Liz Iudakhina

Liz Iudakhina

Mar 30, 2024. 4 mins read

Sustainability

From Farm to Table: Your Guide To Teaching Kids About Sustainable Eating

As busy parents, we're constantly juggling the desire to raise well-rounded children with the challenges of daily life. 

Amidst all the important and practical tips that last a lifetime, one vital lesson stands out: teaching our kids about sustainable eating. From instilling healthy habits and independence from a young age to cultivating a sense of responsibility towards our planet, the journey from farm to table is definitely one to emphasise!

Happy family in the kitchen with vegetables

How exactly to go about it will look slightly different for each family. And of course, it’s also important to keep the messages age-appropriate! For example, while younger kids will appreciate simple hands-on activities and short stories, older kids may benefit from more in-depth discussions about sustainability and green living. 

Sounds complicated? It needn’t be, as we’ve packed this guide with practical suggestions and ideas to inspire your family’s unique farm to table journey.  

1. Green Thumb: The Wonders Of Gardening 

Gardening is a wonderful tool for kids of all ages to develop new skills – and, of course, discover where their food comes from! It’s messy, fun and varied enough so the entire family can find a way to participate. 

There’s no need for anything complicated to be involved, either. Start small – a few pots on the balcony, a tiny patch in the backyard, or even a window box will do. And here is another mum hack: for quick wins that are sure to boost your little green thumbs’ enthusiasm, opt for easy-growers like tomatoes, lettuce, or herbs. 

If your littles are a bit too young to be involved in the actual upkeep of your own slice of sustainable eating heaven, there are plenty of other ways to involve them – from decorating the pots to making plant markers. And as the plants grow, so will your children’s curiosity and understanding of the natural cycle of life. Discuss the importance of water, sunlight, and love in growing food. It’s a beautiful way to teach them about patience and the rewards of nurturing nature.

2. Kitchen Adventures: Cooking Together

Cooking is so much more than just following a recipe (although if you need ideas, we’ve got you). It's an art, a science, a fun activity - and when it comes to sustainable eating, a lesson in making responsible choices. 

Where possible, involve your children in meal planning, emphasising the use of local, seasonal produce. Visit farmers' markets together or choose Australian-grown foods in your local supermarket. This not only supports local farmers but also reduces the carbon footprint associated with transporting food long distances.

And when it’s time to turn on that stove, approach cooking as an exploratory adventure! Let your kids wash the veggies, mix ingredients, or even chop (with supervision, of course). In the process, discuss the nutritional benefits of the meals you're preparing. 

This hands-on involvement not only makes them more likely to eat what they’ve helped prepare but also teaches them the value of homemade meals over processed food, as well as the impact of everyday sustainable living practices.

3. Recycling and Composting: Closing the Loop

When all is said and done - or rather, eaten - it’s time for a lesson in understanding the life cycle of food beyond consumption. Enter recycling and, where practical, composting - the ultimate sidekicks of sustainable eating! 

Overall, Australia has a shaky relationship with recycling practices, with approximately 76 million tonnes of waste produced each year, surpassing the impact of waste management efforts. However, within each family, we have the power to make an impact!

And fortunately, there’s a lot of fun to be had in the process. Recycling packages, for example, can be turned into a game. Who can clean and sort their recyclables the fastest? Go, go, go, little ones! This activity not only teaches kids about waste management, but also the importance of reducing plastic use. 

If practical, another great green living activity is starting a compost bin within your home - involving your kids in adding scraps, of course! It’s a great opportunity to explain how composting returns nutrients to the soil, helping grow more food and thus closing the loop of food production.

4. Story Time: The Journey of Food

Understanding where food comes from is crucial in appreciating the effort behind every meal

Time to create an exciting story around the journey of a particular food item from farm to table! For instance, trace the path of a loaf of bread from the wheat fields, to the milling process, and finally to baking; explore how milk travels from a dairy farm to the breakfast table; or have an age-appropriate conversation with your littles about eating meat.  

If you’re stumped for ideas, pay a visit to your local library – books and educational resources tailored to children can be of great help! However, nothing beats first hand experience. If possible, visit a local farm or a community garden. Many places offer tours tailored for kids, making it an educational outing for the entire family!

Teaching our children about sustainable eating is so much more than just a series of mundane lessons! It's about shaping the future, one meal at a time. It's about raising a generation that values and understands the importance of sustainable living. And while the journey might seem daunting at first, remember, every small step counts.

By involving our children in gardening, cooking, and understanding the journey of their food, we're not just teaching them how to eat healthily. We're instilling in them the values of sustainability, responsibility, and respect for the planet. These are lessons that will serve them well, long after they've outgrown their garden patches and kitchen stools.

Liz Iudakhina

Liz Iudakhina

Researcher . Dietitian . Crazy cat lady . Toddler mum

When she’s not decoding the universe or negotiating with a tiny human over juice vs. water ratios, you’ll find her cuddled up with two meowing furballs. A true plate-spinning pro, she turns broccoli into superhero snacks and threads various facets of motherhood into delightful stories.

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