One of the best things about kids is that they are really blank slates. You can tell them anything and they’ll believe you. I love watching their little minds begin to grasp concepts but only go so far, because they can only pull from their own experiences.
Take the concept of where food comes from. I asked the girls that very question a few weekends ago when Bernie’s Farm, a new organic product from Annie’s, sent us a big box of snacks, produce and a kit to build an indoor vegetable garden.
“Where does food come from?”
“From the refrigerator!” Mazzy shouted, excited to show off that she knew the answer.
“Where does food come from before it gets to the refrigerator?” I asked.
“From the store!!!”
Well, she wasn’t wrong.
“Where does it come from before the store?”
Blank stare. I decided to be more specific. “Where do apples come from before they get to the store?”
“Where do carrots come from before they get to the store?”
“From the ground!”
“Where does milk come from before it gets to the store?”
“Where does chicken come from before it gets to the store?”
Well, that was a slightly better grasp on the food chain than the one Mazzy had last summer when she informed me chickens you eat are not in any way related to live chickens. Silly Mommy!
“How do you think the apples get from the trees to the store?” I asked.
Another blank stare. I explained, “It comes from apple orchards where people work as farmers, picking the apples and selling them to the store for people to buy for their homes to feed their families.”
Mazzy is learning about jobs in kindergarten so this made sense to her. I’m not sure what Harlow understood but she at least looked like she was paying attention.
I continued to explain about different farms— how pasta and bread come from wheat farms, how cows in dairy farms produce milk and how farmers use that milk to make butter and cheese.
Mazzy and Harlow have visited apple orchards and working farms out on eastern Long Island before, and they frequently pass corn fields and farmers’ markets as we drive around town. They have loved picking strawberries and bottle feeding sheep, but I know not all kids have access to real farm experiences, especially kids who live in urban areas.
Annie’s, one of our long time favorite kid brands, has always been dedicated to farmers, organic ingredients and local food sources. They have recently introduced Bernie’s Farm snacks, made with real fruit & vegetable extracts like beet, blueberry and carrot as an alternative to synthetic food dyes.
The new snacks also feature playful barnyard shapes, such as farm animals, tractors and carrots that they’re hoping will create an opportunity for parents to teach their kids more about the value of food and how it gets from farm to table.
To continue the conversation, I broke out the indoor gardening kit and spent the day planting seeds with the girls in our kitchen.
I am not a gardener, so I wasn’t sure how much fun this would be, but the kids had a blast. They got to expand dirt by pouring water on mud pods, shovel it into little pots, plant seeds, label each flower, berry and vegetable and set them all up where they would get the most sun.
The coolest part was showing them the carrot seeds we were planting would become the fully grown bunch of carrots (also found in our box). And then explaining that those carrots could be eaten raw, cooked or used to make the food dye that made the chicken-shaped animal cookie orange.
Mazzy and Harlow loved the new snacks. The crackers, cookies and gummies all come in vibrant purples, oranges and reds that you don’t normally associate with all natural ingredients. You can taste the difference too. They kept requesting specific shapes or getting excited when they would find a new barnyard shape they hadn’t seen before.
Personally, I’m a sucker for the gummies and it was tough to save a few packs for the kids!
When we were finished, I brought our little garden back to Manhattan in a box, so we would be there to water it every day. I wasn’t sure anything would grow since the girls did most of the work, but I was wrong! It has been thrilling to see the little sprouts begin to form and rise above the dirt. Mazzy and Harlow have been very diligent about watering it with their toy teapot.
I’m hoping we can take the plants back to the summer house when the time is right and start a real garden outdoors where our plants actually have room to grow. We’d have beets, blueberries, carrots, green beans, sunflowers, and peas.
The only thing is— Mazzy and Harlow might learn one more lesson about the food system. When the Long Island deer discover our yard.
“Where do the peas come from?” Mama Deer will ask the baby deer.
“From the people with the summer house who planted that fenceless garden!”
This post was sponsored by Annie’s, but all thoughts, opinions and little gardeners are my own.