I’ll admit that I have spent hours in the kitchen experimenting with different vegetable recipes in an effort to find ones my daughter will enjoy. Luckily, my hard work occasionally pays off and she eats a decent amount of healthy greens. But, a year ago I began to wonder: isn’t there a way to encourage my child to eat vegetables that doesn’t involve slaving away at the stove all day?
The answer, my friends, is vegetable fairs and festivals. Not too long ago, my family attended a fungus fair in Santa Cruz, Calif. Held inside a local community center, the Santa Cruz Fungus Fair featured mushroom displays, cooking demonstrations and classes. Admittedly, my husband and I felt a bit claustrophobic in the building, which was packed with locals and tourists eager to learn about fungi. And, we were ready to go after a quick lap around. But, our daughter didn’t want to leave. The fair featured a room for kids where she was able to mold mushrooms out of clay, stamp mushrooms onto paper bags and get her face painted with brightly-colored fungi. A table filled with mushrooms was also in the room for the children’s viewing pleasure, giving the kids a sense of how many different types of mushrooms are out there in the world. The display also noted safety tips in case they ever found one outside. Let’s just say my daughter, who liked eating mushrooms before we went to the fair, learned more that day about mushrooms than she ever did at our dinner table. And, my husband and I discovered that we can teach our child about vegetables without having to step foot in a kitchen.
That said, if you do enjoy spending time in the kitchen but need more recipe ideas, festivals are a great way to find inspiration. Last year, my family attended the Artichoke Festival in Castroville. Much bigger than a fair, the Artichoke Festival was held outdoors and entertained kids with rides, shows and displays of characters like mermaids and birds made out of artichokes. Meanwhile, adults could watch cooking demonstrations, get free recipe cards and shop for artichokes and other vegetables at produce stands. There were also a number of booths dishing up artichokes in creative ways: grilled, fried, tossed in tacos and baked in cupcakes. My family had fun figuring out which was cooking method was our favorite.
If there isn’t a fair or festival near your home, try finding a farmers market or a local farm that offers tours. The lessons your child learns during the outing is bound to make a difference at home.