Real food

The radish seeds I planted ten days ago have popped out of the soil in little pairs of round leaves. My reading tells me I may have been too generous with my seeds, scattering them in shallow furrows rather than spacing them apart. I expect to thin the seedlings in a day or two so they aren’t too crowded. The next few days promise to be sunny, so I hope to see a few more of my tiny crops pop up in their raised bed, too.

I’ve been on a steady reading diet of books about food. At long last, I read Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and I’m tearing through Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, by Michael Moss. I have a stack of gardening books from library, and my first issue of Urban Farm magazine arrived yesterday. My brain is swimming with conversations about what we eat and where it comes from.

All of this reading has crystallized my dissatisfaction with some of the food we eat (don’t get me started on the candy pushed at my preschooler at every turn). To be fair, our kitchen probably contains less processed food than in most houses on the block, and I’ve always been a proponent of moderation. I buy chips, but usually only if they go with a meal I’ve planned, not as an everyday snack. I don’t buy soda, water bottles, juice boxes, or any single-serve beverages unless we’re having a party (not counting the ginger beer and tonic water we keep on hand for cocktails). We rarely buy single-serve snack packages. Recently we bought a case of Pirate’s Booty at Costco for the kids to take for snack at school, but it’s just too easy for them to grab it as a default snack whenever they have the munchies.

The trouble is, some things are hard to moderate. For example, I haven’t been too picky lately about what kind of breakfast cereal I buy. My personal line in the sand stops at Red Dye Number Whatever, marshmallows, and chocolate. I like convenience as much as the next harried parent, but I’ve gotten more concerned lately as Little Five clearly prefers Golden Grahams and Cinnamon Toast Crunch over plain Cheerios, and regularly asks for (and is refused) them for lunch and after school snack. He craves sugar like nobody’s business, and wants dessert after every single meal. He doesn’t get it, but that hasn’t affected his demands. Honestly, I’m tired of the daily argument. Miss Seven, like her father, isn’t a big fan of cold cereal, but she will condescend to eat the sweetest ones. Anyway, I’m fully aware of the contradiction that while I’m busy packing their waste-free lunches, my kids are eating junky cereal for breakfast.

We had a long dinner conversation about better breakfast choices we could be making. Mr. Ten asked if there are different cereals we could buy that are healthier. This morning he learned to make his own oatmeal in the microwave and he confronted us with the ingredient label on the Trader Joe’s Cocoa Almond Spread that Miss Seven was spreading on her whole wheat mini bagel, so we had a little conversation about portion size.

Speaking of breakfast, we’ve embraced smoothies in our daily breakfast routine. It’s a good first step, but I’d like to work on finding other quick and healthy breakfast foods, since none of us finds a smoothie alone a satisfying meal. Some of us like oatmeal and other hot cereals with fruit, and some like eggs, but it seems everyone wants variety. Yesterday I baked a batch of healthy muffins (multigrain applesauce muffins, with just a splash of olive oil and honey), so that’s a good start, too. It might be as simple as refusing to buy cereal and forcing myself to bake and stock healthier choices that still taste good. I’m not putting my family on any kind of extreme diet, but we can continue our journey toward more whole foods, locally produced, prepared at home. And it’s just two more weeks until the farmer’s market opens!


One response

  1. I am passionate about this topic! So important in our lives for so many reasons (mainly health, I suppose) yet it gets so little press outside of those of us who like to cook and care about what goes into our families’ bodies. Thanks for posting, love to see more on the topic. p.s. hubs and I have oatmeal in the microwave every day – we go through a 10 lb box from Costco like once a month. Adding hemp seeds and flax adds a nice protein boost too. I’ve even figured a way for him to take this to work without precooking.

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