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"Nature's Lunchbox" Promotes Healthy Eating, Enhances Lunchroom

By Anthony Todd in Food on Mar 4, 2011 7:00PM

We don't spend enough time inside the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. We go fairly often, especially during the winter, since it's the site of the Green City Winter Market, but it's rare that we bother to look at the exhibits. Which is a darn shame, because there are some pretty amazing things to see. Take in the butterflies, see the beautiful nature dioramas, marvel at the wonderful pictures of the Chicago River, and after you're done, sit down for a snack. Why? Because the lunchroom at Notebaert hosts "Nature's Lunchbox," an exhibit on healthy and sustainable eating.

Usually, museum cafeterias are a mix of uninspiring and loud that makes us want to run to the nearest coffee shop and cry until it's over. The Nature Museum doesn't have a formal restaurant, only a cafeteria-style room for visitors to sit and eat packed lunches. We spent almost 45 minutes in the lunchroom, and we didn't have a bite to eat. Colorful signs, replicas of grocery store shelves and interactive displays teach children about where food comes from, what foods are healthy and how to identify them (eat a rainbow!), and the environmental impact they can have as eaters. Best of all, if you're interested in gardening, there are exhibits designed to get your kids interested and involved in your backyard activities.

The exhibit is small enough that it's probably not worth a special trip - but if you're interested in teaching your kids to be better eaters and you haven't been to the Nature Museum in a while, go soon. Lost Panoramas, the incredible exhibition of historical photographs of the Chicago River, closes March 13. Be sure to bring your lunch.

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is located at 2430 N. Cannon Drive.