Yesterday's post about talking to your kids about food raised all sorts of amazing questions from you guys. One that stuck was this:
"So how would you start this conversation if we are already 7 years in?"
I was going to post a quick answer and then I got to thinking. Our family has a crazy advantage when it comes to food. Our job is to know and find the best ingredients so that they can become beautiful dishes served at our restaurants. The minis eat at restaurants alot and have been doing so since they were newborns. Louisiana's first solid food happened to be a pig's ear at Lola. So when I post about talking about food sometimes I forgot how fortunate we are when it comes to food. Don't get me wrong, we have our battles. Our kids are normal kids and when the see a commercial for the most colorful candy in the world that spins and lights up with glitter and then turns into gum, they totally ask for it. Because of our advantage I am quick to post about what we do and sometimes skip the HOW WE DO.
One way I think you can introduce your kids, even if they are older, to healthy food choices is the farmer's market. Something simple that we do is give our kids their own money to buy dinner. They will have to pick out foods that they will try and then we cook them. We usually encourage our kids to pick out a protein, a veggie, and a fruit. Sometimes they pick out things they end up loving (PARSNIPS!) and sometimes they don't (CHICKEN SAUSAGE). The key to this introduction is to allow them to try it and if they don't like it let them pass. I have found that forcing kids to eat is the worst possible way to get them to be interested in food. Taking our kids to the market and giving them the power to choose their own food has ultimately involved them in their own food education.
The 5 Basic Rules #teamsawyer lives buy when it comes to FOOD are:
1. Start simple and don't expect your kids to completely transform overnight. Encourage them to try new things just once and if they don't like they don't have to finish it.
2. Introduce the food label to your kids. Teach them how to find the ingredients and then google a couple of the ones you can't pronounce with your kids. It might be scary at first when you find out all the crazy cancer causing chemicals in your food but I promise you this, CANCER is scarier.
3. Create family food activities. Go to a farmer's market. Plan a day to visit a goat farm or a garlic farm. Go to a vegetable or fruit farm. Meet the farmer. Learn his or her name and find out their story. Most farmers will gladly welcome a family onto their farm to teach them about food if you email or call ahead of time. This activity is great and it's free!
4. Take your kids to a local independently owned restaurant once a month. Order NEW & DIFFERENT apps or small plates and have everyone try each item and then write down their favorite. Keep a mental note of their favorites so you can try to make at home or order at other joints.
5. Cook together!! This is the best way to get your kids involved in food conversations. Plan a night or day when everyone is around. Give jobs to the kids and involve them from start to finish. It may not be easy (our son is not a huge fan of cooking) but once they get involved and eventually see and taste the end product, cooking together ill get easier.