Friday, December 18, 2009

From the Mouths of Babes

Strange things are said around food in our household.

The other night I sliced up some of that oddly-marbled "Colby Jack" cheese from Tillamook. It was NOT organic, NOT pastured, and NOT made up of colors found in nature, but I'd bought it for a recipe, since I'm a somewhat slavish follower of recipes.

"Yay!" yelled my oldest. "Cheese with artificial color!" This is not what the Urban Farm Junkie likes to hear, but I suppose if you're a child looking to differentiate yourself from your good-food obsessed mother, this is the way to go.

Compare the behavior of my youngest. When faced with a (to her) distasteful helping of homemade macaroni and the-real-stuff cheese, there was only one way to get her to touch it. "Take a bite," I coaxed. "If you do, I'll give you more beets." And it worked, to her siblings' amusement. But my youngest has the greatest potential to go vegetarian on me, since she puts away produce like there's no tomorrow. Beets, tomatoes, carrots, celery, broccoli, green beans, spinach salad all meet with approval. As for fruits--well, we tend to refer to Satsumas in our house as "crack."

Several times I've run across the following sagely-meant advice: to turn your children into healthy lovers of good food, serve them only good food, from conception onward. This is utter nonsense. I ate the same diet with all three of my children (except for abstaining from broccoli in my first pregnancy because it smelled nauseating), and they've obviously been offered the same foods since birth, but they each came out completely different. Certainly I can offer my son all manner of organic, locally-grown produce, but he'll never touch a leaf of it.

Still, the good food is there. I just don't look forward to the teenage years. I picture the rebellion in their eyes as they taunt me: "Look, Mom--I'm going to eat something with more Nitrites than Nutrients, and there's nothing you can do about it!"

In case you didn't realize, these ruminations of mine are timely, since there's a war raging over which foods can be marketed to children, with the alphabet-soup government agencies on one side (presumably backed by the interests of companies which process and market the wide range of so-called food aimed at kids), against the likes of Marion Nestle.

I'm all for good food for kids, but I haven't made up my mind about this issue, being also a lover of free speech. And what about some good old-fashioned parenting? It wouldn't matter what ads for sugary cereal show up on TV if your children aren't watching TV. My children have also done their fair share of pointing at things in the grocery store and begging for them, but these are teaching moments: "Shrek has nothing to do with what's in that box. They're just trying to make you buy it" or "No way am I buying you that! That isn't food--it's some kind of chemical concoction made in a lab."

If anyone feels passionate about this, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

1 comment:

  1. When my girls were little, I also used time in the grocery store as teachable moments and taught them how to be savvy about marketing in general. Now that they are teenagers, they will see and ad and critique it carefully. As to food, I started my girls off very healthfully, and some of it stuck, but they still went for junk food as soon as they were offered a choice. My only hope was to try and give them healthy food at home and limit the exposure to junk when they were out.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.