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Family Dinner Field Trips

Continue the family fun by taking your gang on a food adventure. Pack your compass, a couple of canvas bags, and your wallet. It’s time for some sightseeing with a delish twist! Why not make it a once-a-month ritual to explore a new food market or ethnic restaurant? Here are some family field trip ideas.

The grocery store. If members of your family don’t go shopping with you routinely, it’s time for them to start. Everyone can and should experience the time it takes to shop for, pay for, and bring home groceries.

A local farmers’ market. The best way to purchase the freshest, in-season food and support your local farmers is also the best way to learn about fresh good — farmers love to share what they know.

The farm. Lots of small farm operations have visiting hours and “pick your own” days. From apples to pumpkins to berries to corn, it’s a great way to show your kids where dinner comes from!

Ethnic grocery stores. Stores specializing in a particular culture’s cuisine are eye-opening trips for the family. You and your kids will be amazed and inspired by all the foods and products you have never seen before. Don’t forget to ask the proprietor how to use unfamiliar ingredients — they, like farmers, want to share their passion and knowledge.

Ethnic neighborhoods like Little Italy, Little India, Japan Town, Chinatown, Koreatown. Most larger cities have such community neighborhoods, and they are chock-full of markets and restaurants, many of them family-owned. Have lunch or dinner and taste authentic ethnic food perfectly cooked according to ancient traditions.

Cooking class as a family, either at a local cooking school or in your home (some teachers come right to your kitchen). Friends and family make great teachers, too! Ask them to teach a class.

Fish market. See what fresh really looks and smells like (it doesn’t smell “fishy”)!

Restaurant supply store. Let your kids each pick out something inexpensive but exciting to use, like new measuring cups or mini spoons.

Community garden project. Take a tour, attend a plant sale or seed-saving swap, or sign up as a volunteer. See what your neighborhood gardeners are growing.

Soup kitchen, shelter, or food pantry. Volunteer as a family at a church or Salvation Army program. It’s a profoundly moving way to show your kids how they can have a real impact on other peoples’ lives and, at the same time, show them the reality too many people face on a daily basis, most with dignity and courage. One in four children are going to sleep hungry in America. Need is up and food donations are down. This field trip will work wonders building up those gratitude muscles.

Laurie David and Kirstin Uhrenholdt

Laurie David is an author and producer who works on a variety of environmental, food, and agricultural issues. Her most recent book, The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time, is an inspirational, practical, and green guide to the vital family dinner ritual and how to accomplish it in today’s busy world. Laurie was a producer on the 2006 Academy Award-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth and the HBO documentary Too Hot NOT to Handle, and executive produced the TBS comedy special Earth to America! She also authored the bestselling book Stop Global Warming: The Solution is You! and co-authored The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming. A regular blogger on the Huffington Post, Laurie has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, The Today Show, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. She was named a 2006 Glamour Woman of the Year and has been profiled in People, Glamour, Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, Vogue, Rolling Stone, Elle, Wired, House & Garden, The New York Times, and Vanity Fair. Kirstin Uhrenholdt grew up on a fruit-farm in Denmark, pickin’ n’ pruning and making pie. She then, by a stroke of good luck, ended up on a cargo ship to Greenland, doing among other things a lot of dishes, a lot — more than you can imagine. She escaped and became a beer wench in Appenzelle, Switzerland, where they speak a language no one understands. Eventually she landed in L.A. where, lo and behold, she was kidnapped by some actors, some heavy rockers, and some kosher people. Presently she is living happily ever after.

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