A Healthy Family Field Trip

By , SparkPeople Blogger
My family recently had a rare weekend free of commitments so we started looking for something in the Dallas area that would be fun for all of us. We came up with a solution that satisfied all four of us and I wanted to share this experience with you.

We agreed on a field trip of sorts to three different markets: the Dallas Farmers Market, Central Market and the Hong Kong Market. 

The Dallas Farmers Market was for me, Central Market for my wife and Hong Kong Market for our daughters.

For some, a trip to the farmers market isn’t unusual, but for me, this was truly an adventure.  I have always been a very picky eater and haven’t really eaten many fruits or veggies in my life. I am usually stopped by textures. I love most flavors, but I just can’t handle the textures of different foods. However, as I continue to free my mind and keep moving forward in my quest for a healthy life, I am working toward jumping this hurdle as well. I was very excited about this trip.

First stop was the Dallas Farmers Market. I hadn’t read too much about it online, because I wanted to be surprised.  My first impression was that it was much larger than I had suspected it would be. There were at least four barns for the vendors to set up shop in and there were people everywhere. It was great!  We made our way into the first barn. It was only about half full but only because the local farmers aren’t in season yet.  Vendor after vendor, side by side offering samples of nearly everything they sold. Uh oh, I was in trouble at this point!  I started to get a tad scared of the samples. My wife and daughters were already reaching for something. It looked like an orange. Actually, it was a tangelo and guess what? I loved it!  Amazing!  In fact, we bought a basket just because it was something that I liked.  Then I tried some pineapple. So sweet!  I loved it, too. I tried oranges, papaya and more pineapple from Costa Rica. We left the Dallas Farmers Market with three or four bags that were quite heavy with fruits and veggies.  Fresh green beans, oranges, pineapple, Brussels sprouts, jalapeno peppers, bell peppers, tangelos, garlic and more!  It was an amazing stop on our field trip and I can’t WAIT to go back. 

This photo is a glimpse of our loot from this stop.

Next stop on the Merlau Four Field Trip was the Central Market in Dallas.  This part of the day was my wife’s choice. I've asked her to give her own account of the experience:

''This is a very popular grocery store chain, but there isn’t one close to our town. It happened to be only 10 minutes from the Dallas Farmers Market though, so that made it very convenient. I have always wanted to go, and really wish I could have spent more time exploring. If you aren’t familiar with this establishment, it offers a huge variety of all produce, meat, salads, breads, deli and more, all with experts to guide you along the way. Kind of like what Lowe’s has for the home improvement folks, Central Market has for the grocery shopper. There are chefs preparing freshly made recipes that you can watch in action. The butchers will take the time to tell you everything you would ever want to know about the selections at their counter. There is a Wine expert on hand in the liquor section. The bakery, well I could talk about that for hours.  Every corner had some special surprise waiting. Really what I loved most about the time spent there was the inspiration that I had when I left. It helped encourage that desire to cook with fresh, natural ingredients to make the best for my family. It was so wonderful to see my daughters engaged in learning about the foods, too.  Whether at Central Market or the Farmers Market, they asked questions and wanted to be a part of the action. That was the best!"

Below is a snap shot of the items we picked up at Central Market for fun.

Last stop was the Hong Kong Market.  My daughters are from China and this was a special place for them to visit. Our first visit here reminded us so much of the sights and sounds we witnessed in a market in China, it was really hard to believe. I’ve asked my 12 year old to write a little bit about this experience:

''I love going to the Asian market because it’s fun and awesome. Since I’m Chinese I like to look at all the different foods they have at the Hong Kong Market. We go to the Hong Kong market because there are things there that you can’t find at the regular everyday market, but are important to my sister and me. It even smells like China or at least what I remember China to smell like.  My Mom and Dad agree.  Usually what I like getting there is the candy. For example, Hi Chew, Zots, Hi Panda, Pocky, and Jellies. I also love steamed custard buns.  My sister likes going there for the dumplings, noodles, and candy, like me. If you’re not use to different foods from around the world you may want to give it a try. Be warned that it isn’t like anything you know!''

Below is a picture of the items we purchased at the Hong Kong Market.

This field trip was a really incredible day for the entire family, no question about it. Having the entire family involved in the journey is worth it on so many levels. Knowing that our daughters are interested in healthy foods and understand that what we put in our bodies will affect how we feel and perform is an amazing feeling for my wife and me.

So there you have it, one day in the life at the Merlau Four home. All are involved in the journey and we plan for it to stay that way.

What sort of field trips have you taken with your family recently?  Were any of these field trips related to your journey to better health?

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I like Farmer's market and they are an interesting place to shop. I have been to a Chinese Farmer's market, but I do go to a Chinese grocery store to get noodles. Report
I love days like that! I try to do that with my daughter occassionally. Its a blast to add "ethnic" shopping. In most big cities there are more stores than you can imagine. I'm in Cleveland and we have stores specifically German, Hungarian, Chinese, Thai, Polish Russian, Italian, Lebanese, African, Indian the list goes on and on. It's fun to just walk in and try new stuff even if you don't know what it is! My daughters Christmas gift to my father this year (the man who needs nothing) was a set of three boxes labeled 1) "Healthy Food," 2) "Junk Food," 3) "Strange and Unusual things you should probably not be consuming." We bought everything from these type of stores and it was so fun to watch him open the last box. We found a lot of really great, healthy foods that we never would have thought of (and a few that just make you say "hmmmm." :) Report
Oh my, what an absolutely wonderful day. That's my kind of field trip. My kids are in college now, but we have spent many a time exploring markets and groceries, known and unknown. Report
So cool that the Farmer's Market is open out of season. Ours won't open for another couple of months. We have a market like Central Market, ours is called Dorthy Lane Market. It's like a trip back in time. The employees actually help you and seem to care about you. Wish we had a large Chinese market, but we have a small Korean one so I can stay stocked up on candied ginger. Thanks for the trip! Report
That sounds like an awesome day! Last summer we started going to the local farmers markets, and the kids love it. My daughter especially, she's always up for something new. It's a great way to spend some time with them and learn something too! Report
What an awesome "field trip" for your family!
There are markets like that in England and I love going to those when we visit.
I love our farmers markets here in Memphis too!
Great blog Jerome!!! Report
What a wonderful family day you had! It revolved around food, but in the most healthy way. J-man...please let your daughter know that she is a wonderful writer, and she has sparked my interest to go to our Asian Market in our downtown area! She has helped to spread the Asian spark to me! I'm so glad you opened your heart and mind to try some new foods. there's nothing like shaking things up a bit for good variety!....Thanks Report
Jerome. I miss the Dallas Farmers Markets. We don't have really good ones here. It was my Saturday morning routine. I'd hop on my Vespa with my reusable bags in tow. It was always so much fun! Report
Jerome. I miss the Dallas Farmers Markets. We don't have really good ones here. It was my Saturday morning routine. I'd hop on my Vespa with my reusable bags in tow. It was always so much fun! Report
My mom and I have started a Sunday market habit. We try to go to a different one each week. I'm glad she goes with me - it allows me to expose her to the wonderful world of produce! Report
You know...this is a great idea! You can expose (and educate) yourself and families to other food cultures and expand your own menu! I've always enjoyed the 'markets' but didn't think of it in that light..but my kids just love looking at things! Report
I am inspired! I want to get the kids away from their computer screens so next weekend we are heading to the market. Thanks for the idea! Report
This is a AWESOME idea! We have so few fresh markets in NH, especially this time of year. What a great way to give your diet a boost and your freshen up cooking. Report
Sounds like you had a great time. and a great learning experiance. Report
Great ideas ! Thanks for sharing them. Report
Great Blog. I love the farmers market as well but ours won't open for a couple of months here in the north. Thanks for sharing. Very nice to see the whole family involved in your journey. Report
This was a great post! Thank you for sharing. Makes me want to head out to our local market right now! The Tuesday morning vendors are not as numerous as the Saturday morning vendors though. Maybe I can convince my family to take a mini field trip into town this weekend for a local shopping adventure. Report
Thanks for sharing your family's trip. This was very inspiring. I have two girls of my own and look forward to trying this same adventure in our area. Thanks again for the wonderful idea. Report
My daughter and I tried pomelos this week and mejool dates. I liked both. We haven't been able to make that a family adventure but at least one of the kids is into trying new fruits and vegetables with me.

Great job with the family! Report
Hey! Loved this post. I took my son to the White House Easter Egg Roll as part of the Let's Move Initiative. I loved it. We walked over five miles altogether, and we had fun learning about healthy habits, cooking nutritiously and so much more. I love going to the Farmer's market. I can't wait for ours to open up. Come on May! Report
Hi Guy,

I just want to say, "yes" it is very exciting when you can involve your family in a healthy food shopping extravaganza. I love it when me and my daughter go, for us it's like kids being in a candy store. The beautiful colors, the taste, the knowledgeable information given, and the samples, oh the samples are wonderful. Thanks for the pics too, they were really awesome. Report
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