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Archive for Friday, March 10, 2006

Help Kids Grow, One Plant At A Time

March 10, 2006

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Ask any school-age child what they want for dinner and they'll probably say pizza, chicken fingers or macaroni-and-cheese. Try to get them to try a new fruit or vegetables, and the response you'll get is "yuck." By giving your children the chance to grow their own food and teaching them how to cook it, you could help them gain a lifelong appreciation for the green foods that sustain us, according to the National Gardening Association.

We live in a time when fast food is king and families spend less time eating together. Childhood obesity and related diseases are quickly becoming a national epidemic, and eating more fruits and vegetables can help kids stay fit and live happier lives.

Help your child gain an appreciation for healthy foods by getting them involved in gardening. The power of "I did it myself" is a message children will carry with them forever. Here are some tips to get you started:

Plan a garden adventure

Spend time outdoors exploring, hoeing and even weeding to teach them about different kinds of plants and how they grow. Let your kids dig in the dirt and get muddy.

Talk about healthy foods

Start planning a healthy food garden with a trip to the grocery store. Go to the produce section and point out different kinds of fruits and vegetables. Allow the children to decide what kinds they want to grow. Corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins or strawberries are popular picks.

Make gardening a habit

Tend to the garden as you would a pet. Spend a little time each day taking care of the seeds and plants the children grow. Do behind-the-scenes maintenance of kids' gardens, keeping them edged and weeded. Don't expect kids to do all the watering and pest control.

Relax your standards

Crooked rows and weeds could be okay.

Everyone in the kitchen

At harvest time let your kids help you cook the crop. Show them how to butter the corn, add sugar to the berries for an ice cream topping or make a Greek salad.

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