Yesterday morning I got a bee in my bonnet when I opened up the kids’ lunch boxes and found (yet again) food that had spoiled because it hadn’t been eaten in time.
I often get cheese sticks returned, too warm to be safe to eat. Yogurt. Etc. All seemingly high-interest, perishable foods. Today it was homemade potato and vegetable soup (with a base that looked and tasted much like chicken noodle) packed in a thermos.
This was followed by Austin asking the kids if they wanted berries in their waffles. Two said no, and I wanted to flip my shit.
“I’m only putting in four or five berries,” I said, in a whisper to him.
To which Austin replied with an apologetic look, “Yeah, but they won’t eat it.”
Of the two waffles made with a tablespoon full of blueberries/raspberries, one came back with everything eaten except the parts that contained berries. I had to choke back the urge to scream as it went into the compost.
And that is our constant dilemma: how hard do we push food they don’t want to eat?
We try our hardest to make food that is palatable for our children (grilled veggie nachos, stir fried veg and rice, whole grain pizzas, etc.) and to provide examples of adventurous/healthy eating through our own behavior, but we can’t control external sources (adults outside of our home who have conventional values, their peers who are also influenced by these external factors, and mainstream media they are exposed to outside of our home).
We also don’t want to make them eat everything off their plates, because that could lead to issues with overeating. At most, we tell them at dinner that they can’t have anything else (dessert, snacks later, etc.) unless they finish their portion. They don’t have to finish but the last couple bites of vegetables are often worth it, especially if homemade cookies or stove made popcorn is on the books later in the evening.
Yesterday morning on Facebook, a friend of mine posted a link to an NPR blog about a movement in Europe to utilize “ugly” fruits and vegetables. I feel like American culture tends to promote wastefulness and picky eaters, and I feel like I’m fighting an uphill battle.
Some days the only things that keep me going is my ethical duty (toward the environment and our bodies) and Austin’s appreciation of all that I try to do. While I’ve come to terms with some things — like the fact that our children may not currently appreciate every made-from-scratch breakfast we try to provide in the mornings and the wholesome, homemade dinner Austin and I cook almost every night — it is hard to accept that I might be fighting a losing battle against conventional preference.
I want to believe that there is hope, that it’ll pay off. I’m certainly not going to stop putting my love or energy into the food I prepare for my family. Neither is Austin. We believe in the importance of this labor of love too deeply.
My mother managed to balance the two: homemade food and fast/processed foods. In the end with me, slow food won. I only dabbled with McDonald’s and frozen dinners for a few years in college because of the novelty. Frankly, it’s hard for me these days to choose a canned biscuit when the alternative is a fresh buttermilk one right out of the oven. I also love being in the kitchen — second only to the garden.
I think I mostly need to take a deep breath and find determination to keep on going, perhaps with some thicker skin.
But gosh darn it. When the kids talk about Dr. Pepper, and I’ve got homemade ginger ale bottled on the counter and fermenting away… it sure does ruffle my feathers. Even if it’s not meant to be personal.