By Noa Kay, Songbird Haven Farm
CSA is a wonderful way for your family to connect with a local farmer and learn more about how food is grown. But will your kids actually eat the produce in your weekly box? I am not a parent yet but as a camp counselor, middle school teacher and farmer I’ve acquired a few tricks to encourage kids who are reluctant to try something new…like seasonal vegetables!
Let’s start with some basics.
First, invite your kids to participate in opening the CSA box and preparing meals. Grab a step stool and invite them to join you at the kitchen counter. Toddlers can shake a jar of salad dressing (with a tightly closed lid) and help identify the vegetables. Preschoolers love to mix ingredients. Elementary school aged kids can help peel and cut easy to handle produce. Older children can choose a recipe and cook it with your help.
Second, give your kids choices. Forcing kids to eat vegetables only leads to resistance. Many kids (and adults) need a lot of exposure to a new food before they enjoy it. Letting everyone assemble their own pizza, rice bowl, tacos, or salad are great ways to feature many vegetables. With several vegetable options, kids can taste new foods at their own pace.
Finally, keep it simple. A CSA is a commitment and it is important to establish a routine that you can maintain. Below are a few easy ways to encourage your kids to enjoy the CSA bounty each week.
Opening the Box
Everyone loves opening a present! Invite kids to open the CSA box with you. Before you open the box, ask kids what vegetable they think might be inside. As you unpack, learn the names of vegetables in different languages or draw pictures of the most fun vegetable of the week.
A delicious dip can go a long way to encouraging kids to eat raw veggies. There’s even research that suggests kids will eat more veggies if they can dip them in a flavorful sauce.
You can purchase healthy dips or make your own by following these recipes:
Yogurt Ranch Dip: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/yogurt-ranch-5538402
Peanut Ginger Dipping Sauce: https://cookieandkate.com/peanut-dipping-sauce/
Who doesn’t like a make-your-own pizza party? Below are a few easy ideas for toppings and their preparation:
Just chop: spinach, tomatoes, peppers, sweet corn, basil, arugula
Saute: peas, kale, chard, mustard greens, onions, green beans, peppers
Toss in oil and roast: broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, carrots, zucchini, brussels sprouts, winter squash, kohlrabi, radishes
Make personal sized pizzas from your own dough, store bought dough, or pita bread. Add tomato sauce and cheese. Then each person can add their own veggie toppings. Just bake and enjoy!
One More Thought
Kids will be most influenced by watching you! If you enjoy your farm fresh produce, your kids will be inspired.
Noa Kay is a CSA farmer at Songbird Haven Farm, a half-acre farm in the Sammamish Valley on Coast Salish land. Learn more about Songbird Haven’s 2021 CSA and farming practices.