This past summer (sad to say ‘past’ – it is indeed fall now) I discovered something.
I wasn’t looking for it; it found me.
In June, I starting volunteering at my local farmer’s market, working with kids, food and nutrition, as the market’s nutritionist.
At first there was a bit of a scramble on my part to plan what to do. I was even a little nervous. I don’t have kids and really, before this market, had few interactions with them.
I had to consider that we were outdoors, there was no timetable set, kids just came to the Kids’ Corner with their parents, sat at my table and did whatever activity I had planned.
This meant, if I was working with food, I had to think of ways to have kids interact with it, while learning about the value of local, organic food, the soil it’s grown in and just how hard our farmer’s work to produce it and bring it to us.
Every week, I found new ways to do this. My first week, we tasted honey and compared pasteurized processed honey, with raw, unpasteurized honey. It was sticky, messy, fun!
Another week we made ice cream in a bucket. Yes, in a bucket. It was simple…coconut milk with a bit of sugar was added to a cookie tin. This was encased in a bucket full of ice and duck-taped shut. Kids rolled, pushed, kicked and tossed the bucket around. Even my dog got in on the act, and despite his chewing the tape off the bucket and it springing a leak; the end result was indeed, sweet, creamy ice cream. The kids all tried it and loved it. Imagine it was made with 2 ingredients, and the kids loved it.
One week the kids tried kohlrabi. Instead of all the ‘yucks’ you might expect – kids tried it and many really liked it. (If you’re unfamiliar with kohlrabi, check it out here).
Every week we make new things, we made bean dip in a bag with our secret ingredient – peaches. Another hit. Kids couldn’t get enough of it. Last week we made applesauce in a bag. I called it SQUISH-A-LICSIOUS apple sauce because along with the apple in the bag, we added a bit of cinnamon, maple syrup and honey and the kids squished everything together until it became apple sauce. I explained that there are so many varieties of apples that we don’t see in our grocery stores. Some are red, some green, there are even yellow and almost white apples. Some are sweet, some are tart, but they have a natural sweetness and it’s not necessary to add maple syrup or honey. We tried it plain and we tried it with those sweeteners because kids love to participate in the process and have choices. Another hit. The kids loved the applesauce that they made. One little boy ended up laying across the table trying to get more. So wonderful to see children engaged like this and eating food that isn’t packaged or processed and doesn’t have preservatives, artificial ingredients or colours added to it.
As a holistic nutritionist, this is what I’m all about. Real food, as close to the source as possible.
Parents can learn a lot from their children. They are not as artistically challenged as they might think, and they love to try new foods. They also really enjoy having choices, making food and then trying their creations.
I learned a lot from these kids too.
And that brings me to my big discovery.
I love kids and I love working with them.
Teaching them the qualities of good foods, where they come from, how farmers are so important to us, experimenting with new ingredients.
Apparently, (based on feedback from my fellow volunteers and parents) I’m a natural at working with kids. I guess that’s because they offer me so much. Insight and honestly about their likes and dislikes and their sense of adventure when it comes to food.
I’m now looking at working with kids and nutrition as a new branch of my services, as well as continuing to see groups and individuals as a nutritional consultant. I would love to work at schools, community centres or anywhere else where kids and food meet. If anyone has any contacts or connections I would be very grateful.
I couldn’t be happier about this new discovery.
p.s.- to all my Kids’ Corner regulars, newcomers and all the parents; I can’t wait to see you at the market. I know it will be a day of fun and discovery for all of us.