Ask Garden Eats: I give my kids the squeeze pouches that contain organic fruit and veggie blends. In their March newsletter, Fooducate says they’re not that great. It’s just that I can’t get my kids to eat vegetables. Advice, thoughts?
-Jule, Vista, California, mother of 2 boys
Garden Eats: Yesterday we went to the farmer’s market to buy strawberries- it was Milan’s idea and she was very excited about it. When we walked in she got her own little basket and I let her choose what she wanted- organic oranges, avocado and cauliflower were her picks. When she saw the strawberries she yelled “strawberries!!!” because there was a flat directly at her height. Before I could even say a thing, she devoured one whole strawberry, stem and all. It was pretty darn cute.
We’re lucky, our daughter is a bigger fan of whole fruits and vegetables than packaged foods. From the time she was about six months old she’d sit on the counter watching us make her food from scratch. We always let her play with fruits and vegetables as we prepared meals. In our house, food is the center of everything so we love having an adventurous eater. Now, don’t get me wrong, she was recently introduced to mac n cheese (gf and organic) and an array of icecreams, but for the most part, it’s wholefood central in our kitchen.
Fooducate points out that the pouches are okay occasionally, but they shouldn’t replace real food. We agree. We know it can be challenging to get kids on board for vegetables and fruits, but it is possible. In my private practice I’ve worked with countless families that essentially eliminate processed foods and offer only real, fresh, organic foods to their kids. Eventually kids get on board, but it’s possible.
Making your children part of the shopping and meal prep process will engage them more than you can imagine. In an interview for Culinary Concepts several years back, I talked about how taking your kids to the grocery store or farmer’s market could positively impact their relationship with food. Try giving your kids $5- tell them they can pick out what they want, but it has to be fruits or vegetables. Talk about the potential recipes you could make with their picks and get them involved in the kitchen.
You might be thinking, “who has time for that?” I do, and I’m one of the busiest people I know- I prioritize these activities so that we can forge a lasting, healthy relationship with food in our house. Chances are there’s something else that can wait, and, you get to bond with your kid in a fun, meaningful way. It takes time and it takes effort, but if you want to stand a chance against the influence of the big brand, commercialized fake food out there, give it a shot.
The food pouches are better than your kids not eating veggies and fruit, sure, but another negative impact is the environmental one. Very few of these pouches are recyclable and end up sitting in landfills. Seems a bit counter-intuitive to package a wholesome, organic food into a package that’s going to sit in a landfill for hundreds of years.
If you’re reading and have tips to share that have helped your family connect more with real food, please share those in the comments here.