Growing up on my family’s farm in Tiverton, Rhode Island, local free range eggs, grass-fed beef and farm to table vegetables were things I took for granted. Like any kid, what other people had or, in this case, purchased was always seen as more desirable. I decided early on that there was something inferior with the bright orange color of our morning scrambled eggs (from free-range hens) and preferred the taste and cellophane wrapped packages available at our local super market over what came from our family’s farm. This was before I had ever heard of or read the works of Michael Pollan or Alice Waters and understood how lucky I was to have food of this quality so readily available to me. The farm to table concept was a multi-generational reality in my family before I realized its importance and saw the huge shift in foodie culture.
Years later, as the mother to a toddler, I have a little boy who truly enjoys our Sunday morning trips to the market, anything that involves taking out the mixer, and has an inherent curiosity when he sees me at the kitchen counter chopping and stirring. But, somehow, I realized that even while trying to make smart food choices for him how much of his food was still heavily processed and loaded with added sugar despite being “organic” label. I zeroed in on the popular playground and lunchbox staples – fruit gummies, juice boxes, prepackaged smoothies and goldfish crackers – as a place to make some minor but important changes.
Summer Wish List for Farm Fresh Eating
I wanted to share my highly attainable “wish list” for my family’s summer table that aims to take advantage of the bottomless appetite of my growing boy and what the season has to offer. Even though the farm has been replaced by a more urban backyard in downtown Boston, I wanted to identify a few creative ways to up the ante with the foods that I introduce to him and the choices I make.
“Nothing inspires tasting more than ownership.”
We’ll try to take advantage of the local farmer’s market and buy local. I’m looking forward to stopping by after school and buying something to prepare for dinner. Or better yet, letting my son choose something to bring home and preparing it together.
“Keep plenty of fruits and vegetables handy, accessible, visible, washed and prepared, and literally smile at your kids when they eat them.”
Replacing the goldfish crackers and “fruit” gummies as the toddler snack of choice is number #1 on my wish list.
“Involve your kids in cooking.”
And then dine al fresco just the two of us.
“Ensure that as many meals as possible a week involve the transformation of raw ingredients.”
I remember my frustration growing up that most of the food in our kitchen needed to be prepared and how my mother resisted buying “on the go” foods and those single serving packages. Another check in the “mom was right” column.
“Eat your meals in good company, gathered around a table or picnic basket. Not in the unnatural glow of multiple screens.”
Make sure the iPhone doesn’t have a place at the breakfast or dinner table. Repeat. The iPhone is not an honorary member of our family.