ad dystopia. I wanted to do something about it right away but in the middle of winter in a suburb just outside Boston, it felt like my options were limited.
I settled on us planting seeds for a little herb garden – starting small. I have a total black thumb and by that I mean, I would love to have a huge edible garden from which I’m plucking beautiful ripe tomatoes and peppers and cucumbers all summer long but I’ve found that I’m a combination of too busy, too uncommitted and too forgetful to actually pull it off. In fact, I have a plant sitting on my desk as I type this, the kind you’re not supposed to be able to kill, that is clinging to life given my negligence. But I’m convinced this might be the year we turn things around mainly because incorporating Liam in the process means I’m not allowed to forget to water lest I have a routine-driven toddler telling me every two seconds that “WE NEED TO WATER MAMA!” Liam was psyched about the whole experience of planting the seeds (mainly about wearing the Mickey Mouse gardening gloves I bought him but hey, whatever it takes). We haven’t seen any growth yet but we’re both very excited about the prospect.
We’re still a ways off from my dreams of a robust edible garden but I feel a little better knowing that Liam will (hopefully) at least experience how awesome it is to eat something you grew with your own hands.