Australia is officially the 13th top-ranked country when it comes to sustainability, according to National Geographic’s Greendex. The ranking is positive but indicative that we can also do with improvement, and that means raising our kids in a way that makes sustainability part of our everyday lives. American author Richard Louv, who advocates for the importance of nature in the lives of children, makes an important point: inspiring kids to fight for a better planet begins by fostering an authentic love for it. Australians spend around 10 hours a day on Internet-connected devices. There is a clear need to bring our kids ‘into the wild’ (to a forest, park, or other green area) so they can open their senses to the marvels around them. Why not start with a sustainable picnic and prepare a delicious raw apple pie for your next outing?
STARTING WITH SHOPPING
Why not make all the food you bring to your next picnic organic and sourced within a zero-kilometre range? Ask neighbours and friend about local bread bakers, dairy and cheese farms, veggie growers, and try to source as many items from your ingredients list from these growers. Give your kids a quick run-down on why helping out local producers is important. Talk about the big carbon footprint caused by the transport of food from far distances. Also explain that locally grown food from farmers (especially organic ones) is tastier and healthier. You might want to let them know that a large-scale study (published in the British Medical Journal) found that naturally grown produce is higher in antioxidants than conventionally raised produce. Not all locally grown food is pesticide-free, so aim to support farmers that rely on natural pest repellants.
PREPARING SAVOURY FOOD
Followers of the raw food movement note that consuming produce in its natural state enables us to feel more ‘connected’ to the earth, since greater respect is paid to food than when we consume refined, processed foods that have been through various stages of manipulation before they make their way to our table. Why not prepare a delicious raw dessert for your next picnic, choosing a lovely shady spot to savour the very best nature has to offer? Remember to use glass tupperware and containers that do not need to be thrown away. While you are packing up, you might mention how long it takes to recycle plastics and talk about the effect dumped plastic is having on our oceans.
DRESSING THE PART
Since sustainability will be in your mind at this picnic, take it a step further by dressing sustainably for your picnics. Kids can learn about upcycling by using existing buttons, brooches, and threads to make cool outfits for your picnic. While you’re cutting and sewing, talk to kids about how sustainable fashion companies aid kids around the world by relying on ethically sourced material and adult labor. This is why when they are shopping for clothing, it is a good idea to go online first and check out which companies do their share for children, impoverished communities, and the environment.
EASY RAW APPLE PIE (serves 4)
This recipe is packed with the goodness of antioxidant-rich apples. It is cheap and easy to make, so ask your kids to join you in shopping for ingredients and of course, making the dessert!
Ingredients for the crust:
- 2 cups finely ground almonds
- 5 medjool dates, pitted
- ¼ cup maple syrup or honey
- A pinch of salt
Ingredients for the filling:
- 5 organically grown small apples, peeled, cored, and sliced finely
- 1 organically grown orange
- 1 more organically grown small apple, set aside
- 1 cup of medjool dates, pitted
- Juice from one lime
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
To make the crust, place all the ingredients in a blender and pat down into a 10-inch glass Pyrex or baking pan. For the filling, make a syrup with the single apple, orange (de-seed the latter first), lemon, cinnamon, and vanilla until the texture is like a syrup. Place the sliced apples in layers over the crust and pour the syrup over each layer. Refrigerate for a few hours and enjoy, or (if you’d rather enjoy this pie in a cooked rather than raw state) stick in a 180º oven for around 25 minutes.
If you love taking picnics, why not give your next one a strong sustainability focus? Prepare a lovely meal made with local produce. Try out a recipe that celebrates the beauty of organic fruit. Pop in a few statistics about plastic, child labour, and other subjects that kids can use to make their own decisions when shopping for clothing and food in the future.
Lucy Lees is a professional freelance writer with many years experience across a variety of sectors. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her.