Go green with your kids

Mar 12, 2010 at 7:18 a.m. ET

You’ve decided to green your kitchen and feed your family organic, locally sourced, in-season foods. Take it as the perfect opportunity to green your kids – the kitchen is a great place to teach them eco-friendly eating and cooking skills. Here’s how to go green in the kitchen while giving your tykes valuable eco-friendly tools that they will take into adulthood.

Boy with vegetables from garden

8 Tips to go green in the kitchen with your kids

1. Talk with your kids

Instead of just springing organic products onto your kids, have a sit-down conversation with them to explain the differences – and health values of – organic and local food as compared to conventional foods. Teaching your kids about organic foods at a young age will help them embrace an eco-friendly kitchen attitude.

2. Take your kiddos grocery shopping

Take your kids grocery shopping and let them help pick out items, especially fruits and vegetables. Let them see the difference between organic and conventional products, including labels, location in the store and even appearance. Because your kids will have an active part in choosing the ingredients for dinner, they will be more likely to appreciate – and happily eat – their meals. They will also better understand the meaning of organic.

3. Buy in-season produce

Instead of letting your kids have apples year round, get them used to eating only in-season produce. Make up a chart that shows the growing seasons of their favorite fruits and vegetables so they will know when to except certain produce. Be sure to explain that in-season foods are fresher, better for the environment and support the local farmers.

4. Take your kids to the organic source

To really help your kids understand organic food and going green, take them to a local organic farm for a tour of the farm. Let your kids talk to the farmers about how the food is grown and encourage your tykes to taste the freshly picked produce. This will raise their awareness of organic, local foods and help them understand what it takes to grow the foods they eat. You can also visit an organic dairy to teach your kids about the origin of the milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products they have on a daily basis.

5. Plant a garden with your kids

If you are lucky enough to live in an area with a backyard or room for a garden, take advantage of the space and plant a garden with your kids. After all, there is nowhere more local than your own home. Start simple and grow a few herbs or vegetables, letting your kids take part in the planting, watering and harvesting. Your kids will be amazed that they actually grew the food they are eating.

6. Get cooking

Get your kids involved in the kitchen cooking the family meals. They've taken part in choosing or perhaps even growing some of the ingredients and will enjoy having a hand in transforming those ingredients into healthy dishes the whole family will eat. Not only is cooking fun for kids, you will be giving them important kitchen skills that they can use when they are adults to feed their own families homecooked meals.

7. Pack a healthy lunch

Dinner is an important meal to sit down and enjoy as a family, but you can also send your kids to school with a healthy, organic lunch. As with meal planning for homecooked meals, let your kids help choose the organic foods they want for lunch – from the soup or sandwich ingredients to the fruit or snack and drink.

8. Make it fun

You certainly don't want your kids to view eating organic and local food as a chore. Make the change to organic fun – letting them pick out foods, help cook organic meals, even grow a few organic produce items -- and be sure they are aware that organic, locally grown goods are just as tasty, if not more so, than conventionally-sourced foods.

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