Learning about sustainable food doesn’t have to be dull. Here’s some creative ideas from Kiddit to help you educate your child, whilst having fun!
If you’re a parent, you’ve probably often sighed during meal-times with your child. Neglected peas, half-nibbled potatoes and cold chicken become yet more casualties of the garbage can, leaving you wondering just how you can start educating your kids about the importance of not wasting what’s on their plate.
Of course, fussiness with food is a natural part of your child’s development, and certainly, force-feeding them isn’t the solution. However, there are ways you can teach them to better understand the value of food – and better still, you can do it through play.
Here’s some of Kiddit’s top tips to educating your kids about food sustainability… the fun way!
Food Sustainability – The Key Issues
Before teaching your child, it’s important to first understand what it is you want to teach them about. Sustainable food isn’t about just the one factor; in fact, it’s made up of many contributing elements. These include:
- Growing population – Sustainable America highlights the fact that demand for food is increasing at an alarming rate. In fact, it estimates that calorific demand will increase globally by 50% in just 40 years. That’s a lot of extra mouths to feed. How will it happen?
- Economy – Rising demand means that certain staple products are going up in price. What is the effect of this on different people; for example, those with less money?
- Farming – Again, with increased demand, farmers look for more ways to boost productivity. Is this beneficial to the environment? What about the effects of pesticides? What about land that has been over-farmed, or oceans that have been over-fished? What is the long-term effect?
- Carbon footprint – As tastes for the exotic continue to develop, food has to travel greater distances. This has a knock-on effect on the environment, with transit vehicles producing harmful greenhouse gases.
Bringing It Home…
The Alliance for Better Food and Farming’s definition of ‘good food’ is that it should be made, processed, purchased and consumed in ways that benefit people socially, which boost cultural diversity, which support local communities and which protect natural resources.
Is this all sounding a little heavy-duty? Don’t worry, it’s actually easy to implement some simple activities in the home, to encourage your child to think more responsibly about the food on their plate.
Welcome To The World Of Food
In order for your young child to start understanding about food sustainability, they’ll first need to get an idea about where food comes from. Don’t shy away from explaining the facts – it’s just as important to know where that pork sausage comes from as it is those carrots! Here’s some great play ideas to start your children thinking about food.
- Farm sets – A wooden farm set provides the perfect opportunity to teach your child about where their food comes from. As adult, take on the role of ‘farmer’, and pretend to plough a field, ready to sow some seeds. Look after the animals, explaining how they produce milk, butter, cheese and eventually meat. Let your child take on the role of another character (perhaps the farmer’s child) – and encourage them to ask questions.
- Pretend play food – A pretend food set is a great tool for learning all about food. Your child can group the different kinds of foods, depending on where it has come from; and can even start thinking about which foods are healthy and which are not.
- Sowing seeds – If you have a garden, allocate a patch of soil to your child and let them plant some seeds. If not, a Plant and Grow Set is a great alternative. Encourage them to have responsibility over the seeds, and talk about how you can help them grow healthily, by regularly watering and using sustainable compost and plant feed. When the plant has grown, let your child explore it, and if appropriate, harvest any fruit or vegetables that it’s produced. Even better, eat them together!
Out And About
In addition to exploring food at home, it’s important to take your children to the places where food comes from – where it grows, where it’s purchased and where it’s eaten.
If you have a farm nearby, take your child on a visit. Remind them of their farm set at home, and let them see a real farm in action, with livestock and crops! Let them see all the plants and animals and interact with them wherever possible, as this will enhance their experience.
Take them to places where food is bought. When you next go to the supermarket or local grocers, take your child with you. Ask them to take on the role of ‘food detective’. Their task? They need to find out where certain foods are from – and then you can use this as a chance to explain why buying locally is better, in terms of reducing carbon footprint and ‘food miles’.
Likewise, if you have any local cafes serving sustainable, organic food, take your child along for a special meal. Talk about what you’re eating and why it’s better to eat this sort of food.
Thinking About Sustainable Food With Toys
Getting kids to think about sustainability may seem like a daunting task. After all, it’s a serious issue. However, through play, you can access the topic with greater ease, enabling your child to think about sustainability in an engaging, motivational manner.
- Create a café – Role play is one of the best ways to explore potentially hard-hitting topics with children. Invest in a play kitchen, set up a little table and chairs to represent a ‘café’, and tell your child that they are the owner. They have a number of hungry teddies and dolls to feed in their café… what should they do if they run out of food? What about if the supermarket runs out of food, what then? As a grown-up, you could take on additional roles, such as the organic farmer, who wants to supply to local businesses.
- Make a poster – Tell your child that you’re both on a mission to encourage people not to waste food. Then, get a piece of paper and some paints and design a poster together, which you can stick in the window afterwards. As you’re working, talk about what pictures would best work to get people thinking about food wastage.
- Set up an organic farm shop – If you’ve got a pretend shop, let your child set up a special store, stocking only the finest local fruit and vegetables. Take on the role of ‘curious customer’ and ask your child why their food is so great – children often learn best when they’re taking on the role of ‘teacher’!
Eco-Friendly / Green Toys At Kiddit
Don’t be afraid to explore issues like sustainability with your child. After all, it’s a topic that will always be relevant in their lives, as it is to all of us. The better educated we can make our children in terms of issues such as these, the more positive the outcome for the future.