Playing with Food

playing with food
Find out why it’s important for children to connect with food while they’re young. Playing with food is actually healthy for them.

My baby turned 8 months old this weekend. He’s started eating baby food and LOVES to try whatever we are eating. He’s started to smack his hands on the high-chair tray in excitement and demand.

It’s been rather curious to watch him explore these new textures and tastes.

This article by Chef Barton Seaver caught my attention because it talks about The Future of Food, a project National Geographic just launched, and including our children in the conversation.

Teaching Kids to Explore With a Forka>

by Barton Seaver
Dinner is a celebratory and full contact relationship with the natural world.

I was raised in a family in Washington, D.C., that had dinner together nearly every night of the year. There was rarely a better meal to be found anywhere.

My parents were good cooks, and intrepid ones at that. My mom would prepare the slow-cooked dishes like grape leaves, stews, curries, and the three-month-long-process fruitcake that left the kitchen smelling as boozy as a Eugene O’Neill character. My father was the short order cook of the family. He would take off his tie, don one of the aprons that hung behind the kitchen door and prepare in a half hour meals that were diverse, healthy, fun, and that fit our budget. He was famous for his tacos made from scratch—the hinged iron mold gently pressing the moistened masa harina dough to form the tortillas. Imagine a little boy rapturously awed by a discovery so new, but which also represented generations of history and culture for the newly American families who lived all around us.

Exploring the Planet with Food

Sure, all of us children played together in the streets, we shared classrooms and had sleepovers. But where this community really integrated was in the grocery store. The diversity of culinary cultures sprouted an array of bodegas to meet their needs. There on offer was an eclectic mix of ingredients each bringing a taste of home. Long before goat meat, star fruit, or berbere spices became a part of culinary fabric of fine restaurants, they formed the foundation of meals eaten by families in communities just like mine all over this country. They offered an opportunity for me to participate in their heritage. To this day I continue to use food to explore our planet with a fork. I use food to meet new people, create relationships, and find common ground with strangers.

We taste the bounty of lands near and far and in our globalized world. We are connected to our distant neighbors through food. Dinner is a universal language and is just as important as any other dialect. As National Geographic explores the Future of Food this year, it is important to engage children in this dialog. Their fluency with food provides them a basis for their relationship with this planet and its growing population.

Preparing meals together just as I did with my parents is one of the best ways we have to teach this fluency. Through food we can help children create an enduring relationship with the places and ingredients that connect all of us on this beautiful planet.

Chef Barton Seaver is a National Geographic Fellow and the author of National Geographic Kids Cookbook and Foods For Health.

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Kathy Dalton
Go Adventure Mom’s found, Kathy Dalton, launched Go Adventure Mom in 2012 in an effort to bring women together that love travel and the outdoors. As a former ski instructor, Kathy has taken her love for outdoor recreation and through the power of social media has created a platform to share her passion with the world. As a mom of three, Kathy loves to share her family adventures in Utah, cross-country skiing up Millcreek Canyon, skiing in the Wasatch Mountains, camping in Grand Teton National Park and camping in the Uintas. Kathy has been featured in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Parents and Parenting magazine. Kathy is a regular contributor to Visit Salt Lake and is a tip contributor on TripAdvisor.
Kathy Dalton
Kathy Dalton

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