All too often parents say their children just don’t like vegetables. Maybe that is true. Or maybe it is one of those “parenting myths” that gets repeated by exhausted parents looking to eliminate battles with their youngsters. Goodness knows I’ve latched onto it as I look to make my dinner as peaceful as possible. The shame of it is that more often than not, my children surprise me. On any given day, when I find myself babbling on about holding hands near cars, not petting stray dogs, and how important it is to use the potty BEFORE we get trapped on the HOV lane, I decide to forgo any attempt to “make” my children eat their vegetables. At the end of a long day, that is one fight I don’t have the energy to fight. But what I find is once the vegetable hits the table on my plate it suddenly looks very enticing. I guess its the scarcity mentality of young children thinking that if you have it and they don’t, it must be something good. Little fingers manage to quickly empty my salad bowl, with each child picking out their favorite morsels. This is especially true if the produce traveled home with us from the farmers market. Something about the visual sea of rows of vegetables and fruits lined up on the tables, along with the sights and sounds of the farmers market, makes everything more exciting.
Taking children to one of the numerous farmers markets in Houston provides a wealth of learning opportunities. The various markets each uniquely prove to be entertaining stages for showing the younger generations the importance of supporting local agriculture while they explore the tastes and textures of locally grown produce. I recently reconnected my family with the farmers market, and enjoyed watching my little ones scamper from stall to stall gazing at the colorful tables. For some reason, my children thought we were going berry picking so they brought pails. What a delightful surprise to find such beautiful strawberries in season. We “picked” several pints of strawberries to take home. The children were delighted and ready to indulge.
After watching my more rambunctios child bounce her strawberries around one too many times, I realized we would need a backup plan for her half of the berries. We picked up a tub of plain goat cheese from Swede Farm Dairy. We made a “cooking” project out of those berries that had been lovingly handled to a pulp. The children took turns smashing them into the plain goat cheese, and with a spoonful of Bee Wilde local honey from the Reed family, we had some of the best toppings a bagel ever met.
Berries and other familiar produce are great picks when introducing your family to the farmers market. It’s a great way to start filling your children’s plates full of fruits and vegetables that they find exciting as well as delicious. It is easy to take advantage of this opportunity considering Houston has a farmers market available most days of the week. On Tuesdays, visit the Rice University Farmers Market from 3:30 until 7 p.m.. The Urban Harvest Farmers Markets are open in various locations from Wednesday through Sunday.