We usually think about taking our whole body on vacation, but why not just take one body part: Your taste buds! Calgary and surrounding areas offer an abundance of opportunities to try new and unique meals, visit farms to learn about how food is grown, taste freshly picked produce from farmers' markets and take a step back into the past to learn about how our ancestors prepared food before the advent of electricity. It only takes a few hours in a day to expand your knowledge and palate. You can find gardens, festivals, historical sites and classes within the city and most farms and farmers’markets are a close drive. Not only is a food-cation easy to fit in time wise, they are a bit easier on the wallet.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Visit local farms and farmers’markets. Many local farms offer guided tours that are both fun and educational. Children can visit and interact with livestock, learn how produce is grown and sometimes pick fresh produce to take home. And if that isn’t enough, many farms have corn mazes and hay rides too. For a list of farms, visit albertafarmfresh.com.
U-Pick farms. The best tasting produce is the stuff you pick yourself! Why not take the kids to a local U-Pick farm to fill up a bucket of fresh strawberries or Saskatoon berries? Help your kids make the connection between the environment and food. You can use this opportunity to talk about how the weather and environmental issues affect the food we eat. For a list of U-Pick farms in Alberta, visit pickyourown.org.
Historical sites. How did people live and eat 100 years ago? Well, there are some local historical sites in and around Calgary: Bar U Ranch National Historic Site, Stephansson House Provincial Historic Site, Heritage Park Historical Village and Fort Calgary that explain just that. It’s hard to imagine how anyone lived without electricity. Why not give the kids a chance to see and practice some of the techniques used that depended on the power of elbow grease?
Grow your own food. Teach your children about a plant’s growing cycle in your own back yard! Growing your own food in a garden or container is an excellent way to involve children in the entire growing process. Visit your local garden centre to get set up with all the correct equipment and try growing something you might not normally eat. Or to get more involved in your local community and teach your kids about sustainability and how to grow their own food, find a community garden near you by visiting the Community Gardens Resource Network website at calhort.org. Another fabulous option is to join Kids Grow, offering free children’s gardening programs throughout the summer.
Food events. Calgary comes alive in the summer with a host of events and festivals that almost always have food! From the 4th Street Lilac Festival to the Calgary Folk Musical Festival and food-based events like Taste of Calgary, Taste of Okotoks and the Priddis & Millarville Fair, the city and surrounding areas are full of amazing and delicious foods to sample.
Cooking classes or camps. Research shows that children who learn how to prepare food, in combination with learning the importance of a healthy diet, eat more fruits and vegetables and make healthier food choices. To research and choose a culinary camp or program best suited to your child, visit calgaryschild.com/resources/summer-camp-program-guide-2015.
Sharon is the CEO and president of Poppy Innovations, offering edible education programs in cooking and gardening to teach Albertans healthy eating habits for life.
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