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Getting kids to eat green

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Kids love food, but it's not always the tasty treats that are good for them or the earth. Fatty, sugary, salty and processed foods generally have more of an environmental impact than eats of the fresh, locally produced variety. It is therefore important to teach them what is healthy to eat, and how and where their food comes from. This will help them to understand the impact of the food they eat, on the planet and their future health, so that they can make more informed decisions in their future lives.

There are many simple ways to teach kids about food, and plenty of means of getting those hungry mouths munching and crunching what is best for them and the planet.

Cut down on meat

Part of being a green kid is eating your fruits and vegetables. This is important, not only so that they grow up big and strong, but also because of the adverse impacts that the meat industry has on our world and its ecosystems. Your children will eventually decide whether or not they will eat meat for the rest of their lives, when they are old enough, but for now, it's up to parents and mentors to moderate the amount of meat their kids eat, all the while teaching them the consequences of a meat rich diet. These include:

  • The effects of greenhouse gases from cattle farming, such as cows belching methane, on global warming. These gases increase the global warming potential of the atmosphere and the risk of accelerated climate change.
  • The ethical considerations with regard to how animals are treated, what they are fed, and the indirect impacts of the waste that is produced and all the hormones and antibiotics it contains (everything that ultimately ends up back in the soil and water systems, impacting the development of these ecosystems).
  • There are also possible indirect health effects of these additives, such as premature puberty development in humans (although more conclusive research may be needed on this topic), as well a built up resistance to antibiotics. These additives also have a chance of being transferred, via our waste, into our waste systems and therefore back into the environment.

In essence, a plant-rich diet is better for the environment and best for your kid's health. The best diet would be with as little meat as possible, however, if your family chooses to include meat in their diet, make sure it's in moderation. Try introducing concepts like 'Meat-free Mondays', where meat is replaced once a week (or more) with a tasty vegetarian meal.

Top tip: When you do feed them meat and milk, try to support certified organic varieties. Studies show that these are two food items that should be bought certified organic where possible, for environmental and human health reasons, and are justified in carrying a higher price tag.

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