Food for Children’s Thought

Saturdays at the Coppell Farmers Market create real family outings. Children wander through the booths, parents visit with their friends, and local farmers sell their wares and give advice about healthy eating. Youngsters are beginning to learn that carrots come from the ground rather than plastic packages, that salad greens grow in several varieties, and that making cheese is an art rather than a process of unwrapping an individual package found in the refrigerator.

As youngsters begin to learn about the world around them, parents can encourage that interest through books. In connection to weekly visits to the Coppell Farmers Market, adults can nourish both children’s minds and their bodies. Young children can find a variety of good eats in Lois Ehlert’s Eating the Alphabet: Fruits and Vegetables from A to Z. From apples to zucchini junior foodies get a literary introduction to those foods they may know and some they may not (ugli fruit anyone?), but the bright, mouth watering illustrations might just tempt a taste or two.

Children just beginning to read can begin to see cycle from planting to harvesting with Joan Holub’s The Garden That We Grew. The simple (but not simplistic) rhyming text (“This is the garden that we will grow./This is the patch we will plant row by row.”) follows two children as they prepare, tend, pick, and carve for Halloween their fall pumpkins. And, being good conservationists, they even save the seeds for next year’s crop.

Sharp, clear photographs highlight food’s best friends: Seed Soil Sun: Earth’s Recipe for Food. Clean and pristine, the farming scenes are over romanticized, but the book’s focus on the elements of growth is both scientifically accurate and visually pleasing.

All politics may be local, but gardening goes national in First Garden: The White House Garden and How It Grew by Robin Gravley. This cheerful picture book with its appropriate green and brown color scheme, concentrates on Michelle Obama’s own kitchen garden and what’s grown there. Information on similar historical projects, such as Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden, round out this not too meaty account.

How about a little literary honey with all this produce? Joyfully The Honeybee Man operates his hives on a rooftop in Brooklyn, New York and generously shares the fruits of his labor with his neighbors. Besides offering a sweet story, author Lela Nargi and illustrator Kyrstein Brooker add numerous scientific facts about honeybees in an extended author’s note and through careful diagrams on the end pages.

The reason one grows and buys produce is to eat it, so a cookbook is always in order. Rozanne Gold’s Kids Cook 1-2-3 offers a variety of easy to prepare recipes (and instructions for adult supervision when necessary) all of which require only three ingredients. Although the offerings include meat, such as an easy roast chicken, and desserts, the vegetable (which you may find yourself substituting fresh for frozen) dishes are unusual and pleasing to undeveloped pallets. Spinach with cottage cheese, or carrots and garlic, are particularly favorites with our grandchildren.

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