Winter Delivery #3: Wednesday, Dec. 4th – REGS & EOs
Getting together with family over the holidays is always…. a wonderful experience. This year we did Thanksgiving down in Florida with Mike’s side of the family. We had all the traditional fare (with a fried turkey that was the most moist I’ve ever tasted!) and a fun time all being together. Sweet Zea cried the whole day on the way home, as she was so sad to be leaving all of her cousins. A good time was had by all!
Getting together with family over the holidays is always…. a powerful reminder of the local food bubble that Mike and I live in. Eating a locally produced, organic Thanksgiving meal is pretty much out the window when having a family vacation Thanksgiving in Florida. Enter Walmart, Target grocery, and lots of processed foods. It’s literally a culture (and stomach) shock for Mike and I. We grow our own veggies and pork. We trade veggies for meat, bread, eggs, yogurt and cheese with other local producers. We have the luxury of being able to buy local (or at least organic) grains, oils, nuts, and other staples from area co-ops. Our meals generally start from scratch, generally not from boxes. While we know this whole other world exists out in the mainstream, we aren’t used to being a part of it. But when you travel, sometimes it’s hard to escape. You start and end with airport food – with lots of not local in between. And I guess what’s sticking with me so much after this trip, was how shocking that mainstream felt to me. Mike and I are so enmeshed in the local, organic world here in the Madison area… we are supported by families like you that share in this ethos. It made me sad to see just how alive and well the American mainstream way of eating is.
Getting together with family over the holidays is always…. an exercise in observing and honoring the multitude of approaches parents take with their children’s food habits. In our family, I think Mike and I are seen as pretty strict about food with our kids. We are the bosses. Our girls are allowed sweet things, but very small amounts and only after healthy food has been consumed. We don’t cater to toddler eating habits. We make a meal and expect our kids to eat it. If they don’t, then they will be hungry… and then will be expected to finish it the next meal. If kale sounds bad to Zea at dinner, when given the choice to eat it for breakfast, down the hatch it goes. While this may seem overly strict to some, it works for us. Our kids eat a plethora vegetables with little complaint. They even eat fruit smoothies with kale, squash, and carrots in the morning. And don’t get me wrong… it’s not that our kids just magically like vegetables and we are lucky. It’s because we’ve worked hard, meal after meal to set rules about the importance of being grateful for the food you have and eating it. There’s never another option outside of what’s on the plate.
Our family members’ approaches to food and their kids are different. The kids seem to have the upper hand. Nobody wants a cranky kid who hasn’t eaten enough, right? As a parent, it’s difficult to know how strict to be about what your child eats. No one wants to feel they are so strict that their child is hungry. That’s no fun for anyone. Just like any part of parenting, it’s constant navigation regarding control and freedom. But somewhere in that continuum, when it comes to food, some of our nieces and nephews seemed to have gained the upper hand. They have learned that if they hold out and don’t eat what’s on their plate something sweeter, saltier, or fattier will be offered. And as this dynamic goes on, somewhere the parent begins to believe they have no control over what their children eat – and if they want them to eat, then they can’t be picky about what it is. Lucky Charms. Poptarts. Hostess cupcakes. Dinners without a single vegetable. Cereal instead of dinner, etc. And so the cycle continues. Mike and I aren’t saints – and again, I know I’m bordering self-righteous here. (Perhaps our girls will revolt against our strict eating ethos and become steadfast McDonald’s eaters.) But seeing that dynamic, made me sad. It seemed all a part of the dysfunctional American food culture… disconnected, processed, and unhealthy.
I don’t mean to be a downer. In fact, my Thanksgiving experience really did give cause for thanks. Despite all our differences, our family gets along great. We let each other be who they be. And my reflections on mainstream American eating have just helped me feel ever more grateful to have and be part of an alternative. Having all of you as members our farm is so heartening! And for this, I am extremely thankful.