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This week’s letter is a bit tardy because we were on a family trip to Michigan this week. We are lucky to have a family vacation home in Western Michigan and our family loves being up there. The kids enjoy fierce games of monopoly, swinging each other violently in the hammock, and burying each other in the sand at the beach. I enjoy that there is no TV or internet – it’s nice to be “unplugged” once in a while. One of my favorite things to do up there is go to the local farmer’s markets and produce stands. My kids enjoy accompanying me to the markets and asking the farmers for samples. They get to sample things we might not have tried before – they love red currents, Asian pears, and ground cherries now. This time of year the markets are especially wonderful – lots of tomatoes, squash, lettuce, beans, peaches, and corn. It seems easier to get kids to like vegetables and fruit when they help pick it out and it is freshly picked that morning. The last time we went together a farmer invited the boys to eat his sweet corn raw. They were amazed that it tasted “just like candy”.

My husband is a huge fan of blueberries. We have bought an unbelievable 180 pounds of them this summer. Some we give away, some we eat fresh, most we freeze. I had to buy a separate freezer to store my family’s blueberry addiction. We eat them throughout the year, sprinkled on cereal, in oatmeal, and in pancakes. It’s great having little bits of summer sweet berries to eat through the year.

I encourage everyone to find a farmer’s market locally and frequent it with your children. It is a wonderful and enjoyable way to connect children to eating summer’s fresh produce. Enjoy this last month of summer!

Kathy Shepherd