How Innocent's 'Big Grow' Is Changing Kids' Relationships With Food

We chatted to food writer Lilly Higgins who is currently taking part in Innocent's the 'Big Grow', encouraging primary school kids to grow their very own veggies.

Innocent has partnered with Grow it Yourself (GIY) to bring back the 'Big Grow' for the 9th time, and this year food writer Lilly Higgins has joined in the fun. She is a big believer in empowering children to grow and prepare their own food in a positive and sustainable way and says that even kids as young as four can help out in the kitchen.

So, why is this so important? Well, having the tools to grow and prepare our own meals is a whole lot more powerful than you think, and this is what the 'Big Grow' is all about.

According to GIY founder Michael Kelly, "Studies show that children who grow their own food are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables and show higher levels of knowledge about nutrition.

The children not only learn the science of growing, they also experience the joy of growing and eating their own food. GIY calls this ‘Food Empathy', which is a deeper connection with food, and is proven to lead to a healthier life long-term.”

As well as this, growing your own food has been linked to an increased awareness of seasonality, which plays a major part in sustainability. Eating homegrown food which is in season helps to decrease the air miles needed to transport your food onto your plate, and therefore reduces your carbon footprint.

This is something which is at the forefront of many parents' minds - finding ways to be more sustainable in their everyday lives - including Lilly Higgins.

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She says that growing our own food is a great way to combat climate change while also reducing the amount of climate anxiety we may feel when we think of our kids' future. The answer, she says, is empowering children.

"I think we’re all more aware of making things more sustainable.", Lilly said. "I think our kids' generation are hyper-aware of all of this but it’s good to empower them as well and let them know that they can grow their own food - that they’re not entirely dependent on other people.”

She continued, “We all know that food-growers eat more locally, more organically and seasonally and I think that’s really important. They become aware of what’s in season and eat accordingly. Even in the garden that we were in today, it was all kale and leeks. Some of the kids today were even eating kale straight from the ground - they had no problem with that!"

This is where the 'Big Grow' comes in. The innocent 'Big Grow' is open for primary schools across the country to apply for a free Grow Kit for their school. 

Schools can join in by visiting innocentbiggrow.com. This year, for the first time, the school judged to have cultivated the most impressive grows will receive €1,000 towards their school garden.

But the next step, according to Lilly, is using the food the kids have grown. Giving them the power to prepare meals using food they've grown themselves, is a fantastic way to get them excited about fruit and veg.

And, it's way easier than you think to get them involved in the kitchen. Lilly advises, "making soup is very basic thing you can do which is fail-safe. You put everything in and you blend it all up and it’s delicious. I always say to the kids, 'what can you taste from that soup?' Or, 'I used four vegetables in that soup, you have to guess what the vegetables are!' just to make it more interactive and allowing them to have fun while gaining knowledge."

To join #TheBigGrow conversation and pick up tips and advice - follow @innocent on Twitter and @innocentireland on Instagram and Facebook. Register on innocentbiggrow.com

For delicious family-friendly recipes and advice, follow Lilly on Instagram.

Will you be getting involved?

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Sophie Gavin

Sophie is the Junior Content Executive at Family Friendly HQ.

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