The magic of picking your own fruit!
If you haven't had a chance yet this summer to get your children out on a farm picking their own fruit... what are you waiting for?
There's a lot more to picking fruit than you might at first think. First, it is a wonderful way for children to see how and where certain fruits grow. And it's a super sneaky way to get them to try some new fruits they might never have had before (gooseberries anyone?) If you tell them they absolutely must NOT sneak any fruit into their mouths you can pretty much bet you will find them around the corner doing exactly that. So guess what... fruit servings for the day are basically taken care of.
Remarkably few children have an understanding (or appreciation) for how food gets from the farm to our table and this is such a fun hands-on way to get them outside and seeing how it all works. You will end up discussing which fruits grow on trees and which grow on bushes, which berries are ripe and sweet and how sometimes you need to get right down underneath the bush to find the ones other people missed. You can compete over who gets the most berries. You can do taste tests on which ones are your favorites. But mostly it's an opportunity to just show them that picking out fresh fruit is fun and delicious.
We went to Lewin Farms and managed to get raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. And next week I think they will have peaches. We might have to go back.
Rules/Challenges to make the most out of your day
1. Go with friends. If the children get tired of picking fruit after ten minutes (which is definitely a possibility) they will still have fun zooming down the rows of fruit chasing their friends.
2. Call ahead and make sure you know when the farm is open and what fruit is available to pick. It can change day to day.
3. Pack sunscreen, hats and bottles of water.
4. Have endless conversations about what you might make with all this fruit (if, of course, you don't eat it all on the car ride home).
Gemma Saylor RDN, CDN is a registered dietitian nutritionist based in Long Island NY. She is the founder of The Food Wizard for Kids - Making food and nutrition fun for the whole family.