A year ago I e-mailed friends with the idea for this blog. I was already bouncing around names, and I wanted input. But none of the names clicked. Then life got busy and paying work took priority. Still, the blog was always there, nagging at me, tempting me, taking shape in my head if not online. And by the time I got rolling in January (guess what my New Year’s resolution was?), something kind of great had started to happen.
Thank Jamie Oliver or Michelle Obama or the movie Food Inc., but people were actually talking about kids and food — about educating kids about food. For someone as obsessed with this topic as I am, this was heady stuff. And a call to action: People were fed up. They were ready to rally. They’d be looking for common ground. Time to get off my duff and blog. So here I am.
Michael Pollan, in his book “In Defense of Food,” writes that we’re entering a post-industrial era of food. For the first time in a generation, it’s possible to give up what’s disparagingly known worldwide as the “western diet” (highly processed, chemicalized food) without having to go off the grid. Thanks to the blossoming organic movement, a resurgence in local agriculture and a growing number of activist eaters, real food — the kind made in nature, not in a lab — is a whole lot easier to find. “Eaters have real choices now,” Pollan writes. “And those choices have real consequences.”
I’ll take that a step further and say that kids have real choices now, too. And it’s our job to help them find their way. Are you with me? Or at least thinking about it? Tell me where you’re at, where you’d like to be and how this blog can help.
Lest you think I’m just all research-y and serious, I’m going to leave you with this brief gem from comedian George Carlin (only mildly expletive). Remember my earlier quest for blog names? Well, one of the contenders was “Blue Food.” I quite liked the irony of naming a blog about real food after a food color that does not exist in nature. But, alas, the nice gentleman who owned the domain accused me of being a shill for General Mills and demanded $5,000 to sell the name. Pass.
Then I found this clip, and, well, it’s all the blue food I need. Enjoy.
Nice work! I’ll keep stopping by.
So glad to see your blog, Christina! My kids’ school is making (slow) progress: the middle school now has a small, kid-run organic garden, and the elementary school, which used to celebrate NY farm week with a few carrots, has more NY produce showing up on the menu (in the fall anyway).
Hey, Chris… Welcome to the blogosphere! Love the George Carlin clip!
Great going, Chris! I’m trying to recruit Fisher faculty to take part in an urban agriculture/community garden project, possibly in partnership with a school. If so, I’m going to pick your brain a bit.
woohoo! way to go, chris! i’m so excited. 🙂 i’ve bookmarked your page. ps – you picked the perfect time to launch something new because it’s a new moon! very auspicious.
New moon. Love that! Thanks to all of you for your comments. You helped me get over that “is anybody going to read this thing” fear.
…and not a moment too soon! I can’t wait to read more, especially now that my little guys (and big guy) are at eating away from home more often (i.e. where I can’t influence them!)
Here are just a few questions: how do we teach our kids to fight the temptations of perfectly shaped, sugar laden snacks? How do we make whole foods for them without spending all day in the kitchen? Where can they get sound advice about nutrition when they’re tired of hearing mom talk about it? What about great cooking classes for kids?
I have more, but suspect that you have some great topics lined up already.
Congratulations on the launch of Spoonfed. It looks fantastic!
Nipa, those are great questions. I’ll be sure to address them in upcoming posts. Tell me more, though, about these “perfectly shaped, sugar laden snacks.” Is it the shape the boys like? Or just the sugar?
Congrats Chris! Totally love the name of the blog – very powerful. I look forward to reading much more in the future! I started thinking about food very seriously when I became pregnant with Maya. It was one of the most significant things that I was not willing to pass on from my parents to her… but there are so many extreme opinions. Sometimes it’s difficult to know what the right balance is between thoughtfulness and worry… between being intentional and hyper-aware.
Anyway looking forward to future posts!
April, you’re so right about finding that balance. Avoiding extremism is a big part of why I think education is key. If we teach kids why certain foods are bad for them (say, artificial colors or refined sugars), then they have context for the decisions we make, instead of just viewing it as deprivation. So when I tell T, for instance, why I don’t want her to eat a blue-frosted cupcake, she knows it’s because the cupcake has chemicals and other things that are bad for her body. It’s not because we don’t ever eat sweets, because we do. We just try to eat wholesome sweets. Sometimes she still really wants the blue cupcake, though, and I don’t fight her on it. But the beautiful thing is that, most of the time, she takes a couple of bites and is satisfied. And many times she’s tried something she thought was going to taste good (because it was pretty), then found out it actually did not. I love when that happens.
Chris! This is really exciting! I appreciate all the work you have already put into this, I am sure this is going to be informative. Spoonfed is now bookmarked on my computer.
Love the topic, and love the Carlin clip. A blogger after my own heart… I’ll definitely stay tuned.
Congratulations, Chris! Looks fantastic. Reads beautifully.
My personal questions on all of this have a lot to do with the psychology of food and the emotional aspect of food choices. I feel good that I’ve helped my family improve a great deal in this area, and we are consistently building healthier habits, but I get stuck when it comes to my own cravings and the meanings/feelings around some things (i.e. nostalgia for the fake maple syrup of yore).
I also struggle with taking the time to do it right when I have so many other things pulling at me. Guilt, also, is an impediment. I hate feeling pressured to be perfect, so sometimes I just throw up my hands.
Ok, enough with the confessional. ; ) Looking forward to more! Thanks!
Melissa, say this with me: It’s. Not. About. Being. Perfect. There, don’t you feel better? Yes, there are people who spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and that’s great for them. But that’s not me, either. We eat a lot of salads over here precisely because they’re quick and healthy and I’m able to customize with whatever I have on hand. I also like the crockpot and casseroles that provide lots of leftovers. Other people batch-cook. I think the point is to find what works for you, personally.
I also don’t shun convenience foods (whether that’s something frozen or takeout or whatever). I just try to be really aware of ingredients and where the food is sourced from. Yes, that means I spend a lot of time reading labels and asking questions, but once you do that a few times, it becomes second nature and really doesn’t take up that much time.
The emotional aspects of eating are a whole other thing, aren’t they? Especially when it comes to children and families. I plan to spend some time on this topic and cover it as much as I can on the blog. In the meantime, you might be interested in the book “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer. It’s about factory farming, but more than that it’s about the psychology and culture of eating. I just started reading it, so I can’t offer specifics yet, but I’m certain it will give me blog fodder.
What a great idea! I’m a grandmother and only recently woke up to the problems of toxic chemicals in our environment and the need for organic food. I raised my kids in France. My daughter told me this morning that she had done a test recently and discovered her body was not too toxic, and that her naturalist felt this was due to having been raised in Europe. Something is so very wrong in our country. I loved Food, Inc. and was sorry it did not win the Oscar. I believe it is up to us bloggers to spread the word. I’m a green innkeeper on Cape Cod. Please check out my blog some time. More and more I report on environmental issues that touch residents, and particularly environmental contamination of food and water. I look forward to following Spoonfed and will recommend it to my daughter-in-law.
It’s so great to keep hearing from folks interested in this topic! Alexandra, I just checked out your blog and will pass it on to friends who vacation in Wellfleet!
Hi Chris! Great blog! I’m so excited aout this. I just watched Food Inc. and although I have been buying local and organic for quite some time for the very reasons shown in the movie, it was quite disturbing to actually see it.
I grew up in a very Italian family and the food we ate was classic to my heritage but with one difference…..it wasn’t from Italy. It was completely Americanized and processed to death. Much like April did, when I became pregnant with Connor I wanted him to get a healthy start before he was evn born, and the same held true with my pregnancy with Mackenzie. As I look back, I never made those same choices for me. While I made all of their baby food from fresh fruits & veggies, I neglected my own nutritian.
When I was forced into drastically changing my diet to control disease, I really began to notice what I was eating. It was the hardest thing I had to do…..for about 5 minutes. I love cooking healthful meals. I’ll spend hours cooking. I love the process of creating something delicuious out of simple ingredients. When I had to change Mackenzie’s diet it was simple. Now I’m trying to get the men in the house to come along for the ride.
I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us!
This is great. I am sooo looking for more information on feeding my family better. Sick of all the junk that is so readily convenient to our fast paced society. Hope you can help me and others find simple ways to get healthy whole food into our diet! I will pass you along….great blog.
Thanks for opening this door – a great opportunity for change on many levels, looking forward to checking in.
Excellent blog–so happy to see someone take this on! My two are scarcely little any more, but they’re both very food-conscious, one in the sense that he’ll eat anything, and one who only eats air and dewdrops. And Skittles.
It’s going to be fun to follow this blog.
Continued thanks to everyone for checking out the blog and sharing your stories. So nice to see the community developing here.
I can’t even put into words how much I love and appreciate the subject matter of this blog! Adults and kids alike enjoy eating and as a society we center so many things in our lives around food. However, in my opinion, what we really need to do is put a stronger emphasis on how our food ends up on our plates. The conditions in which food and dairy animals are born and raised, environmental issues, and health and safety concerns are top priority in my book. I applaud you, Christina, for helping to spread the awareness.
You’re a gal after my own heart. I look forward to seeing you around here.
Beautiful blog. Good for you!
Thanks, Hilary. So nice of you to visit. I haven’t been over to FCP in awhile (mainly because of this!), but you’ve just reminded me I should go post about the blog over there, too.
Oh good! I meant to suggest you post about it there. (That’s http://www.flowercityparents.org in case anyone wants to know.:)
I actually wrote an article on blue foods in my Smart Nutrition column in First for Women magazine long, long ago. There are blue foods in nature and they have lots of good things. The substance that creates the blue color in blueberries, huckleberries, plums and grapes are proanthocynanoidins, which help circulation. What about blue potatoes? We made some mashed blue potatoes that positively glowed– totally naturally.
Of course, that’s not what George Carlin was taking about…
I love the name of your blog and the idea behind it. Good luck, Christine!
Hee, good thing I didn’t name it Blue Food after all, huh? Seriously, I’ve eaten all those foods (hmmm, maybe not huckleberries — will have to find some), and yes, they’re blue-ish. Though not blue in the hue that food manufacturers favor, you know? Yu-uck! But of course you’re right — the colors that occur naturally in food do so for a reason and provide all kinds of amazing nutrients. Now if we could only get food manufacturers to stop messing with a good thing. Thanks so much for stopping by! Hope to see you again.
Love your header, Christina. And once I finish this, I’m off to subscribe in RSS. It’s an important topic.
Thanks, Kris. So glad you’re here.
Congratulations on your launch…great-looking blog, very interesting, very important topic…good luck with it!
best, Stephen (Madi’s grandfather, FYI)
Stephen, thanks so much for stopping by. This also gave me the chance to finally check out your blog, which I’d heard so much about. What an incredible undertaking and resource! Glad to find another kindred spirit.