Agriculture is a part of all of us, and National Ag Day is a perfect time to recognize and celebrate the abundance provided by agriculture across the United States.
Growing up on a farm, every day was Ag Day. Waking to the shrill crow of the rooster, I would don my denim overalls and sleepily stumble, milk pail in hand, into a dew covered California morning. Our garden was our playground, and when we were hungry, my sister and I would nibble on peas and cherry tomatoes or pull out a carrot, rub it on our pants and pop it right into our mouths, dirt and all. I’d toss the green, leafy tops over the fence to a grateful goat. I thought all kids lived like this.
To me, my garden was full of food and the potential to grow anything that I put in the ground. To the children who visited our farm, the garden was nothing more than leaves in boxes of dirt. I remember specifically watching the expressions of shock and awe on their faces as I pulled a carrot from the earth. It was as though I had unsheathed Excalibur from a rock, the way they stared at me. Most children think their food comes from stores, wrapped in plastic.
When children are connected to their food, they make healthier eating choices. Connecting children to where their food originates can build their conceptual understanding of food sources, while also providing an opportunity to form healthy eating habits and learn about the environmental implications of growing organically, sustainably, and locally. We need to talk to children about food, show them fresh produce, have it in our homes, and cook and eat it ourselves.
In observation of National Ag Day, take a moment to connect a child to their food. Here are some ideas:
- Take them to a local farmer’s market and then cook your purchases together!
- Plant a kitchen garden together – tomatoes grow great in containers!
- Visit a local farm to let them see where eggs, milk, chicken and other foods come from!
- Join a Community Supported Agriculture Group (CSA) – this helps the farmers, and every box is a seasonal adventure for your child!
Agriculture is a vital part of our lives. This National Agriculture Day, March 21, 2017, take a moment to connect a child to their food and to the earth.