Tuesday, July 13, 2010

This Mom's Food Journey

Welcome to the July Carnival of Natural Parenting: Let's Talk About Food
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about their struggles and successes with healthy eating. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

If my present self could go back 10 years to have a chat with myself, I am pretty sure my past self would be quite surprised. Not about some things; I always knew I would be a mommy. But I would be surprised that I am an earth hugging suburbanite, with a cosmetics and household cleaners conscience, a stash of cloth diapers and a fridge full of organic and/or local produce, grass fed beef and free range chicken and eggs.

Looking back now, I know exactly how I got to be this way. Growing up I was pretty ignorant about food. Not in a bad way, just in a  "kid way". My parents, specifically my mom, always tried to include us in food shopping, preparation and we always sat at the table to eat together. But childhood and adolescence is often characterized by the "in one ear, out the other" syndrome. So, many of the things my mom tried so hard to teach me, were not learned.

But then one day things began to change. I was finally pregnant. During the time I was trying to get pregnant, I remember reading it was good to eat a diet of whole, pesticide free (or at least low in pesticides), organic foods. So I did what I could because I wanted to do everything possible to be healthy and have a healthy baby. Back in those days, this consisted of eating a lot of veggies and fruit and whole wheat bread. Not much attention was placed on where that food came from. But when our beautiful daughter was born I knew there was no way I could ever knowingly give her anything that might cause her harm or damage her health. So I began buying organic, in spite of the price. Not everything I bought was organic, but everything I fed her was. For a couple of years we slowly added to the list of what we bought organic. We read more and learned more about food, but still we were just skimming along the surface.

Then my husband read "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver and that's when everything truly did change. I don't exactly remember why he read that book, but I do know that after he did he was a changed man; who then changed me. He kept on reading many more books and I read some of them too. Many of the issues raised in the books were things my parents had tried to share with me, but I suppose at the time I was not ready to take them in. But now I was. Our entire view on food completely changed. We began buying our produce and meat from our local farmer's market. We met and talked to farmers and learned about the agricultural climate and issues in our province. We grew our first pot garden (the kind where you grow plants in containers...hehe) with a few tomatoes, peppers and basil. The next year we started our first square foot garden plot. And this year we have our suburban garden mega box, which is growing bountifully. It is fun, we are learning a lot, but most importantly we are immersing our children in the world of conscious eating. Our daughter is so happy to help and she loves getting her hands dirty digging and weeding. She looks forward to our weekly trip to the market and gets excited when we receive our weekly organic CSA produce box. Rare is the time we buy out of season ingredients, but if we do, at least now we do so with the knowledge of what that box of blueberries has been through to get to our plate.

On the flip side, eating healthy, whole, organic foods is not without it's issues. First, there is the money issue. But if we are going to dish out the cash we choose to do so on food rather than on other expensive items. Then there is the fact that outside our little orb, many people are eating not-so-healthy foods that are made to look, taste and smell appealing. I know one day my kiddos will ask for the processed foods their peers eat and to drink pop and eat foods that resemble plastic more than they do food. But I hope that somewhere in their heart and mind they will remember what their Mommy and Daddy taught them about food; so that they may decide to continue down the earth hugging path.

I know there is still so much we need to learn and by no means are we experts in gardening or whole-organic-foods-local-eating knowledge. But we try our best and for us that means doing what we can to create a positive food culture so that our kids can grow up immersed in it and pass it on. Hey, if we can manage it then anyone can! My dream is that by the time my kiddos reach adolescence, it will be cool to grow your own food, cook from scratch, have chickens, eat less meat and shop local. I hope that one kiddo at a time, we can eliminate junk food. Forever.

This may very well be just a dream, but I have to try to make it a reality.

Hubby and Isaac Watering the Garden

Maddie Watering the Garden Before Bedtime (showing off her PJ's!)

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama
Visit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated July 13 with all the carnival links.)


  1. What a beautiful garden! I've been wanting to read that Kingsolver book. You've inspired me to add to my wish list.

    Have fun playing in the dirt this summer!

  2. I have that same feeling of, Boy, would my past self be surprised to see where I ended up! It's kind of fun, though.

    People keep recommending Kingsolver to me; I really need to check out her books. I included her in the list in my post of books to check out, so thanks!

    I think you're well on the road to convincing your children, at least, to love real food over junk. I think growing your own food is such a great part of that process, especially since your daughter loves helping out. Your garden looks so much like mine, except yours is a lot higher! You must have actual sun where you live. ;)

  3. Thank you for the book recommendation - I just put a hold on it through the library!
    I, too, want to instill healthy habits and a love of good food in my kiddo. I don't want him to have some of the issues I've had!!

  4. Yes, my 10 year younger self would also be quite surprised at how it turned out!!

    wonderful post and your garden is GORGEOUS!!


  5. Hey Kat, the recipe for yogurt is crazy easy:
    4 c. milk (I use whole for the baby and 2% for me, whole is a little thicker but 2% works well too)
    3-4 tbs of starter - I have experimented and found that being generous on the starter seems to help the texture and thicken it up. That's about it! Good luck!!

    Loved your post, beautiful garden!! Love your lil one in pj's watering. It is all about being the role model and leading by example, then hoping they follow in your footsteps instead of choosing the fast food route, and also hoping they aren't that much smarter than you and one-up by being THE greenest : ) Or I guess hope that they do...

  6. I think that you are right. Even when they start experiencing peer pressure regarding their food choices, they will always know and remember what the good stuff really is. Some kids, including one I used to work with, hated the processed stuff her friends would eat! Wouldn't touch a lick of it! There is hope!

  7. Your kids are very lucky, you are starting them out young when it comes to teaching them the right foods to eat. My oldest kids, 8 and 7, do not want anything to do with pop or processed foods. They know full well what that kind of food does to their body(b/c we have taught them) and if fact, they educate their peers on why processed food is bad for them. Beautiful gardens!

  8. Oh goodness your garden is beautiful! Yes, our paths have been very similar - I have really wanted to read "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle," now more than ever!

  9. Hey Kat! I enjoyed reading your post. Funny though....I just looked up that book you had suggested a couple of weeks ago "Baby Led Weaning"...and it won't be availbe here in the United States until September 1!! I thought that was interesting! Anyway- I do plan to purchase it. Thanks for sharing! And your garden is looking great!

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