Friday, June 20, 2008

Hasta la Vista, Banana?

I've been working on a long, link-filled post for a week or so and haven't posted it, or anything else lately, because I a got stuck. I was inspired to move on and get out of my rut by an interesting piece in the New York Times today about the expected spike in the price of bananas, thanks to floods in Ecuador, rising fuel costs, and a virus that may wipe out the single variety of bananas that is currently grown for the worldwide market. I rarely buy bananas. Personally, I'm indifferent to them taste-wise. Ethically, well, what's to like about bananas? One hundred years of colonialism, oppression, and deforestation for a fruit that must travel hundreds, if not thousands of miles to its final destination under refrigeration? Ugh.

I do sometimes buy bananas on those rare occasions when I take the kids to the produce market and they beg me for a bunch. Despite my ethical misgivings about buying fruit from afar, I try to pick my battles with the kids. I've been trying to explain the whole concept of buying local, seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables to Annabel lately. She's starting to get it, but she still wants me to buy watermelon, now. I've stuck firm on the watermelon and I suppose that one's easier for me because I grew up eating it only during the summer, whereas I've always known bananas as a year-round fruit. (I have often wonder, though, what is the natural season for bananas?) In my youth, watermelon was strictly a late summer, outdoor food, to be enjoyed during backyard cookouts. Strawberries came ready around my birthday in late May and strawberry shortcake was my traditional birthday cake. Well, that and Lady Baltimore cake, but you can't have too many traditional birthday cakes, if you ask me.

My tastes remain rather strictly geared toward what's in season. Recently, while cleaning out our deep freeze in anticipation of having to store 100 or so pounds of beef, I composted gallons of berries, frozen years ago and now freezer-burned and hardened into solid blocks. My husband wondered why we had so many berries we didn't use and I realized that I just don't crave berries out of season and so those bags just sit there in the bottom of the freezer, unused. We froze a bunch of asparagus this spring, when it was coming on so strong we couldn't keep up with it, and I am determined to cook with it soon, because I know come fall, I won't be interested. Next year, we'll try to give more away.

I want my kids to develop this same sense of the seasonality for food; to experience anticipation for asparagus, peas, strawberries, beans, peaches, tomatoes, watermelon, and pumpkins; to grow up with palates that know the difference between the fresh-picked and the well-traveled. It ain't easy, though, to convince them to eat greens or asparagus. Just last night, I made a bread pudding with local chard, kale, eggs, sorta local raw milk (I know I shouldn't count Sequim as local, but I haven't found a local raw milk dairy without a wait list), Canadian nitrate-free bacon (uh, we'll be getting bacon from the Decks in the near future), and the crusty ends of home baked bread. Luc ate what I fed him, though he mostly wanted the bacon. Annabel wouldn't touch it and ate a (nitrate-free, from Old Country Sausage) hotdog instead. Again, picking battles. I won't make her eat greens, yet, but I think from now on, I'll stand firm on bananas.

It's a perennial question for parents of young children, but for those of us trying to eat with the seasons, it's even more of a challenge: How do you get them to eat the good stuff? Also, what do you do when they refuse to eat what you have cooked for the family?


Hello, I'm Sally. said...

Oh, this is a hard one. Just the other night, all Violet ate for dinner was slivered almonds! Oh silly girl. We don't give them anything else to eat, I really try to have at least one thing they will eat, even if it is just almonds. I also try to sneak things in on occasion, but I think the key is just to keep trying. Really, I know a bunch of adults who are adventurous eaters that where incredibly picky as children. It sure is tough though.

Magpie Ima said...

I love my bananas. I know, it's bad, they come from far away and the banana industry has a long and evil history, but I can't imagine a day without bananas. I pay for organic and enjoy them while I can since I know they won't be available forever.

As for getting my kids to eat the good stuff....I'm pretty much a failure. It's a sore subject, really. I went from loving food to hating all cooking as my kids' pickiness and my health issues collided. I'm slowly pulling out of that funk and the kids are eating more things. I even have a teen who makes bread!

I'm glad I found your blog!

Chris said...

Magpie--I was just thinking yesterday about how I'm glad I don't feel compelled to be a purist about food (or much of anything, really). I suspect most of us have our little food things that we eat, even if doing so doesn't exactly jibe with our overall values. I eat way more not-fair-trade chocolate than I "should"...which is probably worse than eating bananas.

I'm glad I found *your* blog!

randiedoula said...

I went through this whole process of planting a garden with the kids this summer with the hope that they would be more likely to eat vegetables if they grew them. Violet ate 1 piece of lettuce, and they both a few cukes. That's it. I hope that after years of modeling they will at some point come around. I think a good deal of food choices for young children is developmental, too. I read somewhere once that a child has to be offered something like 15 times before they will eat it! At least she likes tofu...