We had a great day picking berries today. Here’s an excerpt from a conversation that my four-year-old son had with a fellow berry picker:
Jonah: “I burped!”
Woman: “Oh my! Have you been eating a lot of berries?”
Jonah: “Nope. Just one. At a time.”
That, is my boy.
If there is one thing that brings back images of childhood, it is picking berries. As I mentioned, we had a great day picking berries here in the greater Portland, OR, area, and we are now loaded with 30 lbs. of the best berries in the world. We came home with Marionberries, Blackberries, and Raspberries - next week it’s Blueberries.
Berries are one of those magical fruits that can convince any child that fruit isn’t so bad.
Are there kids who actually dislike fruit?
Yep. How do I know?
Because for a while I was the poster child forDisenchanted Adolescent Avoiders of Fruit Treats (DAAFT)(North America chapter). I have since gone through some de-programming, but I still know the secret handshake.
“I don’t know what this is, but you’re gonna’ like it”
Training kids the values of good eating is part of the job description for parents (and one of the pleasures, especially when it works). However I think sometimes as parents we forget that we are giving our kids two distinct messages on what constitutes good food. On one hand, we judge that food is good when it tastes the same each time we eat or drink it (think Milk here, or Grandma’s brownie recipe). On the other, the one food group you should eat from the most, fruits and vegetables, breaks that rule entirely. Fruits and vegetables can taste totally different from one to the next, be juicy or mealy, or (Call 911!) have a worm inside!!!
(It’s funny, when you get older, tequila with said critter in it is a good thing. Hmph. Looks like another post idea.)
This is all fine, except when the homogenized products start to outweigh the natural products. Then it gets a little hairy.
Now let me just say, there is obviously nothing wrong with a recipe tasting the same each time - that’s how recipes are supposed to work, generally. When I go to my favorite Thai place, I want that pineapple curry to taste exactly as I remember it: flavorfully explosive morsels of shrimp, chicken, and pineapple, all reclining happily and luxuriously in a delicious, spicy-tangy, lovely orange curry melange that hints of the tears of angels having been dripped into it. When I want that curry, I wantTHATcurry.
The problem starts when we start to rely too heavily on those homogenized flavors as staples in our diet. Because like it or not, fruits and vegetables are very unpredictable in taste, texture, size, color - pretty much every aspect. One orange may look, feel, smell, and taste dramatically different than the next, even when they come from the same tree.
This effect is worsened when fruit is gassed, sprayed, frozen, boxed, and trucked 3,000 miles in a freezer container over a period of weeks. Sounds delicious, eh?
As a child of the Atari 2600 and the Twentieth-century food production revolution, most of what I ate at the time while playing Pitfall(!) was homogenized in some form or other. Packaged food, is, by nature, homogeneous. That characteristic of foodish things - predictability - was at the very top of my list when it came to how I chose what I ate. Open up that bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and you can bet your autographed Shawn Cassidy poster that it will taste exactly like the bag before it. Utterly Delicious (Thank you MSG!!!) (Just joking. I rescend the thank you, - be damned, MSG.).
And honestly it didn’t really even have to taste all that good - I mean c’mon - I used to love a good Pop Tart now and then, but the best thing it’s got going for it is a)you can put it in a toaster, and b) even if it tastes like crap, you know every time you rip open that little foil baggy that you’re going to get two slices of the same stuff you got the last time.
And thus, the more I ate homogenized, processed junk, the less popular those unpredictable fruits and vegetables were with me. And in retrospect I think my attitude and wild mood swings didn’t much help my visible demonstration of that preference.
WOW I had patient parents.
What you eat is what you will crave
Without question, we all desire a degree of predictability - and I think this is generally a good idea. The important thing is,if your diet becomes too heavily dependent on packaged, homogenized foods, you only make it harder to like foods that are not made that way.Get your kids used to Ruffles potato chips, and they are going to expect Ruffles potato chips. If your diet, on the other hand, relies heavily on real, whole foods, you (and your kids) will crave those foods.
Of course, realistically your kids are going to crave lots of things that are not in the whole food category. But at the very least by training them to eat whole foods, particularly fruits and vegetables, daily, at least you will be developing habits that they will be familiar with later. And hopefully you’ll be counterbalancing the junk a bit too.
Sad to say, it won’t cure Pop-Tart cravings, but it helps - take my word for it.
Enter, the berry
As part of my fruity rehabilitation (it was a lot less formal than it sounds), freshly picked berries were one of the gateway foods to getting back to a diet that emphasizes real food. Berries bridge the gap because, well, almost all of them are so incredibly delicious. Berries picked fresh and at the peak of ripeness are one of the world’s greatest treats. On occasion you might get a bitter berry (raspberries are notorious for this), but for the most part, the variety is part of the draw - one berry might be a little sour, so you have to follow that one up with one that is particularly sweet. The variety is part of what makes it fun. The high natural sugar content is the other.
And I’ll put up fresh Blackberries against a vat of MSG any day of the week.
In case you haven’t noticed, I believe in the power of the berry. Get your kids absolutely addicted to fresh berries, and I bet you will see a change in what they start eating. They will get used to the idea that good food doesn’t have to come out of a can, or have a plastic wrap punctured before it’s stuck in the microwave.
Goji berry is a sweet tasting, dark-red colored fruit, this fruit has extraordinary healing properties that most people do not know about, and it is considered as the world's most nutrient-dense food. Goji has proven to improve many health conditions and cure ailments. Goji is said to contain more vitamin C than oranges, more beta-carotene than carrots, and more iron than steak.