Teaching Our Children Where Their Food Comes From.

When I grew up my grandparents, aunts and uncles lived on a dairy farm not far (5 hour drive) from where we grew up. As a result we would spend stretches of our summer holidays, and Christmas at ‘The Farm’ visiting with family and assuming some measure of chores. There was never any question of where fruits and vegetables came from, how and when to harvest them or how to prepare them. Similarly we would help to prepare chickens after they were killed, we knew that pork came from the pigs, and milk and beef from the cows in the barn.

An exchange I had with a friend recently reminded me that not everyone had this exposure as a child. My friend asked me where peanut trees grew. Weird.

That was when I decided that despite living in a reasonably large city, and in an apartment we had to make sure our little one knew where his food came from, how to grow his own and how much better fresh is vs shipped.

To kick this off we’ve done the following this year (remember, our son isn’t quite 2 yet):
1. Regularly visit a local hobby farm. While butchering the animals isn’t part of the program, he gets to see and interact directly with a large number of animals, many species of which might find their way to a table one day. We explain to him that you eat cow, pig, goat etc and when we do eat meat, we link it back to the animal so he can build the association.
2. Plant vegetables on our balcony. We’ve got a few different types of vegetables on our balconies, though this year’s weather is not cooperating nearly as well as last. We’ve got carrots as an example of a root vegetable that grows in the ground, lettuce so we can harvest and bring it to the table often. We’ve got tomatillos, peppers and gooseberries as examples of fruits and vegetables that grow above ground. Finally we’re trying cantaloupe (yes, I know its a long shot). While the plants are off to a slow and late start I’m hopefull that this will work.
3. We’re planning trips to local vegetable farms, either pick-your-own or farms associated with farmers markets so he can see the scale and variety available.

I’m sure it will be a while before he really appreciates what he’s seeing… but maybe that’s the point. I would consider it a win if he grows up unsurprised when he sees plants growing across acres of field, or is surprised by a question from a friend who clearly lacks awareness of where their food comes from.

I’m Embarrassed To Say I Don’t Wash My Mushrooms

“An Unwashed Vegetable Can Become A Deadly Weapon”

Don’t need to tell me… I’ve eaten eggplant.

I don’t know why, and I don’t know when I stopped, but these days when I prepare mushrooms I just throw away the stems and peel the skin off the cap.

I suppose I should step things up given the recent issues with listeria in Canada and the dodgy milk situation in China.

Hey kids. Wash your veggies.

Click the image for a massive version.
I don't wash my mushrooms. There I said it. I don't wash them.

via LikeCool.com

Be Careful What You Eat While Traveling

Why? Because according to this article from Boing Boing if you do you’ll die.

Apparently in China they’ve identified 1,253 babies who’ve gotten sick drinking powdered milk that had been mixed with a chemical called melamine. Worse, apparently it was intentional.

If you’re in Naples you’ll need to beware of wood oven baked bread prepared using treated wood that releases carcinogens into your buns. Get this, some of the wood was taken from coffins they’d exhumed. Geez. Lumber must be crazy expensive in Italy.

Listeria in sliced meats was bad… but man, these stories take the cake. When your kid asks for McDonalds maybe you should give in… while the ingredients are fake, at least you know they’re under constant scrutiny :)

CBC Offers 10 Ways To Get Your Kids Eating Healthy

Nothing like a top 10 list to ease the pressure of posting, particularly when its referencing content posted elsewhere :)

In this case elsewhere is CBC.ca and the content is a number of recommendations to get your children to choose healthy foods rather than junk.

A few examples (paraphrased from the article):

  • The obvious – avoid fast-food and don’t keep junk food easily accessible around the home.
  • Serve reasonable portions so your kids aren’t tempted to eat themselves unhealthy.
  • Where possible, include vegetables in the foods served.
  • Don’t use junk food as a reward… and if you are going to serve it, serve it early in the day so they can burn it off before bedtime.
  • If your kids won’t eat what’s offered, send them to bed hungry. They’ll learn.

Strangely I didn’t get ten suggestions out of this one, but perhaps there are a few that I missed. Have a look for yourself.

Getting Your Kids To Eat Right

How to make your kids eat healthy? Teach them where the food comes from.

I don’t need to go into the fact that kids these days don’t exercise enough, are overweight, spend too much time in front of the computer etc… we all know it, and in many cases we should be looking at ourselves in the same lens.

The difficult question becomes, with the advertising and pressure from others how do you convince your children to make healthy eating choices?

Popular Baby Products recently had a post on the topic and suggested 5 rules to live by. They are (paraphrased and with my commentary added):

Let your children shop with you, and let them understand the benefits of eating healthy.

  • Create a grocery list that only includes healthy options.
    There’s no easier way to stray from your original intent than to not have a map to follow. This is particularly true when the kids start pestering you for candies and chips. You need someone on your side, and that list can be your someone.
  • Don’t bend from this list once you’re at the store.
    You went through the trouble of creating a healthy shopping list. Don’t let the effort go to waste. Stay strong, and don’t let the children (or effective marketing) get to you.
  • Avoid fruit juice when feeding your kids.
    When I was a kid I drank about a gallon of orange juice a day. Strangely I didn’t get a cavity until I was 33… HOWEVER there is always an exception to the rule and let it be known that I was always outside running / biking / playing sports so I’m sure I burned off those calories and more. Don’t give them juice.
  • When you prepare meals for your children, include healthy snacks.
    When they’re hungry they’ll eat it… especially if there are no other options available and you’re not around to pester. Throw the carrot sticks in… I mean, what’s the worst that can happen? They thrown them out a couple times?
  • Set a good example yourself.
    This goes without saying, but is an easy one to break down on. If your kid finds out liquor is high sugar you could be in trouble. Call it fire water.

When children understand where their food comes from they're more likely to appreciate it.

Holy Crap I Fell Off The Internet

Felt Pitas: teach your children about ethnic food the safe, easy, washable way.

But I’m back now and for the most part unaffected.

BabyGadget interesting items while I was gone. Since I’m planning to come back online slowly, and with little original thought I’ll just list some of them for you here :)

Qubies ice cube containers for your kid’s food. Easy to dispense means good times for you.
Toast brander? If you say so… though I don’t know many babies that can read. This one’s for the big kids.
Cloth Doner Kebab. Back in December I bought some knitted food on eBay… don’t ask… and submitted it for the office secret Santa pool. This is better, although significantly more expensive (he says assuming that a DKK is worth something).
The root viewer promises to thrill your kids like an ant farm… all the while being even less exciting. Like watching carrots grow.

That’s all for now.

You Have Your Sigg… They Have Their?

Safesippy. I have my shiny stainless steel Sigg and baby will have his own... although likely cooler than mine... crap.

SafeSippy cups look to be Baby’s answer to those overpriced Sigg water bottles everyone’s toting around these days. Nicely designed, interesting colour combinations and apparently well built, these non-toxic drinking cups claim the following:

“From the clean, non-leaching stainless steel cup to the unique safety features to the plastics free of Bisphenol A and other harmful chemicals, The Safe Sippy™ cup was created to accomplish one simple goal: Clean In, Clean Out.”

Best of all it looks to be reasonably priced at about $18. Reasonably priced compared to the Sigg bottle that is.

FYI, I’ve just been made aware that Sigg offers children’s cups as well at a price comparable to the Safesippy. Meh.

Squeaky Sushi Toys

Squeaky Dog Sushi Toy. Loved By Your Dog, Respected By Your Child

First let me acknowledge that this is actually a dog toy, HOWEVER I’m convinced it could double as a child’s gift. Any kids I’m going to hang out with need to be sushi friendly, and toward that end I’m all for training them early.

Sugarcharms offers up a $14.99 plush sushi toy set with the squeaky innards. Your kids will love them :)