Little Sprouts is an seasonal program that takes place across Beefsteak locations, designed to prove to children that veggies are both delicious and fun. The complimentary event on Saturday, September 22 will feature kid-friendly entertainment with coloring books, raffles and a plant potting activity with ThinkFoodGroup’s Chief of Produce Bennett Haynes. Beefsteak will offer small bites to sample from the menu, and children 10 & under will receive a free JV Bowl with purchase of any full-size bowl, salad or burger (this same deal applies every Wednesday at Beefsteak as part of their “Kids Eat Free” promotion).
We had the opportunity to pick the brain of ThinkFoodGroup’s Chief of Produce, Bennett Haynes’ a bit and asked him for a few tips when it comes to Bambinos + healthy eating–
BB: What are some ways to get children interested and knowledgeable about farm-to-table?
BH: Start with the vegetables your kids like to eat and do a little research. How does this vegetable grow? What is its season here in DC? Teach your kids a little of what you learned and maybe you’ll find it’s something you can grow in your home garden or a planter on the front steps. I loved sweet corn growing up and remember growing my first row of plants, it helped me appreciate it in a whole new way. Otherwise, get out to a U-Pick farm this fall – Butler’s Orchard has a great list of fall crops to harvest yourself.
BB: What vegetables can we secretly add to our children’s meals without them knowing it’s been mixed in?
BH: Peas! Boil them with some salt and then add a little butter or olive oil and smash with a potato masher or something similar. Smashed shelling peas are a great addition to mac and cheese or spread inside a turkey sandwich.
BB: What are some out of the box ways to introduce new vegetables to picky children?
BH: Transform the ingredients. Blend up broccoli or cauliflower with vegetable stock into a soup, or mince up pieces for homemade pizza toppings.
BB: Is it important for parents to continue to put dreaded vegetables on our children’s plates night after night and watch them get throw away or can we throw in the towel and wait a few years?
BH: I didn’t think much of vegetables until middle school. But, I do know kids who grew up coming to my farm for CSA pick ups and they now understand more about produce than I could have dreamed. I think exposure to where and how your food is grown at an early age could help!
BB: Organic, non-GMO, local, natural…..what advice do you give parents when they are in the produce section?
BH: Before going to the produce section, stop by your local farmers market. Even if you don’t do a ton of shopping there, the market will give you a sense of what is in season, locally. Wherever you shop, let the season guide the produce you use. I prefer to use organic produce but the best way to know your food is to know your farmer.