Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sunday Dinner for the Type-A List Maker: Part Two

In the first installment of this series I made a list of my favorite Sunday dinner foods and a second list of the foods I actually prepare for my family's Sunday dinner.  It was an interesting exercise because I discovered something I'd never thought about before-- I never make any of MY favorite foods for Sunday dinner.  Why not?  Because I have several young children in my family and I've been so worn down by their food complaints that I'm ashamed to admit that I've been catering to their tastes above all else.

I'm not proud of this state of affairs.  In fact, it makes me mad.  And I have no one to blame but myself.  I obviously need to change the way I'm cooking for my family and the next step is to figure out what kind of foods I'd like to add to our family meal plan.  I've already started by asking myself what I want to eat.  I've also sent out requests to the "grown-up" family members to do the same.  

While I wait for their responses I'm going to tackle another touchy subject-- the "SHOULD" list.  I figure that if I'm going to change the way we eat, I want to take a moment to think about the foods I believe my family should eat more often.

LIST #3:  My List of Foods I Think my Family SHOULD Eat (or Eat More Often…)
1. Vegetables (both raw and cooked)
2. Fruits (all kinds)
3. Sustainable meats
4. Sustainable fish
5. Locally-raised foods of all sorts (from our own garden whenever possible)
6. Organic food (although I have complex feelings about this issue)
7. Family recipes (from both sides of our family)
8. Minimally-processed foods
9. Homemade bread
10. Homemade desserts

Looking at this list, I am painfully aware of how rooted it is in current food trends.  Is that a bad thing?  Not necessarily.  In fact, probably not.  I really believe in everything I wrote on my list.  But I feel like it's a pretty generic list that reflects the work of writers, chefs, and tv personalities like Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, Barbara Kingsolver, and Jamie Oliver.

What does this list really mean to me and my family?  I'm not sure... yet.

I do know that there's real power in some of the ideas these food gurus propose.  My oldest daughter wouldn't eat broccoli until we grew it in our garden.  Last year, my two daughters fought over the first spears of broccoli we picked from our backyard garden.  They literally fought-- shoving and pushing-- to get the broccoli as quickly as I could cut it into tiny pieces that they wouldn't choke on.  The youngest one only had eight teeth at the time.  It was surprising, weird, and fantastic.  And they still love broccoli a year later.  It also worked for green beans, although only with one of the girls.  The other still considers broccoli the "only" vegetable.  I guess you can't win 'em all.  Maybe things will change this summer.
The magic of the green bean harvest, Summer 2010.

While I wait to plant the summer crop of green beans, there are still things we can do to improve the way we eat.  We've already started trying to convince my girls to eat fruit by visiting a local citrus farm.  We had a fifty percent success rate on orange-eating, so I'm not sure if it did any good or not.  To tell the truth, the girl who ate the oranges already LOVED oranges, so maybe this isn't exactly a conversion story.  But it was a fun family field-trip.

Over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to try to look into each of the items on my "SHOULD" list in greater detail.  I'll be trying a new series of field trips, cooking sessions, and gardening projects.  If you have any ideas for getting your kids to eat more of the foods they "SHOULD" eat, I'd love to hear about them.  I'll also be doing more research on where these "SHOULDS" come from and how to focus my family's food priorities.