Food, Outside

Farmer’s Market: Fresh Food Fun

Farmer’s markets. Fresh food. Friends and neighbors. Childlike fun.

We moved into our new-to-us-home four years ago, the first year the winery around the corner piloted its seasonal farmer’s market. From May to November, walking with our little red wagon — complete with trailer — to the Saturday market has become a family tradition.

We meet friends and neighbors. We visit with farmers who have become friends. The kids balance on beams and race in the grass near the gazebo and grapevines. We sample fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as tamales and hummus and berry pie.

Visiting the farmer’s market has sparked some interesting discussions about where food comes from. The boys understand that farmers grow the food we buy at the farmer’s market. They’ve even visit and picked fruit at local fruit orchards. Still, I don’t think they connect the food we buy at the grocery store with the growers. It’s an ongoing discussion. Recently we talked about how different foods grow best during different seasons; Trader Joe’s was no longer carrying California Cuties (mandarins) and organic apples since they are out of season.

There are some great books available to start a conversation about food with your children. One of the best I’ve seen is How Did That Get in My Lunchbox: The Story of Food by Chris Butterworth. Children learn where lunchbox staples like bread, cheese and juice come from. If you simply want a food celebration, check out two of April Pulley Sayre’s latest releases: Rah Rah Radishes and Go Go Grapes.

You can also turn a visit to the farmer’s market into a game if you are worried about keeping little ones occupied. How about creating a farmer’s market bingo card? Find pictures of seasonal foods your child will find at the market and arrange them five across and five down on card stock. You could cut and paste pictures from magazines or do this in a word processing program. Let your child bring a marker and cross out foods he finds at the market. The first one to get bingo wins a prize, for example a fruit or vegetable of his choice.

Do you have a local farmer’s market? What are some of your favorite experiences?

Books, Nature, Science/Math

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Vulture View

Author: April Pulley Sayre
Illustrator: Steve Jenkins
Publication Info: Henry Holt and Company, 2007
Intended audience: Preschool and up
Genre: nonfiction, picture book (32 pages)
Themes/topics: nature, animals, science, natural history
Opening and synopsis:
“The sun is rising.
Up, up.
It heats the air.
Up, up.
Wings stretch wide
to catch a ride
on warming air.
Going where?
Up, up!”
With her signature lyrical style, April Pulley Sayre tackles the seemingly ungraceful topic of turkey vultures. These animals eat what we wouldn’t dare — stinky, rotting meat. In “Get to Know Vultures” Sayre explains the turkey vulture’s important role in breaking down large, dead animals so mice, beetles, maggots and worms can do their jobs and return nutrients to the soil. She also notes areas that budding scientists might want to study when they grow up. For example, scientists know little about how the vultures communicate and what they do in the winter.
Resources/activities: Sayre includes many resources in “Get to Know Vultures,” however her rich Web site provides even more resources. For teachers, she provides appropriate curriculum standards….here. She also recommends the Turkey Vulture Society. You’ll find a turkey vulture dot-to-dot and crossword puzzle on the State of Ohio’s parks page….here.
Why I like this book: One of my favorite nonfiction PB authors, Melissa Stewart, originally recommended this book as an outstanding example of picture book nonfiction. Sayre’s strength is her lyricism, which makes turkey vultures interesting and attractive. And, of course, Sayre’s stellar writing is paired with illustrations by the legendary Steve Jenkins. The duo have created a not-to-be-missed reading experience.
Every Friday bloggers review “Perfect Picture Books.” Find a complete list of book reviews organized by topic, genre and blogger at author Susanna Leonard Hill’s site.