Think you can’t teach your child about sustainable food without them getting bored? Think again!
Learning about sustainable food in your child’s early years is important – not just for helping them to become more aware of what they’re eating, but to help them to be more responsible with food in the future. Here’s Kiddit’s guide to learning about food, the fun way!
When it comes to food, it’s likely that your main focus as a parent is encouraging your children to simply eat. Kids are notoriously fussy when it comes to meal-times, and getting them to take a tentative nibble at a piece of broccoli often feels like an uphill struggle.
One way in which you can help your child to develop healthy eating habits, and become more ecologically aware in the process, is to teach them about food sustainability. If this sounds like rather an uninspiring topic, don’t worry – there are plenty of fun ways you can get your kids thinking about food! This guide is here to help you.
What Do You Know About Food Sustainability?
Before you start talking about food sustainability with your child, it’s worth brushing up on the subject yourself first. After all, it’s actually a complex, diverse issue; and you’ll find it easier to help your child understand it if you fully grasp it yourself.
Some issues relating to food sustainability include:
- Increased demand –The world’s population is growing at an incredible rate. It’s currently well over 7 billion, which means an unimaginable amount of mouths to feed. Sustainable America estimates that food demand will continue to grow, increasing globally by 50% in just 40 years. The big question is: how will our planet be able to keep supplying enough food for everyone?
- Over-farming –To meet demand, farmers, fishermen and other food suppliers are using every method available to them to boost food supply. In the oceans, this means certain types of fish are facing extinction, thanks to over-fishing. Farms are using increasing amounts of pesticide and fertiliser to boost their yield, but this may have an effect on the environment.
- Poverty – As demand for food grows, certain staple products increase in price. For the affluent, this isn’t necessarily a problem. However, it is likely to have significant impact on the poor. Who will provide them with food?
- Greenhouse gases – As human beings tastes continue to diversify, the pressure to supply exotic foods increases. This means food has to travel a greater distance, which means increased CO2 emissions that harm the environment.
So, what should you be teaching your child? Of course, the topics you choose to explore are up to you, and likely to be dependent on your kid’s age. However, you may want to get them thinking about:
- Organic Food –Why is organic food better? Where can you buy organic food?
- Local Food – Why is it better to purchase locally? Who benefits?
- Origins –Where does food come from? Are there ‘better’ places for food to come from than others? How is food grown or reared? What happens before it reaches the shops?
- Types Of Food –What types of food are good for you, and which ones can harm your body? What should you eat regularly? What do people eat in different parts of the world?
Exploring Sustainable Food Through Play
If you’d like to help your child learn more about food sustainability through play, here’s some ideas to try out.
Out And About
- Take your child to a local farm, or even a harbour if you live near the sea. Show them how food is grown (or where it lives), how it’s produced, what happens when it’s ready to be eaten and how it’s taken to the shops. Let them touch the plants, feed the animals and experience these things first-hand.
- When you next go shopping, take your child with you. Encourage them to be a ‘food detective’ and examine where different foods come from. Work out which ones create more CO2 when transported to the store, and which ones are produced locally.
- In a restaurant, ask your child to look through the menu and identify which foods are healthy to eat, and which ones should only be eaten as a treat. Talk about how the body uses food and why it’s important to supply it with the right food, in order to stay fit and well.
Role Play At Home
- Create an ‘organic’ café, using a pretend shop set, some play-fruit and vegetables and a table if you have one. Encourage your child to take on the role of café-owner, serving their stuffed toys and dolls. They’ll need to create a healthy organic menu, and explain to their ‘customers’ why it’s better to buy fresh, organic produce.
- Invest in a farm set, and take on the role of farmer, pretending to plough the field, ready to sow some seeds. Ask your child to take on the role of the farmer’s daughter or son, and get them to help feed the animals, explaining how they’ll go on to produce milk, eggs, butter and meat… if they’re well looked after. It’s a great opportunity to discuss how to grow plants and raise animals in a sustainable, responsible way.
- Buy a Plant and Grow Set, or if you have a garden, allocate an area for your child to plant some seeds. Encourage them to take on the role of gardener, and talk about how you can care for the seeds to make sure they grow into healthy plants. Even better, plant seeds that grow into vegetable or fruit-yielding plants – then eat the produce after it has been harvested! If space is really limited, you could even plant a pot of cress in a yoghurt pot on the window ledge, which is likely to grow within a week.
- Create a poster to stick in your window, encouraging passers-by not to waste food. Ask your child to think about how they can make the poster as eye-catching as possible, and also what pictures they’ll need to include to get the message across. And of course, use the opportunity to talk about why it’s important that food doesn’t get wasted.
- If your child loves music, get a toy piano or guitar and create a song for an imaginary concert – all about food. You can have great fun making up lyrics and a tune, and it’s a good opportunity to chat about issues relating to eating.
Thinking Responsibly While Having Fun
Sustainability is an important topic that affects us all, which is why it’s such a great thing to teach children when they’re young. After all, they’re the ones that will inherit this planet, and if they’re knowledgeable about sustainability and eco-friendliness, they’ll be well prepared to help ensure the Earth remains a pleasant place to live in.
If you’d like to explore our range of green and eco-friendly toys for kids, visit us at Kiddit today!