Food Culture

Crunch! Healthy Food Books for Healthy Kids

Posted on March 11, 2007. Filed under: Children's Literature, Food Culture, Homeschooling, Web Resources |

So we’re subscribing to a farm this year–it’s a cool idea. We pay a local farmer about $600 for the season and in exchange we get six months of just-picked local organic vegetables–everything from spring radishes to fall squash and lots of yummy stuff in between. Weekly pickups right in town. Since the quantities may occasionally be, well, more than we can eat in a week (four heads of cabbage?), I’ve been obsessing over cookbooks lately–figuring out how we’re going to cook and store such bounty.

My favorite evening last week involved me sitting up in bed reading to my three-year-old about spinach, turnips, and broccoli from Diana Shaw’s Almost Vegetarian. While I think Shaw’s cheerful and inventive cookbook is perfect family reading for short spells–I started to wonder about kids’ books that focus on healthy food culture.

And I realized I already had at least one on hand, Treasure Hunt with the Munch Crunch Bunch by Jan Wolterman, Melinda Hemmelgarn, and J.W. Wolterman. A friend had dropped it off to see what we thought of it and we’d had such fun cutting out the cards–great goofy illustrations of fruits and vegetables with “Foodles” (food riddles) on the back of each one, I’d forgotten it was actually a book. The story’s cute, but it’s the cards that have had all the attention at our house. They’re just the right size for my daughter to carry around, put in any one of her several purses, or sort out and discuss at length. They even have their own carrying case. She recognized a lot of her favorites immediately (“That’s a carrot with a hat!”) and it’s made her curious about some more exotic plants as well (“What’s bok choy?”).

Likewise Lynne Cherry’s How Groundhog’s Garden Grew gave us a fun break from grocery shopping when we sat down to read it at the local health food store. While the text waxes a bit didactic for my taste–groundhog gets chastened into learning to garden, the illustrations are soooooo gorgeous we both wanted to lick the pages. And it’s such a full visual experience. Even the margins are stuffed with tantalizing herbs and spices or small pictures outlining the steps to longer processes. Since it spans the whole growing season, from early spring to the great Thanksgiving feast, its seasonal appeal is a long one. And trying to identify all the lush fruits and vegetables made for a great seek-and-find game.

I am, in fact, off to grab a snack of some of freshly shelled peas…

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