Tuesday, March 17, 2009


My husband and I love food. We love growing it, cooking it, shopping for it, watching it on TV (well, watching the chefs). We travel based on what delicacies we can sample. We once drove to Quechee, Vermont just to dine at The Simon Pearce Mill. The calamari salad there has made its way into our family's culinary lore. Our children have become miniature foodies by cultural osmosis.

Our five and three year old sons accompany us to various farmer's markets, delis, gourmet grocers, and pick-your-own farms we happen upon. They join me in my multiple trips to the grocery store each week. They hear me chat about food and often gripe about the safety of our food sources. Most importantly, they see me read labels.

I talk about what our family eats. We choose our veggies based on color. In fact, last night's dinner was brought to us by the color green (green curry chicken, snap peas, kiwi slices, stir fried rice w/ peas). I explain to them why I read labels. They know it takes me forever and a day to choose ketchup because I'm looking for a brand without high fructose corn syrup (by the way, no national brand fits the bill...shame on you Heinz and Hunt's!). The boys see me reading labels and naturally ask what I'm doing. I tell them that I'm looking for foods that aren't chock full of chemicals. They already know that we eat mostly organic foods, though in this economy we've limited it to dairy, eggs, and produce. They love visiting Farmer Tom to pick up our CSA veggies. They know I'm protecting them while nourishing them.

And so my sons, ages five and three, have words like high fructose corn syrup, nitrite, MSG, trans fat, and sodium in their vernacular. We talk about how our choices affect how our food tastes, how healthy our meals are, and most importantly, the planet. Sure, we eat our share of processed packaged junk on occasion, but the kids know it's a treat. We stick to fresh foods and eat three home cooked squares a day. It's a fine plan...until my kid comments in the school cafeteria that his classmate's high School Musical Trix yogurt is "junk." Clearly I gotta work on tact, decorum, and context.

Cross posted at Foodie Mama.
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Jen L. said...

I love this post. I read it on Foodie Mama, too, and it made me happy. Seriously, if we lived in the same town, I think we'd hang out all the time. Our dinner tonight was brought to us by the color green: Chicken with a fun balsamic marinade, grilled asapragus and roasted leeks. YUM. My son's only 14 months old, but I'm already working HARD to keep the "junk" out of his system as long as possible. Fortunately, he has a sophisticated palate so far. He much prefers risotto with cheddar sauce and broccoli to boxed mac and cheese. My husband and I also plan trips around the culinary delights we can find!

The Tutugirl said...

Maybe working on the tact is a good idea, but don't encourage them to be quiet about all their food knowledge. Wouldn't it be awesome if they influenced their peers to run home and ask their mommies if they could have some of the delicious nutritious food they see Bird and Deal eating at school?

Magpie said...

I love this post too. I do many of the things you do, but I don't vocalize as much - and now I will.

And saying that High School Musical Trix yogurt is junk in the cafeteria? Brownie points!!

Anonymous said...

Amen--I think it's okay that they call "junk" food "junk." I mean, is that worse than the food companies calling chemicals "food?" Here's the the next generation of Foodies!

The Mother said...

The hardest thing about raising kids who understand is that little tact and decorum thing.

My kids get themselves into trouble all the time. We aren't very good at censoring our conversations at the dinner table (and wouldn't, anyway), so my kids are always well informed about the news, science, and, well, religion.

Dangerous. Truly dangerous.

But do we want them any other way?

Dumb Mom said...

Tact. I could use that as well since my son shared with the mom's at the mommy group who brought McDon's for lunch that since it is "crap" it is only a "sometimes food for him." Nice to know they're listening, though, right?!