Just because your kids won’t touch a plate of organic chard doesn’t mean you can’t encourage them to eat green. By setting a good example and talking about the impact of your family’s food choices, you can launch them on a lifetime of healthy and eco-conscious eating.
Eat the rainbow. Our bodies and the Earth both benefit when we choose fruits and vegetables rather than lots of meats and highly processed snacks. Tell your child that the closer foods are to their original state, the less likely they are to contain artificial and chemical preservatives.
Involve your child in healthy eating by asking her to help you eat the rainbow every day, choosing green, yellow and red fruits and vegetables. Don't be surprised if you have to remind kids that colorful candies don’t count as rainbow foods!
Buy local. Organic fruits and vegetables are appealing because they are grown without chemicals. But many of them are imported from other countries, which means they require fossil fuels to transport them. Take your children to your local farmer’s market to find delicious products grown close to home. Better yet, take your children to an actual farm. Seeing that apples grow on trees rather than in grocery bins can help them understand the food chain.
Plant a garden. It’s hard to get food any more local than what you grow in your backyard or in your kitchen window. Even city kids can enjoy the satisfaction of growing a tomato plant or a head of lettuce on a sunny balcony.
Make your own pizza. Busy parents everywhere rely on take-out pizza for family dinners. And while it’s hard to beat the convenience, it does come with the environmental cost of delivery and a big cardboard box. Instead, invite children to make their own pizzas. Offer them a ball of dough and a variety of healthy toppings, and watch them smile with pride as they munch on their creations.
Pack a green lunch box. The average lunch box generates a lot of trash, from plastic baggies, to yogurt containers, to straws and plastic spoons. Avoid the mess by packing containers, metal utensils and a cloth napkin that can be washed and reused. Put your child’s name on all the materials in bright colors as a reminder to bring home the special supplies rather than tossing them.
Pass on juice boxes. It’s tempting to buy juice boxes and single serving bags of pretzels or chips when it’s your turn to supply snacks for the preschool class. But why create twenty pieces of trash when you can feed the same group out of a single bag of goldfish crackers?
The same goes for sports team snacks. Rather than bringing individual bottles of sports drinks, pack large pitchers of water and ask all the kids to supply their own water bottles. They don’t need the extra sugar and calories in the sports drinks, and the Earth doesn’t need extra bottles.
Sit down for family meals. Many families eat take-out meals in a hurry, either while riding in the back of the minivan or playing a video game. But such habits promote mindless eating, which results in kids eating more and paying less attention to what goes into their bodies.
Make a resolution to sit down for family meals on a regular basis. This ritual not only helps the Earth but your family as well, promoting better communication and more mindful eating.