Create Your Family Food Journey

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.

In the kitchen w/ Catcher

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.  

Food is our common ground, a universal experience.
— James Beard

Talking with Kids About Food

A common question the Chef and I often get asked is:

"how do you get your kids to eat so well?" 

Our answer is quite simple:

We talk to our children about food. We don't talk to them about what they WANT from food, as the only answers we would get would be ice cream, edamame, and nerds. We actually TALK to them about food. We talk about where food comes from, we talk about food labels and ingredients, we talk about the commercial food industry, we talk about farmers and food miles, we talk about chickens, we talk about hunting and slaughter, we talk about vegans and vegetarians, and we talk about food choice. But mostly we just talk. 

Food is a big part of our collective journey on this planet and the minis are also a big part of that journey. How could we leave one out of the other? 

Our 8 year son is particularly interested in food these days. His mind was blown when he found out in Italy, that food dye is banned there. He just could not wrap his head around the fact that it was bad for people, yet still allowed in the US. He reads labels when we grocery shop and if he "accidentally" buys something with high fructose corn syrup in it he won't indulge. He does this because the Chef and I have talked to him about what food dye does to kids metabolisms, we talk to him about how high fructose corn syrup when used in moderation is a major cause of heart diseaseobesitycancer, dementia, liver failure, tooth decay and more. We don't ignore the facts about food and as parents we have no desire to hide anything from our children.

Eating dinner. Fancy dinner. With vegetables. And duck. And cheese. Not a chicken finger in sight. 

Some may think our openness is scary or unneeded but I disagree. The more knowledge our children are armed with about what's in their food, the more power and choice they will grow up to have. It's a dangerous time in our country for our delicate food system but our solution is actually quite simple.

We talk to our kids about food.

Do you?


Food Extremists

Food extremists have been on my mind lately. After watching a friend's restaurant get annihilated on Facebook for possibly using buns that weren't vegan, I started to lament on the reality of food extremism in today's culture.

Last week I noticed a very thoughtful status update about our restaurants' vegan and vegetarian offerings on a local vegetarian Facebook page. I belong to said page because I tend to eat veggie or vegan. The Chef also tries to eat mainly veggie however he's not as strict as I am due to the fact that he cooks food for a living and must taste everything. The status update was kind and boastful about the many delicious veg offerings at The Greenhouse Tavern. Breaking my own rule, I scrolled down to read the comments. There were a few thoughtful comments and then there were not. The extremists had come out to play. Each comment worse than the one before, I read the hatred and disgust for something I love so dear.

Being quite used to nasty motherfuckers on the internet, their words didn't faze me. I read their words and moved on. But their extremism did sit with me and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it.

With some many issues surrounding food I can see why food extremism has become so relevant in today's society. From Foie Gras bans (sorry LA) to gluten free dieting, the food world is fucked up. Vegans hate meat eaters, carnivores hate vegans. It's like watching the last election on steroids when it comes to these issues.

I just don't get it.

CARNIVORESHATE.jpg

 Why can't we all just get along? Why can't vegans understand that alienating the majority of this country's population is the WORST POSSIBLE way to get their message across? Why can't carnivores understand that the majority of meat produced in this country is FUCKED UP and most likely a part of the horrible factory farm system? Why does everything related to food have to be some gdamn extreme?

 Things are not going to change overnight. People are not going to stop eating meat. Passions are not going to disappear and the anger people feel about these issues is not going to die. But maybe, just maybe, if the approach was less shocking and more focused on educating the public about HOW our food system actually works, then maybe small movements of change could begin. 

Any ideas?

Food to a large extent is what holds a society together and eating is closely linked to deep spiritual experiences.
— Peter Farb and George Armelagos