As soils are ravaged by pesticides and depleted of minerals, crops become less nutritious over time. According to the biotech industry, the food that grows naturally from the earth isn’t good enough, so the DNA must be rearranged, the crops must be doused in chemicals, and the end product should be irradiated, leaving nothing but processed food products that have become all too common at the grocery store.
As nutrition levels of food are reduced across the board, how can parents ensure that their child gets proper nutrition?
Children are bombarded on a daily basis with junk food ads, icons, slogans, logos and brands. Coupons and store deals usually promote the worst kind of food products, too. Being on a strapped budget, it’s easy to pack the cart full of this junk.
Don’t be lenient but definitely don’t be strict
Making sure that children receive proper nutrition CANNOT be accomplished by being overbearing and strict. For a long time, leniency was thought to be the cause of raising overweight children, but according to this study, strict parents are more likely to raise overweight children.
Instead of being too strict or too lenient, it’s best to educate children so they can make up their own minds as they grow.
Read books and watch videos about food and herbs
For example, a book like To Market, To Market by Nikki McClure, may inspire the entire family to pursue local food at farmers markets. This book is about a mother and son who go to the weekly farmers market to find out how each food is produced and grown.
A book like The Good Garden, by Katie Smith Milway, introduces children to sustainable farming practices that can be implemented right at home.
To learn more about natural health, watching Shoshanna Easling’s Making Herbs Simple Volumes I and II will help the family identify highly nutritious herbs and learn how to prepare them as food and medicine.
Adopting new curriculum
Materials like the above mentioned would make great supplements to a homeschool curriculum. Advanced farm-to-school and environment-based curricula could be encouraged in either public or homeschool settings. For example, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution provides food education to schools, business, youth groups and communities, teaching facts on fruits and vegetables and the diseases that go along with junk foods. Hooking up with organizations like Growing Food Connections can help prepare children to be leaders in food systems planning.
It’s shocking that public schools fail to teach gardening across the board. Nutrition education should be required alongside math and English. Educational programs like Catherine Gund’s What’s on Your Plate? project follows families in their journey to learn more about the food system, discovering the importance of knowing what goes into food, where it comes from and who creates it.
Starting a family garden will help bring the education experience to life.
Of course, there are plenty of interactive games like DOOF that can be played to help kids understand nutrition, but there’s something about digging into the soil that teaches the fundamentals. Also, by including children in meal planning and establishing family meal times, a sense of togetherness can be allowed to thrive. An interesting study by the University of Florida found that coordinating family meal time builds stronger family bonds, reduces the likelihood of obesity and increases the likelihood that everyone enjoys a balanced, nutritious diet.
To take it a notch further, engaging children and other families in community gardens and small-scale farming will have a lasting community impact. For example, in Todmorden, England, Incredible Edible plant gardens were started and are popping up all over the town, as schools engage in the process of knowing where food comes from.
Lastly, it’s important to help children understand the importance of biodiversity. At SeedMap.org, an interactive map helps families learn about seed diversity around the world. It’s important to know that the biotech industry has continually pushed away biodiversity in agriculture, encouraging highly profitable monoculture while discouraging the backbone of quality living — nutrition.
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