I remember my grandmother telling me stories about visiting the ‘market’ every day, on foot, to obtain food for her family. The butcher, the fruit & vegetable farmer, the cheese-maker – they were all there (except for the milk, which was delivered right to her back door!). What I found quite interesting was the relationships that were developed with those who made a living out of literally creating food. Regular, person to person conversations with farmers - the people responsible for feeding the world. When put into those terms, it brings into focus the important role that farmers play in our society. Obviously, I was not there in the 1940’s, but my grandmother would share with me that what was available varied greatly. If there was a drought, there would be a shortage of fruit that year. If there was an insect infestation, crops would be destroyed. If animals became ill, there would be a limited supply of a particular meat. If there was a war, there would be a shortage of labour for harvesting. If conditions were good, there would be an abundance. These conversations would occur regularly while grandmother purchased her food. These stories made me wonder.. if you knew that an apple was a challenge for a farmer to provide one year, did one think of that farmer and feel more appreciative of the apple while eating it? Did the simple act of eating an apple have a more meaning? Was it savoured more? When you receive a gift, that someone has to work unusually hard to provide, does the gift feel different, perhaps more meaningful? I wonder.
Fast forward to present time, massive grocery store time. We live in a more fast-paced, convenience-driven time. Modern life has brought us many great things, but sometimes at a cost. When I pose the question to young children in classes, “Where do apples come from?”, the most typical response is, “the grocery store!”. They are certainly correct in their response, as that is where most of us get our apples. As someone who regularly shops at large grocery stores, I find that it is very easy for me to take food for granted when obtained this way. It’s typical for me to eat an apple without any thought about who physically provided it to me. I forget that someone personally worked to create the food for me and for my family. Personally, something doesn’t feel right about this. I whole-heartedly believe in being grateful for everything that we have, and this includes food. I wonder if there are other parents who feel that the origin and meaning of food is lost in this society.
So lately I have been embracing my grandmother’s simpler, more appreciative times when it comes to food. I teach ‘Farm to Table’ as a theme to inspire physical activity in my programs. The results have been ~ DELICIOUS! I play a song with a physical activity to match the food theme, then ask families bring a related snack to eat and/or share. It can simply be the food in its raw form, or something created from it (ie: an apple, applesauce, apple chips, apple pie!). Not only can this encourage deeper thoughts about food, but it also helps build relationships and social skills by sharing and socializing. In this moment in classes, there is a real sense of community.
Suggested Songs for Farm to Table Experiences:
MIXING BOWL & MAKING PIE ~ Kira Wiley
5 GREEN APPLES ~ Sharon, Lois & Bramm
GO GO GROW ~ Bobs & Lolo