Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Teaching Children about Food


MobyP
 Share

Recommended Posts

There's a good piece today by Heston Blumenthal on teaching kids about food.

How have other parents handled it? Do you tell your kids about the provenance of the animal? Do you know yourself?

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's an interesting issue and I one I didn't think about as a parent. Eating meat was just something I took for granted. We cut up most of our chickens, but the rest of the meat came neatly butchered. As a child, our daughter went to a summer camp where they raised crops and animals. I believe the chickens were slaughtered for food and possibly the lambs. The older kids cared for and tended to those animals. I know she came home one summer with a blue ribbon for showing sheep at the country fair, though it's not something that brings a lot of cred' in the 'hood.

My sister tells a story about my niece who was taken to a petting zoo not long after having had leg of lamb for dinner. As the story goes, my niece was intent on finding a three legged lamb. I believe she was about four at the time.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't discern any difference between animal and plant life. All I teach my children is that we must kill the lives of other animals and plants to sustain our own and that we must be thankful for them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's really interesting to me. If you proclaim to a child the indistinguishable sacredness of all life, animal or vegetable, the act of consuming that life becomes sacremental. There's a connection there, I think, with what Keller was saying about not wasting anything - i.e. the carrot, the energy it took to grow, and the life of the farmer it took to cultivate it.

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Exactly. I could'nt agree with you more.

I'd like to add one more thing:

I have nothing against vegetarians and I do not want to raise any commotion here, but I sometimes (just sometimes) think that vegetarianism is akin to discrimination againt plant life.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That is interesting, and I see where it is coming from to a degree, but I can't say that I agree with it.

When I have children they will most certainly be exposed to a wide variety of foods. I will not be one of these parents who will cook macaroni and cheese endlessly if they do not like what is for dinner. They will either eat what is being served, or they will go hungry. I am assuming the eating of what is served will eventually win over. I am simply disturbed by the fact that many children today feel they have more rights than they actually do. Obedience to one's parents seems to be becoming lost, and children feel that they can say 'I'm not going to do that because I don't want to' without repercussion.

With regards to vegetarianism, I have to completely disagree with the author's comments. I could most definately argue with a child who feels it is cruel to eat animals. Human beings were put on this eart omnivorous, we are designed and built to subsist on the flesh of plant and animal alike. Any child of mine who gets it into his head that animals have souls or rights will have that idea quickly squashed out.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On a recent road trip through the countryside I asked my daughter, who is six, if she likes cows or horses better. To my surprise she answered that she liked cows better. Why? Because they taste good!

I think that is definitely not the typical 6 year old girl answer, but that did tell me that my kids have a good idea of where what they are eating comes from. I'm very discriminating about what I buy in the grocery, and I tell her why I choose what I do because she is curious about that kind of stuff. The author in this article says that we are supposed to pass along our knowledge of food but not judgment of the food so that kids can make their own choices. Hmm... now this is great in theory, but almost impossible to do in practice. These are not children in a school room lecture setting, they are in my daily life. They certainly are going to be aware of my value judgments when I decide to buy free range chicken instead of the "juiced up" birds or avoid the brussel sprouts in favor of the broccolini. Plus there is the whole list of reasons why I will not buy them fruit roll-ups or mountain dew or caustic orange mac and cheese. We do, however, reinforce the fact that everyone has different tastes and that they should never criticize the food that other's are eating. Each person has their own choices to make. Nothing worse than sitting down to a dinner you have worked hard to produce and having a child pronounce "gross, ew, how can you eat that?!"

So getting them to grow up to be healthy thinking individuals is a balance with kids. As a parent you have to set boundaries somewhere, and in setting those boundaries you are very likely to pass along some judgments.

What's wrong with peanut butter and mustard? What else is a guy supposed to do when we are out of jelly?

-Dad

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was raised near my grandparent's farm and I did see lambs getting killed for our food as a child. I even had a pet lamb and I knew what would happen to him eventually. My perspective is that we have an obligation to be aware of where the meat comes from, and to respect that. Respect it to the degree that the animal should be treated as well as possible while alive, and killed as quickly and as painlessly as possible when the time comes for that. When I couldn't afford free-range "as kind as possible" meat after we moved away, I ate vegetarian. Now I buy a share in a meat CSA. I think there are lots of good reasons to do this, some of them moral, but many more are just pragmatic.

The whole animals having or not having souls argument is problematic for me, from a historical perspective...it depends too much on what for lack of a better word I will call "religious" beliefs? Do cows have 75% of the soul that a dog has? That sort of argument gets very dangerous.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I have children they will most certainly be exposed to a wide variety of foods. I will not be one of these parents who will cook macaroni and cheese endlessly if they do not like what is for dinner. They will either eat what is being served, or they will go hungry. I am assuming the eating of what is served will eventually win over.

I'm sorry, but I had to laugh at this. I swore exactly the same thing about 7 years ago. Unfortunately my son has consumed roughly 20,000 grilled cheese sandwiches in his 4.5 years on the planet. He is such a bear when he is hungry. ( I swear he gets this from his father. :rolleyes: )

I definitely was a much better parent before my kids were born.

What's wrong with peanut butter and mustard? What else is a guy supposed to do when we are out of jelly?

-Dad

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The whole animals having or not having souls argument is problematic for me, from a historical perspective...it depends too much on what for lack of a better word I will call "religious" beliefs? Do cows have 75% of the soul that a dog has? That sort of argument gets very dangerous.

That is an interesting point you brought up, and I think I should comment on it.

I realize that my comment may have come off as insensitive, which is not the way I intended it to be. I realize that in certain cultures animals are treated as higher beings than in a traditional western home. If I had dinner guests who practiced the Hindu religion I certainly wouldn't serve them beef and tell them to deal with it.

However, when it comes to my children, they will be raised accordingly to western cultural beliefs, because that is where we will be. If we lived in India or Thailand it may be different, but I don't see that happening. I will of course teach them that it is important to respect the beliefs of others, even if they happen to be different than our own, but while they are under the age of 18 and living in my home, they will not be given the option of adopting those beliefs themselves. My parents were fairly draconian in my upbringing, and although I resented it at the time, I realize now how important it was in shaping me into who I am, and into preparing me for the world to be a successful person.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I have children they will most certainly be exposed to a wide variety of foods. I will not be one of these parents who will cook macaroni and cheese endlessly if they do not like what is for dinner. They will either eat what is being served, or they will go hungry.

There's considerable ground between serving macaroni and cheese every night and making kids eat things they hate, for no fundamental nutritional reason. My parents always told me to taste everything once before I decided whether I liked it or not. They didn't make me eat things I hated. If they had, I would have had some hatred for them as being gratuitously mean. In private school, they made us eat some of everything on the table so as not to "insult" the kitchen staff. I thought for years that I hated beets because my teacher (otherwise a great man) made me eat canned beets (when I didn't get away with spitting them into a napkin). Within the limits of the law, of course, you have the right to bring up your children however you want. But what's the point you'd be making?

I do think that animals have life force (souls, if you like - I'm thinking of the Malay word semangat, actually) as human beings do. They also have thoughts and feelings. But that doesn't prevent me from eating them, to a point (I don't think I'd volunteer to eat a primate, a whale or dolphin, or an elephant, for instance, and no insult intended to those who would - we all draw the line in a different place).

(By the way, I'm eating beets from Teresa's in the East Village as I write this post. :biggrin: )

Michael aka "Pan"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

NulloModo - I have to say I know several people, my wife included, who were forced to eat what was on their plate because "they were under 18 and living in their parents' house" and it ended up traumatising them well into adulthood. They don't look back with fond nostalgia on their benevolent parents - they look on it as a piece of parental brutality against a child who couldn't fight back. I can't think of anything that would make a child neurotic sooner. Or have an adult revert to a childhood neurosis faster.

As it is, I think oral control is one of the first pieces of enfranchisement that children learn: the ability to say "no." It has little to do with food. It has everything to do with some semblence of self-control in an essentially powerless situation.

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am not a parent, but am very cognizant that the way in which my parents brought me up to think about food was a primary force in shaping me as a "responsible" adult foodie and enthusiastic amateur chef. If my wife and I ever do have kids, I'm sure that I'll try to replicate this.

-- In addition to being educated about where food comes from, children should be encouraged to learn how good food is prepared. From an early age, I was invited to "help" my mother and grandmother cook in the kitchen. Bless their hearts, at first I'm sure I did little other than make a huge mess, but I quickly graduated to being able to make simple dishes, and then later on I occasionally got to make entire dinners and serve them proudly to the family. Today, though my grandmother is long gone, I can make her from-scratch pound cake or cornbread-and-sage dressing with my eyes closed. What a wonderful gift! Thank God these two traditional Southern ladies weren't put off by the notion of a little boy who wanted to cook.

-- I was never forced to eat anything I didn't like, but the rule in my house was you had to try everything at least three times before you could pronounce that you "didn't like it." I developed tastes for a lot of foods I didn't like at first taste--olives, for instance. And, though I can hardly believe it as I type this, I actually didn't like pizza the first few times I tasted it.

-- Working in the garden with my grandfather in high summer gave me an appreciation for where our food came from and the effort involved in raising it. Visits to neighborhing cattle and chicken farms added further perspective. (I was fully grown before I ever saw an abattoir, however, and could never in good conscience expose a child to such; there's such a thing as too much information at a tender age.)

-- Going hunting and fishing with my elders helped me experience and develop an appreciation of nature in a way that no Disney movie, however well-intentioned, ever could. (It has also left me with a lifelong love for fresh fish, fried up beside the stream in which it was caught, and wild game.)

Edited to fix minor spelling errors.

Edited by enrevanche (log)

enrevanche <http://enrevanche.blogspot.com>

Greenwich Village, NYC

The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like, and do what you'd rather not.

- Mark Twain

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, of course I am not talking about shoving beets into the mouth of a child screaming in protest. It has to be to a degree all about how it is approached.

Children come into the world as a relatively blank slate, they do not yet have prejudices, they have to learn these. If they are exposed to new foods often, and shown these foods in ways that treat them as every day ordinairy fare, and not as something that they should be wary about, or that they would even think about saying 'no, this is too weird' too, then they should have no reason to avoid them when they show up at the table, correct?

If a child is never served blue box macaroni in cheese or McDonald's happy meals, then that child will never turn to these foods as a safety net.

I work as a teacher, and two of the classes I teach are appreciation of the performing arts. Most 12 year olds come into my classes with the attitude that they will not like ballet, opera, orchestral music, or many of the other things we study no matter what I do. Still, I must expose them to it, and although many continue to shrug it off, some are swayed and really start to enjoy it, and of course some enjoy it from the beginning. If I were to bend to their wills and teach G-Unit instead of Tchaikovsky I would be reinforcing their prejudice against ballet, the symphony, and opera. With children in food I imagine it has to work the same way, my children will be exposed to the arts in all forms, to all forms of food, to different cultural experiences, and to objective discussions of philosophy, politics, and religion (as well as whatever else comes along) from a very young age. If a child is brought up in an environment steeped in culture and a wide variety of experiences then that is what will become normal for him, and he will not run the risk of becoming a carbon copy bland and boring uncultured uncouth uneducated specimen just like at least 90% of the kids that I see today.

In no way do I advocate abuse, I simply see that children learn an awful lot from their parents and the environment in which they are raised. The parents must be consistently enthusiastic about education and exploration of new experiences such that the children become this way as well.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I work as a teacher, and two of the classes I teach are appreciation of the performing arts. Most 12 year olds come into my classes with the attitude that they will not like ballet, opera, orchestral music, or many of the other things we study no matter what I do.

I teach similar courses to college students. We should compare notes by PM some time. Yes, they have to listen to whatever I play for them. :biggrin:

Michael aka "Pan"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

interesting article and comments, as a mother of 3 kids I have also always felt it was important to teach my kids about the food they eat. We discuss the animal as well as the culture the dish may have come from.

My oldest daughter will not eat veal however, for some reason eating a cow is ok but not a baby cow, I will never force her to eat it though. I encourage my kids to try foods but would never force them to eat something they didn't like. I also WILL NOT make something else for my children if they don't like what is on the table, there is always either bread and butter on the table or rice in the rice cooker.....

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We recently took the kindergarteners on a field trip to the local farm. I was the object of many horrified looks as I knelt with my son explaining to him about the cute little lambs and how the lambs chops he loves to eat comes from the little lambs. I had the same conversation with my daughter on the farm trip last year.

They deal. It's the adults who freak out.

I think it's critical that kids know where their food comes from before it's neatly packaged in the butcher shop.

And I too have a policy in my house - they must try what I put in front on them and if they don't like it they may have one other thing - pb & j or rice or something else quick and easy (Nutella on bread!).

The benefit of this is that today when I asked my daughter "Do you think you would eat octopus?" (I was thinking of fried calamari), she looked up at me and said "I don't know, but I'll try it."

Once again, I know adults who don't do as well.

Stephanie Kay

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My apologies, NulloMod, for misinterpreting.

I know a young family, the husband of which does most of the cooking. When their son was still quite young, one or two, I was amazed at the 'strong' foods he not only ate, but relished: pasta puttanesca loaded with anchovies, for example. When I asked how they had managed it, the husband said: "he likes to hang out with me in the kitchen. He's in one arm, while I'm stirring the pot with the other; and so he gets excited about whatever excites his daddy."

I saw them a couple of years later, and the son, now four, wouldn't touch any of those foods. Just chicken nuggets etc. I'm not sure if the dad knows why. I guess the son has had time to develop preconceptions.

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am not a parent, but am very cognizant that the way in which my parents brought me up to think about food was a primary force in shaping me as a "responsible" adult foodie and enthusiastic amateur chef. If my wife and I ever do have kids, I'm sure that I'll try to replicate this.

-- In addition to being educated about where food comes from, children should be encouraged to learn how good food is prepared. From an early age, I was invited to "help" my mother and grandmother cook in the kitchen. Bless their hearts, at first I'm sure I did little other than make a huge mess, but I quickly graduated to being able to make simple dishes, and then later on I occasionally got to make entire dinners and serve them proudly to the family. Today, though my grandmother is long gone, I can make her from-scratch pound cake or cornbread-and-sage dressing with my eyes closed. What a wonderful gift! Thank God these two traditional Southern ladies weren't put off by the notion of a little boy who wanted to cook.

-- I was never forced to eat anything I didn't like, but the rule in my house was you had to try everything at least three times before you could pronounce that you "didn't like it." I developed tastes for a lot of foods I didn't like at first taste--olives, for instance. And, though I can hardly believe it as I type this, I actually didn't like pizza the first few times I tasted it.

-- Working in the garden with my grandfather in high summer gave me an appreciation for where our food came from and the effort involved in raising it. Visits to neighborhing cattle and chicken farms added further perspective. (I was fully grown before I ever saw an abattoir, however, and could never in good conscience expose a child to such; there's such a thing as too much information at a tender age.)

-- Going hunting and fishing with my elders helped me experience and develop an appreciation of nature in a way that no Disney movie, however well-intentioned, ever could. (It has also left me with a lifelong love for fresh fish, fried up beside the stream in which it was caught, and wild game.)

Edited to fix minor spelling errors.

This is one of the most sensible posts I've read among many excellent recommendations, on this thread and elsewhere.

If I ever apply my immense store of parental wisdom to an actual child :laugh: this will be included. (Cusina's line about being a better parent before having kids also a keeper.)

Ingrid

My fantasy? Easy -- the Simpsons versus the Flanders on Hell's Kitchen.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I have children they will most certainly be exposed to a wide variety of foods.

Good....that's good... :smile:

I will not be one of these parents who will cook macaroni and cheese endlessly if they do not like what is for dinner.  They will either eat what is being served, or they will go hungry. 

Spoken like someone with no kids. When you see your kid hungry, you'll want to feed 'em. :wink:

I am simply disturbed by the fact that many children today feel they have more rights than they actually do.  Obedience to one's parents seems to be becoming lost, and children feel that they can say 'I'm not going to do that because I don't want to' without repercussion. 

I'd say try the food. You don't like it? That's fine with me for now. Here's a napkin. Spit it out. I can remember gagging down glasses of milk. I HATE milk to this day! Gagging down broccoli. Love it now! Gagging down seafood. Can't eat a lot of it....allergic. All the while crying. That *isn't * the way I want my children to experience food. That was the way of the 60's parent in my house. Tastes change and kids grow up. Offer them two choices. The one you WISH they'd eat, and the boring old pasta and butter they WILL eat. If they don't want to experiment....then it's your fault in one approach or another.

Any child of mine who gets it into his head that animals have souls or rights will have that idea quickly squashed out

Dayummm.... I'd hate my spirit squashed out like that. Lisa Simpson is a vegetarian...and she's one smart kid! Not that I am a veg...but...man...let 'em BREATHE!! :sad:

Edited by Pickles (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My wife and I have always encouraged our daughter (now 13) to try new foods before passing judgement. We also told her not to say 'yuck!' or 'that's nasty,' but to say "I don't care for that taste." We then try to get her to describe, if she can, what she doesn't like about it; whether it is spicy or too sweet, or acidic or sharp, etc. She will at least take a bite or two of something, and many times she has actually liked a food she thought she would not. For instance, she loves Thai and Indian food, when at first she thought it would be too spicy. She LOVES mushrooms, and has since she was very young. She does not like tomato sauce on her pasta but is OK with Alfredo!

She is a very well-read young lady and very interested now in food and especially the health aspects of foods and eating. She will not eat at McDonalds! She doesn't drink soft drinks! Both because of her own 'research' into how much sugar and preservatives go into them. She reads food labels to ensure she is not eating anything with Aspertame, because she read that it can cause seizures and other problems!

She LOVES beef, especially steaks! She frequently lurks around the kitchen and rants, "meat, must have meat," so I don't think I have to worry about the vegetarian thing. She also really likes crab legs and will devour mass quantities of steamed mussels or clams!

She likes to help me in the kitchen and likes watching foodtv, both for the recipes and the science and history of food. She adores Alton Brown!

Along with food, at home, I also encourage my daughter to taste beers or wines that we may have with meals. She knows that, right now, she doesn't really like hoppy beers, but that a Belgian Framboise or Kriek tastes pretty good!

When I cook at home, I know there are things that she doesn't care for, so if it is not too much trouble (and since I like to cook anyway) I don't mind making her something that is closely related to the main dish I am making. Or I will season her portion a bit differently.

So I think food is just like anything else we want children to learn about, you have to expose them to different things, give them choices and allow them to make their own decisions. When she and I disagree on how something tastes, she is known to remind me, "daddy, people have different tastes, ya know!" Kids are people too, they just come in smaller packages! :biggrin:

Bob R in OKC

Home Brewer, Beer & Food Lover!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We also told her not to say 'yuck!' or 'that's nasty,' but to say "I don't care for that taste." We then try to get her to describe, if she can, what she doesn't like about it; whether it is spicy or too sweet, or acidic or sharp, etc.

Now, this is a great thing. Your daughter's response then builds not only an appreciation for the dimensions of food, but you go one step further in encouraging well thought out communication about it. The negative response to a food becomes a road for a positive outcome. I need to be doing this with my kids.

Enrevanche, I loved reading your post. You painted such a great memory and gave me lots to think about. Thank you. :smile:

What's wrong with peanut butter and mustard? What else is a guy supposed to do when we are out of jelly?

-Dad

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My son's first sentence, I remember it clearly, was "I want more pate'". He is still a child (8) asks for sushi for his birthday. Lest you think I'm patting myself on the back for raising such a marvellous child I also need to tell you that my Daughter's favorite food is macaroni and cheese and she would be happy to eat only this for the rest of her days. Yes, we need to expose our kids to many different tastes and experiences and YES , we also need to respect the choices they make(within reason). Our kids must take what we call a "no thank you" bite of everything. Sometimes no thank you turns into "more please". OKbrewer, it is nice to know :smile: that your daughter is able to express her feelings about food. Teenage girls esp. need halthy attitudes toward food.

If only Jack Nicholson could have narrated my dinner, it would have been perfect.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Spoken like someone with no kids. When you see your kid hungry, you'll want to feed 'em. 

Oh, I don't about this. Perhaps you'll want to feed them, yes, but I certainly didn't starve to death having a mom that wouldn't cook a special meal just for me. In fact, I didn't even get the PB&J option. It was, "This is what we are having for dinner this evening. You may eat only what you like of it, or you may forage in the back yard with the squirrels. But you sure as hell aren't getting a whole spearate dinner cooked just for you." My cousins, for whom my aunt would make TWO separate meals if they didn't like what was for dinner, are still two of the fussiest and most difficult adult eaters I know. There are definite repurcussions to spoiling/overindulging children. Be it with dinner or anything else.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My son's first sentence, I remember it clearly, was "I want more pate'".

Pate was my son's lunch of choice as well. :biggrin:

We always subscribed to the you must taste it first, before you can reject it doctrine, and what's good for the goose: I was required to taste pineapple and bbq chicken on pizza. OK, I tasted it, and I dont' have to eat it anymore.

Our son grew up helping out in the kitchen, then he went thru a I'm not going near the kitchen phase, to a ramen/mac and cheese phase, to perfecting his Tuscan style steak dinner. Which means, lead by example and give the child room to grow in their own way. Respect your child's instincts (within reason!), and then you can expect some respect and trust in return.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...