One of my goals as a parent is to educate my kids about food and help them build a healthy relationship with it. God has given us good food to eat in order to nourish our bodies AND to enjoy for pleasure. Many children, however, do not share this view and grow up to have a very dysfunctional relationship with nutritious food. Too often media, society and peer pressure foster unhealthy relationship with the beautiful gift of earth bounty. These unhealthy relationships manifest themselves in debilitating misconceptions around eating. For example, some might see healthy food as simply an inconvenient necessity like taking a bath. Some might view it as an enemy that makes them gain weight. Some might regard it only as means to an end (ie. broccoli as a means to ice cream) and yet others might see healthy food as an unattainable luxury. Finally, some might feel the need to gorge themselves with indulgences and then, as a result, they feel sick and/or feel the need to purge.
Modelling healthy eating habits and presenting deliciously healthy options however, can help curb these unhealthy perceptions. As parents, we can help our children make healthy choices by talking about humanity’s deep connection with food – speak of it as something to be respected because of it’s life giving goodness and the labour, toil and time that is required in its making. It’s not as simple as going to the store and picking up a bag of chips. There is no magic in that. Chips are a cheap convenience filled with trans fats and empty calories. BUT show them the chickens that lay the eggs, or the farm that grows the carrots and food becomes this wonderful, mysteriously integral part of the circle of life.
In my son’s grade three social studies class, they have been discussing different communities and how the communities adapt to support life. They talk about what communities import and export and some of the factors that affect life, like pollution, population and agriculture. As an extension of his classroom education, I thought it would be a good idea to show him where our food comes from. Truth be told, it is VERY rare that I take my kids to a grocery store. First of all, I’m not crazy and second of all, I order my groceries online. That being said, as great as it would be to go to each farm that supplies our food, it’s not entirely realistic. So instead, we took a tour of our grocery delivery service’s warehouse. I let my son help with the grocery order online, see where and how it was packed, and then he helped me unload it when the delivery came that evening. While at SPUD, we learned about why some suppliers are better than others, we saw how they grew microgreens right there in the warehouse and we saw firsthand how much more environmentally friendly it is to have all the boxes packed in one place and shipped out together as opposed to every person in Edmonton driving to the store, buying more than they need, packing it in plastic bags, driving home and throwing out what they couldn’t manage to eat. Did you know that Canadians throw out more than 30 billion dollars of food every year?! Most of that is by stores who only stock the “prettiest” produce and toss the rest or stock way too much of an item and then have to throw out the expired packages. By ordering online, SPUD is able to only stock what they ship out. Not only that but produce, such as bananas, that are perhaps a bit too ripened to ship out, get donated to the Bissell Centre or to a bakery that then turns them into delicious banana bread.
I wanted to show Jakob how our eating decisions affect our world. Another example of this was, while the mushrooms that come in our order only need to travel from just outside of the city, bananas need to travel over 3000 kms from Ecuador. Whenever possible, it is good to shop local because this choice reduces the pollution created to transport the bananas. He was able see, right on our invoice, how far each item traveled to get to us.
Jakob was then able to take what he learned and present it to his class. Knowledge is power!
You can follow Jakob’s SPUD adventure by watching the video below:
How do you foster healthy relationships with food in your family? Please share your ideas in the comments below.