This year, I am grateful for learning the following lesson, and all the people, places, events, and things that taught me it. If I don't enjoy certain things with certain people under certain circumstances, I oughtn't write it off. Being open to try it again under different circumstances with different people can reverse the curse.
I'm gonna judge, and I'm probably not in a position to judge as I neither have nor want offspring. I reference my personal experience to make a point. This is not an ad hominem attack on the parent in question in the article. Rather, I am questioning her methods. Enough nicey-nicey.
This is decadent. Wanting to expand your child's tastes & preferences towards healthier fare isn't bad in and of itself. Steering your child to eat your same "global," fancy-pants fare as you...why? There are distinctions between indulgence and control, and [the child's] agency in the realm of child-rearing, as I understand it. Of course a parent, if s/he has had the advantages in life to have pursued some kind of nutrition education, probably wants to feed his/her children the best food available. Moreover, in truly making this an educational venture, one should call attention to the systems that get the food from farm to table. Can the nanny impart this while feeding her charge organic quinoa cooked in free-range chicken broth and local vegetables sauteed in coconut oil? To unpack such a meal fully, if I may prescribe, exposing a child to new dishes ought to cover the gastronomic, economic, environmental, social, political, and spiritual aspects of consumption, from farm to fork, as it were.
Such instruction ought to
1) be done in a manner in accordance with the child's understanding
2) include instruction on how to eat *in ideal situations*
a) with ritual, making time to eat, preferably in a group
b) with thanksgiving, education, and acknowledgment of how the food arrived to the plate
c) with mindful chewing
d) (back to the beginning) with awareness and even participation in preparation.
I cannot tell you how many people at Princeton neither practiced decent community standards in the common kitchen nor knew how to cook more than reheating. Specialization will bite you in the ass when the zombie apocalypse comes (I warn, shaking my finger as I put on my tinfoil hat). Brain smarts don't equate to commonsense survival/domestic skills smarts. I'm not saying they must be positively correlated, but I'm not saying one should be focused on to the exclusion of the other. I may be able to bake a VGF blueberry pie and write an essay on apocalyptic messianism in Jewish mysticism, but I fall short in navigating healthy interpersonal relationships (workin' on it!).
As for exposing children to unique ingredients, look, I tried. There were a lot of kids who were around for Foodie Call and the ODD demos this summer at WFM. I made weird "fusion" (I'm being nice) cuisine, mainly desserts. In my experience, kids are a lot less likely to try new things based on (arbitrary?) colour, texture, and appearance preferences than adults, who can override those reactions with "but it's healthy, right?" Plus kids' palates are more sensitive since they haven't been drinking alcohol and coffee, and smoking cigarettes for x number of years. Kids like cupcakes. I've been paid to bake cupcakes for my mom's coworker's daughter and I was invited to my aunt's sister's house to bake cupcakes with her foster children. When I guest-taught a class on healthy snacks at Stafford Middle School, the students preferred the black bean brownies to the hommos. Brownies are delicious and familiar. Hommos is weird (to children from middle class, fairly rural Virginia). Any questions?
Kids generally want to eat what their peers are eating in the lunchroom. Granted, in NYC, the child in question in this story most likely wouldn't be unique if she brought the edamame and black rice to school. I was weird and I enjoyed the whole wheat wrap with red pepper hommos, organic yoghurt, fruit, and homemade cookie-of-the-week Ownie Mom packed for me, even though my lunch differed from my peers of the Lunchables and white bread crowd. Note: my mom was a stay at home mom with time to invest in making lunch for my brother and me. That's the biggest issue I take with this story, CLASS.
Privileged palates can enjoy the finest, most exotic ingredients money can buy. Being vegan and gluten-free and from a bourgeois background, I am well aware that my diet can have a carbon footprint the size of Sasquatch if I'm not consciously choosing whole, unprocessed, local or domestic foods. I am well aware that eating a diet of high-volume, low-calorie foods is a privilege for those who can afford it (because government subsidies. Read Michael Pollan's Food Rules and anything by Marion Nestle for in-depth analysis). I am not saying, "Don't" to those who can afford to eat exotic ingredients from the world over and who can afford to shop local and purchase all organic ingredients. Just be aware of how and why you can. And look into what you can do to share your knowledge and resources with others who can't.
In sum, it is my wish for everyone to work on building a healthy relationship to food. No matter which nurturer provides it and how.
The mercenary side of me says, hey, I'm a health coach and I can teach both parents, nannies, and kids how to cook quinoa...and allergy-friendly cupcakes.
Now eat this:
My grandmother used to make cinnamon-raisin bread toast with butter for my brother and me. There's a picture of us eating it on the front porch of their house. I used to eat cinnamon raisin toast with peanut butter in college before I went vegan. Pepperidge Farms' cinnamon raisin bread contains dairy. This paleo-style (grain-free) quickbread combines all those flavours into one delicious treat. It is both boyfriend- and coworker-approved.
Peanut Butter Cinnamon Raisin Bread
Modified from Pecan Raisin Bread in Elena Amsterdam's The Gluten-free Almond Flour Cookbook
3/4 cup creamy, salted peanut butter (just peanuts and salt, not the other crap)
1/4 cup grade B maple syrup
1 cup water
4 teaspoons chia seeds
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 cup arrowroot starch
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup pecans, broken to bits
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9-inch pie plate and set aside.
In a blender or food processor, whip the peanut butter until fluffy. Beat in the chias, water, and maple syrup. Add the dry ingredients and process until combined, scraping down the sides occasionally. Fold in the pecans and raisins and mix until evenly distributed. Transfer to the pan and bake for 35-37 minutes. The top will be shiny but should spring back to the touch and it should pass the toothpick test.
Enjoy with a glass of nondairy milk!
Shanna knows my style. Skulls!
Hey, look, it's a barbecue stand at PPL Park with my name on it! *Bored wanderings during football game.*
Pretty sunset over the Delaware River
Very kickass almond-teff beer bread (see Of Bread and Beer in May 2012 on this blog)
<meta>I go through this swing every Thursday and sometimes on Saturday: OMFG, so tired. I'm just going to go home and sleep and fuck the blog post. No one'll notice. Ahhh, now I have an idea. Oh shit, I didn't cook anything this week. Well, I'll be up late anyway. Ooh, now I'm looking forward to my fireside chat/captive audience. Man, lemme loose at the keyboard! I have ideas and pictures to share!</meta>