Since running the sampling tent at the Champaign Farmers’ Market this season, I’ve busted a big myth. I’ve witnessed it with my own eyes and I can validate that kids really DO like eating vegetables.I always hear people comment on how their child refuses to eat anything green. I’m not a parent myself, but I’m sure it can be VERY difficult at times to get a child to eat a vegetable over mac and cheese or cheetos if they are used to those foods regularly. Some days, that might be hard for me too (busted….), but I’m continually surprised on Tuesday evenings how many kids try new veggies at the Market and end up really liking them. Curiosity, and then joy fill their faces as they decide something is delicious that they didn’t expect to be good in the first place… veggies aren’t tasty… OH WAIT….. I liiiike this! Not all kids like all veggies – I’ve seen my fair share of disgust. I’ve had to remind a lot of kids that they don’t need to hold the food in their mouth if they don’t like it…. But overall, I’m thoroughly surprised to see the curiosity and openness to new veggies and fruits at the market – thanks parents.
A couple of weeks ago, I had a family of 5 (2 parents, 3 kids of varying ages) come up to the booth to try the variety of cucumber (from Pheasant Ridge Farm), kohlrabi (from Meyer Produce), carrots (from PrairiErth Farm), and bok choy (from Sola Gratia Farm) that I had to taste. The children tried one of each, but for some reason, one of the younger children REALLY loved the carrots. After trying the carrot, she burst a huge smile as she chewed, and ended up coming back to the booth at least 3 times before the end of the market for more. Yes, I will give your children unlimited veggies if they want them!
Later in the day, I had two lovely ladies (about 10 or 11) on a serious shopping trip around the market – purses in hand, ready to sample the local flavor. They tried my bok choy and cucumber that day, never trying bok choy before in their lives. After sampling, they very kindly said, “Very good. We might be back to buy some later – thanks!” Very professional shoppers in their approach. After about 15 minutes, the ladies did return and asked if they could purchase both items. I told them sure, and showed them the vendors they could purchase these items from at the Market. It was fun to see kids picking veggies at the market over sweet treats and other prepared foods. Kids are serious shoppers, and they usually end up encouraging their parents to purchase new veggies, fruits and items that they have tried.
I can’t tell you how excited I am to see kids trying a veggie like kohlrabi, or breakfast radishes, or carrots and absolutely loving them so much so that they pull their parents to the booth to have them buy their newly found love for this vegetable or fruit. I don’t know why – the exploration of a child trying new things just is exciting to me – they get to have this experience for the very first time and their reactions are real and unfiltered. I wish more kids would try veggies, but I’m hoping that we can be a tasting lab to those interested. Thanks to the parents who encourage their children to try these new items and purchase them at the market, not only helping your kids make healthy choices on their own but spending at the market, supporting our local economy of farmers. And also – sorry to the parents who were not expecting to have to buy more produce that day….. but thank you 🙂
Come by the sampling tent each Tuesday at the Downtown Champaign Farmers’ Market. Today, I’ll be featuring radish from Sola Gratia Farm and chive butter on Pekara Bakehouse baguette, Burning Oak Farm bacon, and one other delicious surprise item. The sampling is growing from just trying veggies into finding whole meals at the Market. I look forward to seeing you there – and bring your kids to try some items too!
*** Thank you to Sam Logan at Smile Politely for the wonderful photos in this blog. To see more Market photos, click here!