44. When food shopping, talk to your child about what you see -- from kumquats to lobsters. Talk about where food items come from. Talk about the people who help us by growing, picking, transporting, and displaying food.
We rock on this one. K1 (who is four) helps me bake all the time, and he knows the difference between baking soda and baking powder. My kids have eaten tamarinds. They aren't for the faint of heart. We even planted some potatoes (K1 bought one from the plant store--totally his idea!). They were then promptly dug up a couple days later so that he could see if they had grown any bigger.
Ha ha. Potatoes. That reminds me of the time that I went to a conference regarding GMO foods, and a health-food-store owner told a story about a woman who walked into the store, took one look at the bin of dirty potatoes (he'd heard that they keep better if you leave some of the dirt on them), and started chewing out the staff; how dare they be so horrible as to let the potatoes get dirty!
Um, yeah, potatoes grow in the ground. In. Under. As in, you have to dig them up and wash them in order for them not to be dirty. Onions, beets, and carrots are like that, too, by the way. Tamarinds grow on trees. Or at least, they do in the picture on the box that they came in.
Anyway, now I'm reminded of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. I watched the episode from the UK; one girl could identify a few of the vegetables, but most of the kids could only tell you the colour. That is kind of sad.
(I was talking about this with a coworker, and she told me of the time that some British exchange students were billeted at her house for a weeknight; they had their usual meal of meat, potatoes, and vegetables. The girls were mortified that the family had gone out of their way to prepare them a Sunday dinner for them. I remember that being a standard dinner at my house--meat, potatoes or rice or pasta, two veggies (one green, one "yellow" (cauliflower was in the "yellow" category)) and a salad. Every meal.)
That (two paragraphs up) reminds me of the kids in Super Size Me who all knew who Ronald McDonald was, but couldn't identify Jesus. Actually, my kids probably don't know who Jesus is yet, either, since we don't go to church, but also don't know Ronnie. At least, I don't think that they do. Whatever happened to the Hamburgler?
Anyway, what I think that I'm trying to say on this one is that yes, kids totally need to know where food comes from (beyond a grocery store), but if the parents don't know, and aren't interested in finding out, and would rather buy a pre-made salad instead of making one, those kids are going to grow up thinking that all food comes from a shelf at the store, and all you have to do is open up the bag or the box and pop it in a microwave or oven to "cook" it. I guess at least that's a slightly higher skill set than going through a drive-through every day. I'll give them that.
I'm still all for teaching my kids from where real food originates, how it grows, and how to prepare it. K1 is really good at stirring; most of the batter stays in the bowl, now. K2 is pretty interested, too, and he's 18 months; he's constantly dragging a chair over so that he can see what's going on. Pretty soon I may even get K1 prepping meals, and not just baked goods. As long as it's fun, he's totally in to it. And he's learning some fractional math already, and he doesn't even know it!
Now if only he was as in to the cleanup part like his brother; you cannot keep that kid out of the dishwasher. Sometimes literally.
Speaking of cleanup, I should probably run.
Oh, and I dare you to leave a few tamarinds lying around your house when you have company coming!!