Feeding Our Children
Updated: Oct 10, 2019
I see myself as a sort of warrior on the forefront of a battle to raise healthy children. In a society that has laid down tradition and health in the wake of its pursuit of the almighty dollar and ever more convenience, I am a conscientious objector. Dual income households are becoming all too common, leaving little to no opportunity for parents to wage war with the beast that is our food system. The real victims in this war are not us, but the children that continue to be punished by a machine that would rather sell one more sugary yogurt smoothie than relinquish one single penny in the pursuit of providing proper real food nutrition for our children.
Perhaps the biggest challenge to raising healthy children in the U.S. is that the school systems have proven themselves absolutely incapable of providing decent food. In countries where cultural food heritage is passed down, and the quality of the food is valued above convenience, the school lunches are formidable meals, prepared with traditional recipes and techniques. They provide children with everything they need to get through the day, and the incredible burden of preparing this essential meal for children is lifted off of the shoulders of the parents.
Two examples of this that I have specifically come across are France and Brazil, but there are surely countless other countries with a rich cultural food heritage that prioritize feeding their children through the school system in this way.
When I consider what life would be like if I were able to send my children to school without having to scratch make and pack everything they eat, a bitter tear of regret wells in my eye because I don’t think we will ever get there in the U.S. Our food system is so far down in a hole, for so many reasons, and on so many fronts, that it feels impossible to get out.
The possibility of completely overhauling our food system is perhaps beyond even debating about, as there is no cultural food heritage to fall back on in America that would serve as the backbone for a grass roots movement to make the necessary changes.
Instead of considering how to make wide scale changes, I choose to focus on what I can control and shouldering the responsibility of scratch making, overseeing, and serving all of the food that my children eat. This is admittedly a rebellious approach to solving a seemingly insurmountable problem, but I do not see any other way.
All that being said, learning how to make all of the foods children eat, and actually committing to getting it done is where the metaphorical rubber meets the road. Perhaps my greatest motivation for having a blog or website at all is that I feel a deep motivation to share the incredible amount of information, and kitchen-technique that I have had to acquire in order to meet the demands of literally making everything my kids eat. This proposition can easily overwhelm even the most committed parent, but I am here to say that it can be done. There are some basic staple routines that one must cultivate, and some essential kitchen behaviors that must be adopted, but as with anything else in life, it just takes getting used to. The fact that you are here reading this blog post at all indicates that the seed has already been sowed for you to wage your own battle against the industrial food machine.
At the heart of scratch making food for children is learning how to properly prepare grains.
This is because much of the portable lunch foods, snack foods, and breakfast foods children eat are variations of grain-based recipes. Examples are bread, crackers, oatmeal, pancakes, etc. Learning how to make these foods with traditional techniques is perhaps the biggest and most important change that must be made (click here to see a list of recipes that I use). This change requires specific behaviors like maintaining a sourdough starter, grinding fresh flour, or rolling your own oats. Many other necessary changes simply require making better choices at the grocery store, or seeking out a local farmer for produce, dairy and meats.
Proper grain preparation takes forethought and careful planning if it is to be incorporated into the busy life of modern parents. Not only this, but there are sacrifices that must be made in order to accommodate these new time consuming routines. Perhaps it means that instead of going to Saturday morning soccer practice and out for a day of shopping and restaurant dining, you choose to stay home and bake sourdough bread, or make sourdough crackers. Or before going to bed you take a few minutes to roll some oats and soak them overnight. The examples go on and on, but the theme remains the same. At the core of this issue is where on your list of priorities the children’s health falls.
For those parents that want to take control of their children’s health, they must consciously put the health of the children above convenience. Assuming this is the case, the next steps are getting organized with proper supplies, writing a weekly food prep schedule, and learning the recipes.
Starting with getting proper supplies (click here to see a list of everything I use), there are some tools that are essential, while others are considered luxuries and can be acquired over time. I have always valued and spent the most resources on items or tools that I will use with great frequency. Examples are the VitaMix blender, KitchenAid mixer, an oat roller, and a great chef’s knife and cutting board. Many of the other items I use are wonderful to have and make life easier in the traditional foods kitchen, but can be marginalized if needed.
Keeping a written weekly food prep schedule (find one here) is an essential component of scratch making meals. This is especially true for the novice home chef, as mentally walking through recipes and prep steps helps form the habits and routines that will enable you to make these foods. From grocery shopping, to chopping, cleaning, cooking, and washing, some recipes can take upwards of two to three days to complete. Without proper planning these routines quickly fall by the wayside when confronted with a busy workweek.
Once you have the basic supplies and a written system for staying on track, the next step is to learn the recipes. This will entail a fair amount of trial and error, dependent to some degree on your previous knowledge of food preparation. I have found that the minimum attempts needed to master a new recipe or technique is three, and sometimes a great deal more. My hope is that through the videos and resources I am providing on my site, I can cut the learning curve down significantly for those that choose to adopt these routines.
We eat food every day, it is a pillar upon which our bodies and minds are formed, and I consider it to be of paramount importance for parents to do anything necessary to ensure their children are getting the food they need. Choosing to take control of the food your family eats is a huge commitment. It takes bravery, dedication, and a willingness to try something new and unusual. I sincerely hope that you choose to join me in stepping up to the challenge because the future of our world depends on our ability to raise children that are healthy and productive.