Healthy food ideas for family holidays

It was a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, to paraphrase Winston Churchill.

Was it animal, vegetable or mineral?

For breakfast or dinner?

And could it actually be called food?

"It's a slice of peanut butter and jelly pizza!" Taj answered, as we looked on perplexed.

Sure, we'd eaten a lot of crap food in the United States. But THIS was stomach turning.

We tend to break the rules for kids on holidays, which can become a contest to see who can shovel the most sugar down their throats.  This goes some way towards explaining the growth in paddock-to-plate, as parents try to break the cycle of sugar rush-and-crash.

Here are some healthy ideas for autumn:

*The Farm, Byron Bay. This place opened in March, with the aim to "grow, feed and educate". One of my favourite restaurants, Three Blue Ducks, is on site. Its menu lists the number of kilometres  from where the produce was grown. On a children's Farm to Fork Holiday, kids from   five to  11 can plant a crop, or learn to make yoghurt cheese.


*Food and Farm Fest.  Mardella Farm, southeast of Perth, is having a family fun day on May 18, focusing on healthy food and its production. Hayrides, face-painting, market stalls, what more could a kid want? That's right – bull whispering. Although I think the only thing I'd be capable of whispering is, "Please, don't trample us!"

*The Hahndorf Farm Barn. Naomi and Nick Duncan are passionate about exposing city kids to farm life. (I'll never forget my kids, aged five and six, squealing with delight at their first sight of a, "Cow, look Mummy, lots of cows!" Problem was, they were sheep.) Just outside Adelaide, this is a unique blend of children's farmyard and wildlife park, where kids can milk a cow, give a bottle to a lamb, or hand-feed camels. 

*The Tops Organic Retreat. I love this place, three hours' drive north of Sydney. Mum or dad can relax in their luxurious cabin, have a hit of tennis, or take a dip in the pool, while the kids feed the chooks, ducks, goats, pigs, cows, horses, alpacas and rabbits. Phew! Or, talk a walk along the 30 kilometres of beautiful bush trails, to spot wallabies, koalas and platypus.

*Cairns ECOfiesta. On the last day in May, this is billed as a "festival of fun, friendship and eco-inspiration". I'm feeling healthier already. There's plenty of stuff for kids, including a walk-in maze, circus skills, and skate demos.

Moving into winter, Port Macquarie hosts a Farm Gate Tour on the June long weekend. 

Families self-drive to 12 properties, meet the farmer, and talk about free-range food production.

Highlights include Barbuschco, which exports award-winning bush-food, Oxhill Organics, with its chicken caravans, and Ewetopia, a sheep, dairy and cheese-making enterprise.

Worth it for the names alone, I reckon.

Call me an old hippy, but if I had to choose between a place that serves a peanut butter and jelly pizza, and any of the above, I know where I'd be taking my family.

And that's no mystery.