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    Seven Year Old's Can Have Edith Bunker Moments Too

    Imagine if I told you that, despite the heavy advertising from fast food companies, the myriad of unhealthy choices out there, and the overwhelming requests from your children to "buy this and buy that" you, as the parent, have complete control over what your children eat at your house.

    NAG, NAG, NAG!!!  Stop badgering meeee!

    Even the choices that they make.

    It's certainly true that once your children reach a certain age and leave your domicile they will begin to make their own decisions, especially when they get older and reach the teen years. But you have the opportunity to develop their taste buds at an early age, as early as the womb actually. What the mother eats while pregnant is a driver to a child's taste preferences; however, we are not going to dig into the physiology of taste.

    My wife is a healthy food evangelist (or nazi {can I say that?}, depending on your perspective). She is always engaging my son about the benefits of making healthy choices. Both she and I (yes I do take part), have tried many different approaches with Alex in regards to trying new foods, especially fruit and vegetables. Luckily protein isn't an issue as Chicken and Steak are requested. We have finally reached the Edith Bunker moment with my soon to be 7 year old. And I mean supernova bright.

    The Tipping Point:

    Oddly enough the tipping point was a TV show called You Are What You Eat. It airs on BBC America. Well, odd may not be the right word....perhaps luck is more apt. Here is why: We have a family rule that all electronics (Wii, DS, TV) is limited to 1 hour per day. Not one hour per, rather one hour total. Alex decided he wanted to watch a 1/2 hour show. As he was getting settled in, my wife asked if she could sit down and watch a show with him. She made a suggestion; luckily enough he said yes, and ViolĂ !, on came You Are What You Eat, and the discussion was about.........

    Yep, you guessed it, shit. The host was talking about the stool samples that were evaluated in the lab. Naturally, this type of talk piqued my 7 year old boys curiosity. What 7 year old doesn't laugh when you talk about shit and all that entails? I haven't met one yet. Oh, my apologies for using shit....nothing else seemed to fit though. :-)

    Next thing you knew, Alex was fully engrossed in this show. He started asking questions about vitamin-B, fruit, protein, magnesium, fish oils, and many other items. All of the time Sue and I spent telling him about healthy choices were running through his mind. I swear I could see his wheels turning relating what the host was saying to what his parents have been saying for months, even years!

    We had to set the DVR up to record the show from that time on (around 3 weeks ago). Since then, Alex, along with the whole family, watch this show. After every episode Alex takes a few key insights and implements them in his daily "food life". Recently he has been on a protein kick. We have told him what he needs for protein on a daily basis, so PRIOR to eating something, he turns the product around and reviews the nutrition label, no seriously he does. He keeps track of his protein intake daily. That is better that what I do for heaven's sake!

    Another wonderful development is his interest in going to shop for groceries. We spend 1/2 of our entire shopping time in the fruit/vegetable aisles! He wanted to know the different types of apples, why they were called different names, where they came from, do they taste different, and more. We picked up some clementines, cucumbers, apples, and red, green, orange, and yellow bell peppers. All of these items are for him, and him alone. I suppose I should work on the sharing, but hey, he can have every single last bite as far as I am concerned.

    In order to make this post more than just self-indulgent boasting about my son, here are 3 things you can do as parents to facilitate your children making better food choices:

    You can't eat what you don't buy:

    The easiest thing to do is buy what you want your children to eat. If it isn't in the house, it can't be chosen. Pretty simple. This is one of my favorite sounds: "Dad, there is nothing to eat in this house." No, it is not due to starvation and lack of supply. There have been many times where my son will ask for tuna or sardines, which I have to open because my wife cannot. If your child is hungry, they will eat. In all fairness and full disclosure, we do have a treat for our kids. Here it is: Bunny Fruits.

    I told you I Hate those!

    How many times have I heard that. How can I describe my son would say Infinity x Infinity; Indeed. We are now on our 7th introduction of bell peppers with my daughter. She is getting close now. She is now licking them and then feeding the Italian Greyhound. (As an aside, it is the naughtiest damn dog I have EVER met.) Anyhow, progress is being made. So keep on introducing various foods. On average, it takes 3 introductions of new foods to get your toddler to have a go. They may hate those sardines and lutefisk (Ha! had to include it as we are Norwegian) at first, but give it some time.

    Dad, you make the eggs and pancakes.

    Have your kids help with cooking. I could not get Alex interested in it at all, that is until I said the 6 magic words: "Do you want to make brownies?" Alex then had the attitude of the dwarfs in Snow White; "Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to work we go." Cracking eggs, mixing ingredients, turning on the oven, and so forth. I still don't know if it was the Kitchen Aid mixer that floated his boat (it does mine), or knowing that he made what he was eating. either way, it just doesn't matter. He participated. Now he is helping make parsnip fires, meatloaf, lasagna, banana bread, and more.


    All of the above sounds quite easy and absolute. It isn't. It is damn hard work to keep your children engaged in what it is they eat. All of us deal with this issue on a daily basis and do the best we can. Does my family consume food items that aren't good for us? Why of course we do. The point is to do what we can to educate our children about food. That means bringing them to meet farmers and learn about agriculture (can anyone say 4H or FFA?) It means teaching them about nutrition. It means teaching them that, although delicious, twinkies are really not a good food.

    One other important note, and why I chose to put this entry in All things Agriculture vs. my other personal blog, is this: Personal Choice. Yes, I said it. I actually wrote a post about this late last year. While we all strive for fairness in the food system, we must keep in mind that some of us have a choice. And that choice is ours, and ours alone. It isn't for other people to say or dictate. I touched on this briefly in the beginning paragraph. We made a choice in my family (well, my wife mostly makes the choice - I am not totally dumb and always get the last word in - "yes, honey") to do what we are doing. It doesn't mean we are right. It means we are free and blessed enough to have a choice. Others may decide to do it differently; actually will do it differently. I support them in their choice. I may not like it, but support fully their right to make it. I urge everyone to get involved with their food so you can make the best choice for you and your family. Do your research! Educate yourself! Yes, there are large corporations involved, as with many other markets. With that comes issues that should be dealt with. In the mean time keep in mind these words - Caveat Emptor. It means "Let the buyer beware". I know it is used in property law doctrine, but the idea is pertinent. So, while we work to improve the agri-supply chain and #food system to continue to provide safe, healthy, and affordable food, take the time to make educated choices.

    Lastly, I want to be very clear; I am not advocating anyone watch the You Are What You Eat show or more TV. I was just sharing what finally "tipped" my son over into action. Every situation and individual has a different tipping point.

    Thanks again for reading. I'm hungry....where are my Doritos.....


    1. That's a great show...Gillian is a bit mean though. But yes, putting a years worth of sugar in front of a mom or dad whose feeding their kids crap is a good way to bring the point home.

      I do recommend watching the offers a very graphic very real representation of what living on garbage looks like and what it does to the body. I don't know why you back away from encouraging people to watch that because she's a real food advocate? Because she really puts a fine point on the problem.

    1. Not at all re: "because she's a real food advocate". I think it is wonderful that she advocates eating healthy and the show actually helped with my son in a huge way.

      I wanted to be sure to let everyone know that I am not advocating watching more TV; that is also an issue with kids today.

      I suppose I worded that last paragraph incorrectly. It wasn't that I was backing away from watching You are what you eat, it was that I wanted to NOT advocate for children watching more TV.

      I don't think she is mean though...she is direct, truthful, and I like the British sense of humor. Besides, sometimes people need a wake up call with issues they are dealing with..

      Thanks again for reading and commenting Liz.


    1. Found you on Twitter, glad I did. Loved your post, particularly laughed at the "shit" part! I should imagine young boys are very interested, a giggly sort of way, in anything that has a sentence with the word "shit" in it.

      CJ xx

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    Agriculture passionado! I lead GeoVantage's Sales, Marketing, and Business Development activities. If you haven't explored the benefit of remote sensing for production agriculture, now is the time! Not one to rest, I am also a part of the Memes Associates team where we focus on assisting large companies in the agriculture space to "re-discover their inner entrepreneur" through the introduction of market disrupting technology(s) and services.  

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