Ode to Farmers’ Markets (Tips for Picky Eaters)

There are so many reasons to love summer. One of which is that it’s peak season for farmers’ markets. You likely already know that farmers’ markets are your source for the freshest, local fruits, veggies, and many other foods. But did you know that they are also a fantastic opportunity to inspire picky toddlers and preschoolers to try new foods (no nagging needed)?

Why do farmers’ markets work? Here are a few reasons:

• Veggie Eating’s the Norm: We’re creatures of our environment. Want to get your child to eat veggies? Be a veggie-eating role model. What’s even better than role modeling eating veggies in your home? Spending time where everyone eats veggies – a.k.a. the farmers’ market! By surrounding your child with people who are choosing and eating vegetables, you’re teaching your child that it’s normal to eat vegetables. This is a great way to counteract all the advertising that kids are exposed to for highly processed junk foods.
• Who Doesn’t Love a Party?: A sunny weekend afternoon, a bustling crowd, colorful tents, live music, maybe even face painting – sounds like a party to me. And, it’s all to celebrate locally grown veggies and fruit. The enthusiasm is infectious. I dare your little one not to get caught up in the fun and try new foods!
• Ask the Expert: See a veggie or fruit that you don’t know? Ask the farmer how he/she likes to eat it. It’s difficult not to want to eat it as the farmer waxes poetic about it.
• The Scarcity Effect: We human beings are motivated by a deadline. When something’s in limited supply it drives us towards it. These purple beans are only available this week? I want some!
• It’s All Out in the Open: Picky eaters are often little conspiracy theorists, highly suspicious of the food that suddenly appears on the plate in front of them. In contrast, at a farmers’ market, all the food is (literally) out in the open. Not only can you see each vegetable but you’re encouraged to touch them, smell them, and meet the person who grew them. And, there’s a wide variety to compare and contrast – who knew that tomatoes came in a rainbow of colors from yellow to orange to red, even purple and green striped! I’ve seen many a mini conspiracy theorist transform into an intrepid food explorer.

Wait! Before you to head out to your local farmers’ market, I want to add another important point. The effectiveness of this strategy is related to the attitude that you bring. Yes, you! Make sure that you’re coming to the market with an explorer’s attitude. Be open to and excited about trying new veggies and fruit. Even amid the crowd at a farmers’ market, you’re still the most influential role model for your child.


Child-Feeding Expert Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD helps moms and dads support your picky kids to get good nutrition today…and instill a life-long love of healthy eating. Find out more at
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