There is growing concern about unhealthy eating habits in children and youth including not eating enough vegetables and fruit and consuming too many processed foods and beverages. Involving children in food literacy programs, particularly those involving participatory cooking and learning, helps children learn where food comes from, how to choose and prepare healthy food—and can result in healthy eating behaviours such as choosing more vegetables and fruit.
The Ontario Food and Nutrition Strategy is a cross-government, multi-stakeholder coordinated approach to food policy development. The vision is for productive, equitable and sustainable food systems that support the wholistic health and well-being of all people in Ontario. It is a plan for healthy food and food systems in Ontario. One of it’s strategic directions include ensuring people in Ontario have access to and the means to choose and obtain safe, healthy, local and culturally acceptable food. Another is ensuring food literacy skills, so people in Ontario have the information, knowledge, skills, relationships, capacity and environment to support healthy eating and make healthy choices where they live, gather, work, learn and play. They are trying to accomplish these aims at all levels of community, from classrooms to policy.
What can families do?
To promote food literacy, healthy eating habits, and healthy food choices in children, Pick-Your-Own Farms are one thing that families and caregivers can get involved with – and they are becoming quite the trend here in Ontario. You can enjoy the feeling of picking right from the bush, vine, or plant, and many of the farms are bringing in agri-tourism activities like wagon rides, play areas, and corn mazes so a great time can be had by all.
Creating Together arranged another memorable field trip for dozens of children, parents and caregivers to enjoy the experience of picking their own fruit locally. In addition to picking buckets full of strawberries, children enjoyed the other attractions offered at Downey’s such as minigolf, speedway, kritter korral, train, and jumping pillows.
Here are some advantages to picking your own:
- Research shows that when children are involved in the basics of food preparation, they are more likely to eat it.
- PYO is great exercise for the entire family.
- Spending the day together in the fresh air and sunshine is great for health, relaxation,
- You are creating memories as a family!
- You are engaging in an experience that can impact the health of your little ones for years to come.
- It teaches children that all food comes from the earth, grown over time, and tended gently by people to pick and bring them to the store / table. This promotes deeper respect for food, and gratitude for what goes into it.
For more information about Downey’s or to see what other attractions and activities they hold all year round to help children and their families connect with the bounty of the earth, take a look at their website: http://www.downeysfarm.com/