It is rather awkward to be working with some one whose name and family you do not know. The same thing applies to foods. ~The Home Economics Omnibus, p. 14
I was twenty years old before I ever met an artichoke. My boyfriend had taken me home from college for the weekend to meet The Family. We sat down to a nice family dinner Saturday night but I was in a state of panic. There were these large roundish green things with leaves all over them being passed around. I had never seen them and I didn’t know what to do with them. I quietly confessed to my boyfriend that I didn’t know what those things were. He proceeded to announce to the table that I had never seen an artichoke before. I knew they were a good family because they all pitched in to make me feel comfortable and to teach me how to eat them. I fell in love with artichokes and with my boyfriend’s family.
I don’t know about your local supermarkets but the variety of classic food seems to be shrinking and is being replaced by processed food products. When I was shopping the other day, I noticed that the canned vegetable section is quite puny and basically consists of corn, carrots, green beans, peas, and baby potatoes (almost all starches!). The frozen vegetable choices weren’t much better! The meat case is filled with pre-cooked heat-and-eat entrees. And that seems to be the general theme of grocery stores now: processed foods manufactured by companies that are willing and have deep enough pockets to rent shelf space from the supermarket (known as “slotting allowances or fees“). To put it bluntly, stores are really only interested in products that can provide a double dip source of income for them–the sale of the actual product and the shelf rental.
What does that mean for us? As modern retro women, we know that eating a variety of fruits and vegetables in as close to their natural state as possible leads to better health. We have to make sure we are proactive and seek out sources to provide that variety–whether it means we grow our own garden, shop at the farmers market, join a coop or community support agriculture group, or politely complain about the lack of choices to key managers–instead of simply relying on the choices that the stores make available to us.
It is also important to introduce a variety of food to children while they are still young. Sure they may still grow up to hate lima beans (rightly so, I think) but they are less likely to be finicky eaters if they eat a variety of real “adult” food as soon as they are able to do so. I think our grandmothers would be appalled at the idea of preparing different processed meals for each family member every night (unless, of course, there was a real medical reason for it) or ordering take-out all of the time.
My niece, Baby Alice, acts like my sister is trying to poison her whenever she introduces Alice to a new food (my sister makes most of Alice’s baby food). She makes all sorts of faces and can be rather dramatic. But then comes the second bite and then the third and before long, Alice is enjoying it. I’ve had plenty of parents tell me that they tried to get their children to eat healthier but the kids refuse. I ask them how often did they try and they will sheepishly admit that it was just once. It is up to us to set the example of eating healthy and eating a variety of foods. We have more influence that we give ourselves credit for (and, lest we forget, we are the adults in the parent-child dynamic).
We were raised to try new food in our family. It is because of that sense of culinary adventure that I tried out the artichokes and am still eating them 30 years later with The Mister.