Kids’ Stuff

Category: Video Episodes

About This Episode

“You have to eat your vegetables before you can have dessert.” Huh? How did eating tasty stuff like carrots, tomatoes and radishes become a chore to be endured, or even a penalty, before a big sugary reward at the end of a meal?

In this episode, kids themselves show us how good food is just as attractive and fun as dessert. They want to have adventures, they like stories they can put themselves into. When teachers and parents give kids opportunities to participate and learn, good food becomes fun. Curious minds are enriched, as well as growing bodies.

Food education can open lots of doors for developing minds – biology, history, literature, cultural awareness, economics – helping learning to taste good, too.

We’ll meet some people who have invented and developed ideas and programs that help kids engage with good food. And we’ll see how anyone can use these lessons in their families and communities.


The People

Diane Chapeta is a leader in the Farm to School movement in Wisconsin. From her school office in tiny Chilton, WI, she led the way by bringing local meats and produce to cafeteria lunch trays. She created a program that assisted 42 schools in joining the Farm to School process. Her belief that any sized institution can benefit from local food programs has brought her to Viroqua, WI, were she’s now the program director at Fifth Season Cooperative.


Marshall Paulsen is a chef who knows a lot about farming as well as how to make his diners happy. He could just sit pretty as head chef at the Birchwood Cafe in Minneapolis. But you can find him getting dirty with crop mobs organized by The Birchwood, in support of local farmers who provide food to the restaurant. Marshall is passing his love of healthy, local food onto his toddler, and everyone is better for it!   As the Education Director of Community GroundWorks,


Nathan Larson runs urban farming and gardening education projects for kids. He also provides local and national professional development programs for teachers, college students and community educators. He lives with his family at Troy Community Gardens in Madison, WI.


Scott Williams and April Yancer run a certified organic family farm and CSA near Mount Horeb, Wisconsin. They supply high quality herbs, vegetables and flowers to grocers, restaurants and markets in Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago.


Nate Herndon is executive chef at Promega Corporation in Madison, Wisconsin. He and his staff tend a small farm down the road from the cafeteria, where they grow much of the produce served to the hundreds of Promega employees.


The Kids


Gigi’s first foods were sweet potatoes and kale.  Having grown up in Southern Wisconsin, eating 3 seasons from a garden, visiting and volunteering at local farms often and taking a lead role in her family’s kitchen has helped Gigi develop a love for locally grown, healthy food.  Her favorite snack is raw spinach with stone ground mustard on the side.


Hanshan was born in Madison, WI 10 years ago. He feels lucky to have friends living on an organic farm.  He can eat good healthy food and play with their animals.  He hopes that everyone can have access to healthy local food.


Japhy has been living in Madison, WI for 12 years and has spent a few summers working with friends on their organic farm.  He loves good food, skateboarding and reading books.  He hopes other people can learn to enjoy the importance of organic and healthy food.


Bodhi began his life in his parent’s cafe, named after none other than himself!  Throughout his youth, Bodhi could be expected at every Saturday farmers market, riding double on a skateboard from food cart to farm stand.  By his early teens, he was prepping in some of Madison’s finest kitchens.  Bodhi now chefs in Fort Collins, CO.


Mia is 10 years old and lives in Evansville, WI. She likes that her family has a garden, loves to eat and be creative with food. She feels lucky to be able to experience eating fresh food coming from her community.

The Places

Garden To Be is a certified organic family farm and CSA near Mount Horeb, Wisconsin. Many grocers, restaurants and markets around southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois offer the greens, herbs and heirloom veggie varieties grown by Scott Williams and April Yancer at their farm. gardentobe.com


Troy Gardens in Madison, WI is a premier urban garden, farming and education center. In the 1990s it was just an oasis of undeveloped land in the city, with a few acres used by urban gardeners and the rest left for hiking and bird watching. When the city prepared to sell it for development a diverse coalition of Madisonians pushed back. After years of advocacy and political action, Troy Community Gardens came to be. It’s now a busy education center, bringing kids from the school district and community centers into nature, with its restored prairie and forested land. But the main emphasis is on food, where it comes from, how it can be grown in harmony with nature and the many ways it can be enjoyed. But this place isn’t only for children. Gardeners of all different experiences come to plant, learn and harvest. A five-acre CSA farm and 30 units of mixed-income, sustainably designed housing share the site. communitygroundworks.org


Fifth Season Cooperative is made of food producers, processors, distributors and buyers in the Driftless Region of western Wisconsin. Based in Viroqua, it brings local foods of all sorts to institutional buyers and their diners, as well as offering educational programs. The goals is to build a robust regional food sustem that supports a healthy environment, a strong economy and thriving communities. fifthseason.coop


Birchwood Cafe is a locavore favorite in Minneapolis, MN. Tasty fresh food obtained from local farmers, and a friendly, unpretentious atmosphere make the Birchwood a center of its community. Owner Tracy Singleton and head chef Marshall Paulsen source from more than 50 local producers, and organize crop mobs to help their farmers in the fields. birchwoodcafe.com


Promega Corporation in Madison, Wisconsin is a biotechnology company that not only offers fresh foods to employees in the cafeteria, but grows many of them in it’s own farm just down the road. promega.com

The Food

Tasty Guide’s Veggie Sandwich Day was a great success. The secret ingredient? FUN!


Kids flour 1


There were five kids on our field trip, ages 6 to 16. It began at an organic bakery in Madison, where they got their hands dusty learning about bread. And how they could use the magic of baking to make dough into flaky, delicious croissants.


Bakers 2


No one needed a lesson on how to chow down on them, though, after their pastries came fresh and hot out of the oven.


Bakers 3


This bakery used organic flour for everything, from hamburger buns to chocolate delicacies. Why would they? After all, it costs more, and it’s not as easy to obtain as regular old white flour from conventional sources.




Here are two good reasons to buy organic flour and to look for baked goods made with it.


Rainbow Veggie and Flower Plate


1. Go to your garden, farm market, local grocery or food cooperative
2. Pick out one vegetable for each color in the rainbow.  Choose veggies that are typically eaten raw and some edible flowers too.
3. Once home, peel, slice, chop, grate it or leave the veggies whole -whichever you prefer.
4. On a large plate, arrange the veggies and flowers in a rainbow of colors.
5. Serve it to your family with dinner.
6. Email us a photo of your lovely design and a review of how it tasted and we’ll post the first 10 on our Facebook page!


SALSA FRESCA – Mark Bittman
From the New York Times


We love this salsa and highly recommend it with chips, tacos, burgers, omelets, by the spoonful or really, with anything savory.


Makes about 2 cups.


2 large fresh ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/2 large white onion, peeled and minced
1/4 teaspoon minced raw garlic, or to taste
1 habanero or jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced, or to taste
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice or 1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper.
Combine all ingredients, taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
Let the flavors marry for 15 minutes or so before serving, but serve within a couple of hours.


Potassium Bromate

This is a chemical added to most conventionally made flour in the United States. It’s a bleaching agent, but more usefully, it speeds up flour’s “aging” process. Aging helps the molecules bind in the dough, making for a consistency that people like.


Problem is, potassium bromate has been shown to cause thyroid cancer. It’s banned for food use in China, the European Union, Canada, Brazil and elsewhere. Here, though, the FDA has asked flour producers to stop using it. Voluntarily. Oh yeah, sure. Some commercial bakeries don’t use bromated flour, but many still do. Organic flour is aged naturally, without potassium bromate.


Toxic chemicals on the grain

Insects and fungus can spoil grain seeds before planting, and the enormous piles of grain after harvesting. Many conventional farming and milling operations use pesticides and fungicides that are quite simply poisons. Some organic seed suppliers and millers use non-poisonous compounds to protect the grain, while others use no chemicals at all.


Where this really matters is with whole-grain breads and bakery goodies. The chemicals stick to the outer husk of the grain, and that gets ground into the whole grain flour.


So yeah, you’re going to pay more. But take a look at these kids and ask yourself, can you put a price on a healthy life?


For Kids, Families and Teachers


Locavore Tasting Potluck Invite a few friends over for an afterschool potluck party of prepared local foods.

1. Send your friends an invite to an afterschool tasting of fresh local foods.  Have them RSVP so you know how to prepare.

2. Decide what you’ll make and then ask each friend to bring one small dish of local, organically grown foods from the list.

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Crackers and spread
  • Juice
  • Flowers

3. Prepare your table or a picnic with the proper utensils, plates, tablecloth, glasses etc. If you can, do this the day before. 4. The day of, prepare your food in the morning before school or just before your friends arrive. 5. Be sure to notice how the different foods taste. If you tell us about your potluck party we’ll post it on the Tasty Guide Facebook page!


Five Senses Sustainable Farm Field Trip Ask your school principal or parent if you can visit a local sustainable farm for a field trip to visit and experience the farm with all five senses!

1. Find a farm here: localharvest.org

2. Be sure the farmer knows you wish to taste, smell, see, hear and feel a real, sustainable farm.

3. Email Tasty Guide with your photos, drawing and stories of what you experienced and we’ll post the first 10 on our Facebook page!

Dig Deeper

Visit the Digging Deeper Blog


Parents and caregivers play the 2nd biggest role in determining what kids eat. We know that eating healthy contributes significantly to a child’s quality of life. But knowing this doesn’t necessarily make it easier to get kids to eat well after they’ve developed habits that aren’t healthy for them.


Complicating our good intentions, the companies working to convince our children and our schools to buy their food don’t always take into account their health or the health of the environment. It takes strategy and commitment to make food an all around nurturing experience for our kids, as early in life as possible. It’s of course easiest if we start before they’re born, but no matter their age it’s never too late to turn our kids on to great tasting, healthy food.


As you probably know, it’s hard to get kids to want something just because it’s healthy. Good food must be something they find joy in. Allowing them to choose and prepare their food is key to helping them develop a palate for healthy food. And there’s a whole lot of stuff they can learn in the process.


Like the rest of us, kids insist on having a say in what they eat and how they eat it. Take them to farms and markets, let them choose from the garden or off a farm stand. Experiencing first hand the importance of their choice is critical. It can be fun, too.


Of course, offering only healthy choices at home can be a real challenge, but it’s so worthwhile! Yep – “what’s on the table is what’s for dinner” can and does work.


Here are three different approaches for three different phases of life.


Before your child is born:


Our children actually begin developing their eating habits in the womb. They consume what their mothers eat and drink. This not only affects the developing babies’ health, but how they eat as adults: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/02/opinion/bad-eating-habits-start-in-the-womb.html


We can help our children develop healthy eating habits while we’re pregnant by eating healthy ourselves. Fighting off those cravings, keeping the sugar and processed foods out of the house and sticking to sustainably grown foods high in vegetable fiber, will make healthy eating much easier for our children. This is also a good time to make a food plan for after the child is born.


Tasty Guide’s host, Amelia: “My daughter’s first solid food was a mixture of breast milk, steamed and blended spinach, kale and sweet potato. I would steam and blend a few days in advance and freeze the veggies in baby food jars and mix with fresh breast milk before feeding her. Her first “dessert” food was steamed beets. It’s no coincidence that as a young child, my daughter had a preference for savory, bitter and sour foods. She was already developing a palate that made eating different foods from others’ kitchens an easy and pleasurable experience for us all! For those times when we can’t make the food ourselves, there are services that will prepare whole and healthy baby food. Food coops carry them in their freezers and there are plenty of books offering ideas for different recipes and processes to try.”




A toddler who has already developed a junk food jones is a force to be reckoned with! But it’s important to remember that they are easily entertained and they won’t starve. Healthy food is often colorful and has interesting textures. Start with their snacks and offer colorful veggies and fruits only. Throw crunchy rice cakes and other whole grain snacks into the mix. If they are drinking fruit juice, replace that with water and add a fun and tasty garnish of fresh fruit. Make sure you are eating with them, because if they’re given a carrot while you’re eating a scone, that isn’t going to fly.


Slowly incorporate the veggies, fruits and whole grains such as rice, oats and quinoa into their meals. Enjoy the food with them instead of just watching them or making a big deal about what they’re eating. Invite friends over whose children enjoy the same food. You might find yourself having to coach them on sharing it! Most of all, hang in there. The first two weeks might be an exercise in patience but you will be thankful you did it.


Older children:


The 7 biggest tips in helping teenagers transition to eating healthier food are:


1.) Do not stock junk and heavily processed foods in your home. If you want sweets, insist upon homemade. They taste better, they disappear fast and the labor involved will keep them in check.


2.) Explore whole food education with the whole family and learn what different foods do to the body.


3.) Have your teenager be responsible for choosing, purchasing and preparing a breakfast, a lunch and a dinner for the whole family every week. Let them invite friends over to help if they wish and since whole fruits, veggies and grains are the foods most often missing in teenage diets, challenge them to make these the central food groups in their recipes and without much sugar.


4.) Eat healthy meals together at the table and “what’s on the table is what’s for dinner and the kitchen is closed.”


5.) Volunteer at some local farms and restaurant kitchens run by creative cooks who love what they do and source sustainably grown food.


6.) Help then to them start a cooking club with their friends and keep your home open for such a gathering.


7.) When you dine out, look for places that source local foods.


8.) Teenagers are going to eat out and they will exercise their own free will when they do. They best thing you can do is insist that 5 out of 7 days involve meals eaten at home, let their friends join and have them take a packed lunch to school. The rest is luck!