This morning we headed to out to Giant Eagle for a behind-the-scenes grocery store tour.  It was great fun, and OF COURSE the kids enjoyed it–I mean, food was involved, right!?!?
The Eagle’s Nest director, Linda, was our tour guide, and the first thing she did was give each of my kids their grocer hats to wear for the tour.  She talked to us about the “My Plate” nutrition guide, and she continued to use the My Plate diagram as reinforcement for healthy eating as we visited each part of the store.
Here is a summary of what we did:
* The first thing we did was visit “Mr. Mike” in the produce department. He took my enthusiastic children back into the large storage coolers/kitchens.  While there, we watched him core a pineapple using a special tool…and of course, we got to eat the (entire!) pineapple once it was ready!  YUM.
* From there, we walked through ALL the fruit and veggie coolers, then took the freight elevator (bit hit with Joshua) UPstairs to the top floor of the grocery store, where we went through more coolers and also dry storage. Very neat to see how it’s all organized.
* There happened to be a large truck delivering boxes and boxes of food while we were in the back of the store, so that was neat for the kids to see since we’ve talked about how trucks deliver food from far away places to our local stores.
* Of course, we stopped at the bakery to talk about healthy grains before (ironically) they gave each of my kids a giant sugar cookie.  =P
* We then visited “Mr. Fred” in the cheese department–this was the highlight of my visit! =]  He talked to the kids about many different kinds of cheeses, what animals give us milk to make cheese, how it’s made, showed them a giant ($1600) round of Parmigiano Reggiano , and gave us A TON of super delicious cheese samples. 
I mean one.after.another.  It was so much fun. 
 Mr. Fred loves his job, and I appreciated his love of cheese 🙂 
And my kids sort of surprised me.  They are all pretty good eaters, but they just TORE UP every kind of cheese offered to them, even the most pungent sheep’s milk feta, and the spicy chipotle Gouda.  And I couldn’t help but notice that both my boys threw their leftover cookies in the trashcan at the cheese counter.  🙂 
I think we stayed at the cheese department for 1/2 hour, just eating all that delicious cheese.  AND I ended up buying $40 worth of specialty cheeses today (darn those samples!).
* Ok, I SO wish I had a picture of this next bit…I left my camera in my husband’s car, so the only in-store pics I have are the ones Ms. Linda took–and printed on-sight–for us to take home.
Anyway, we visited the infamous fresh lobster tank
A kind fellow came over and pulled a lobster out for us (while Joshua hid behind the stroller), and we got to see him up close and …pet him (?).  Then the guy who pulled him out did the cutest thing–he told my kids he had taught the lobster to do one very special trick, and asked if they wanted to see it.  Of course they did!  He leaned over and said, “Mr. Lobster, could ya please hold this stick for me?” (The stick was some sort of meat skewer).  He handed it to the lobster, and sure enough, Mr. Lobster grabbed it and held on tight.  The kids were thoroughly entertained. 😀
* We said goodbye to the lobsters, and next, the dietitian-on-staff, Samantha, took us BACK upstairs, but this time, to her “classroom” where we sat down and heard a kindergarten-level lesson on healthy eating before we made our own yogurt parfaits!  This was my kids’ favorite snack.  We used plain Greek yogurt, bananas, fresh raspberries, blackberries, and granola.  It was totally hands-on, and all 3 kids pigged out and made a big mess, but it was awesome.
* Finally, we ended out tour at the Eagle’s Nest with balloons and TWO goodie bags each.  Lots of fun free things for all of us!
We had a great morning at our local Giant Eagle, and I am sure my kids will be talking about this trip for a long time.
Grocery stores will do tours for preschool or elementary aged classrooms, but don’t ever assume that you can’t set the same kind of thing up with your own kids, whether you home school, or are simply a stay-home-mom of little ones.  It was really great going on a personalized tour where we would take our time at each station, and it always seems like folks are willing to give you some extra freebies when you are in a smaller group (ex: being able to eat the entire pineapple, and getting to ride the freight elevator, which they don’t normally do with school groups).
We learned a lot and ate a lot, and of course, I loved that once again, it was all FREE.
Stay tuned for our other “My Community” tours. 
Goodie bag loot, including: lots of stickers, juice box, tuna pack, measuring spoon, pencil with fruit topper, coloring books, fancy shmancy shampoos and lotion samples, store coupons, etc…  x4!! 
Happy little grocer showing his hat to daddy at dinnertime.