There are few things I feel more strongly about than feeding my children “real” food (reading to them being the other).
Bare with me as I tie a few thoughts together here …..
If you have been around these parts a while or you know me, you’ll know I have a reputation for being organised. I have in no way been that way my whole life. I taught myself to do that. Some people like a bit of chaos but me, I like making “room” for chaos by taking a whole heap of guess work out of things by way of planning our meals and our shopping, thinking about when I can fit chores in around work, play dates, coffee with friends and you know, sleep! It just helps me feel better to be that way.
I truly feel that in being a teeny bit organised there is no reason anyone can’t make their own bread, curry paste, pastry or anything that they want. My kitchen skills when I moved out of home were limited to rice-a-riso (remember that stuff?) and kantong cooking sauces, seriously! Trust me, if I can teach myself to cook, anyone can! Isn’t that right Mum? Truly, I had no interest in food until I was well in to my 20s in any real way.
On my way to work the other morning a family boarded the train….a baby in a pram…mum, dad and a little boy of about 3. The little boy was drinking a 2 litre bottle of Lift soft drink directly from the bottle….at 8am. He proceeded to drink most of it. I’ve said before that I’m far less judgemental of other parents now I am one (the only perfect parent is a non-parent in my opinion) but that kind of thing makes me SO sad.
For me, it boils down to this…..you make time for what is important to you. And for me, food is important.
When both my boys started on their journey of eating solid foods, it was the first time I really thought about what kind of relationship I wanted them to have with food. I want them to know that things grow, we pick them, we cook them, we work hard to provide the food that is presented on the table. That food is FUN! That it’s great to have cake but that cake should be enjoyed only sometimes and that it’s more fun because it’s not something we eat all the time. For the first 18 months of both their lives neither of my boys ate any sugar that didn’t naturally occur in the fruit and other natural foods they were given or a small amount in their weetbix. I’m not lauding myself as some kind of saint….it was just what we felt was important. To keep their diet (and ours!) as close to the source from which it was provided as possible. That they try a variety of food was equally important…..establishing a “healthy” relationship with food that will help them as they grow older. Don’t get me wrong we still partake in the fish and chips style outings but it’s not often and these are treats.
Going to children’s parties was the first time my boys have ever encountered any kind of food in a real way beyond what they’re used to having at home….I am one of those parents who lingers and assists with food choices in the beginning. Now, my 4 year old self directs , telling me, “I’ll have 2 sometimes foods and a lot more all the time food ok Mama?” I’m one of those parents who will politely smile and decline offers when visiting other people’s homes (as an aside, my friend Amy sent me this awesome post earlier in the week about this very issue) and I have had all manner of judgey as a result of these decisions. Frankly, I don’t care though!
And not only do I think that it’s important from a sustainability perspective that my kids have a healthy attitude and understanding about food but it’s important for their health too. Obesity is an issue in our family and I want to give them the best possible start – for their bodies and minds (Pip from Just.b wrote a fabulous post about The Biggest Loser and much more about body image here).
Also, food, and cooking it, is an extra form of meditation for me….my friend Belinda wrote this post earlier in the week and I quote….
For me, reality-cooking shows overlook the loveliest part of cooking. The silence. The lovely, meditative silence of preparation. The silences of children eating with total focus something that can’t be bought from the shops. The chance to linger over a recipe, to focus on getting all the elements ready, the anticipation and hope of cooking something you’ve never cooked before. The satisfaction of creating something familiar in an unfamiliar place.
YES! The silence….even when I’m surrounded by my darling, noisy souls, the silence…the opportunity to think….process…..be. Food, it nourishes the body and soul. It’s unique in that way I think.
And so….baking bread will always be an important part of what happens in our home. Ruth has started a bread revolution and is urging everyone to try just one loaf.