Do you like eating fresh fruits and vegetables? If you do, that’s great, but don’t worry even if fruits and vegetables are not your or your child’s favorite. There are many ways to interact with fresh produce beyond just eating it!
Last Friday, July 7, 2017, Boston Children’s Museum hosted the opening event of Fresh Fridays, partnering with Boston Public Market and supported by Harvard Pilgrim HealthCare Foundation. Fresh Fridays came out of our collaborative wish to help children and families enjoy more fresh local produce and have a more enjoyable time with food. For the young children to be more interested in fruits and vegetables as well as healthy eating in general, we wanted to create a program in which everyone feels safe and can have fun together from a variety of angles beyond just preaching, “eat your vegetables”. Many experts suggest that having early, positive experiences around food as a family can help children develop more curiosity about food and the willingness to try new food. With this philosophy in mind, we developed a series of activities representing the ideas of “shopping together,” “cooking together,” and “eating together.’
For example we set up a produce stand where children could pick fresh produce to take home (see above). The fresh produce, with its different shapes and colors, attracted the children, and showed them the fun in choosing their own vegetables!
Another stand was a cooking demonstration, where the visitors saw and participated in making zucchini noodles with pesto:
The demo offered a creative idea for eating zucchini, especially if the typical sautéed zucchini is not a child’s favorite.
Cooking is also not just about following a written recipe – regardless of skill level, we can all be the chef and make our own dishes so that the food tastes even yummier! To encourage children to think about creating their own dish, a Museum staff member asked questions to encourage children to think about what they would add to a presented recipe, or other recipes that were handed out by Boston Public Market. We heard various answers ranging from “I want to add strawberries because they are my favorite!” to “Let’s put some red peppers to add more colors.” Children are often passively waiting for a meal to be served and not given many choices for times when they don’t like certain food. Although it’s not a good idea to serve only things that children typically like to eat, these cooking demo/recipe activities show that including children in the food preparation process can help children participate in choosing what ingredients will be used to make a dish.
At another station, visitors also enjoyed delicious Mediterranean salad and pitas dip, provided by Inna’s Kitchen. The smiles of people eating the tasty food was very inviting! While enjoying the food, visitors also had the chance to design their own fruits and vegetables:
We asked questions such as, How would they taste? What season or climate does the vegetable grow in and how is it harvested? What kind of dish would you make with it? All those questions encouraged children to think about farming and the range of types of produce. Additionally, visitors received many resources and ideas to help make family mealtime fun, provided by The Family Dinner Project.
If you missed the first one, not to worry, there will be more! Fresh Fridays are happening every Friday evening in July. And if we saw you at the first event, come again! There will be different recipes and activities and awesome music to enjoy wonderful evenings together!