Earlier this week, a fellow Current Mom shared with us how exhausted she was by the "Mommy Wars." All I could think about was how exhausted I am from the "Food Wars" in my home! Every day is a battle to get food on the table that is both nutritious and tasty for everyone. I find myself longing for the days when I was a kid and mom (yes, mom) had dinner on the table at 6pm. Every. Single. Night. These days, my family is lucky if they see that kind of action twice in a week!
I happened to be on the phone last night with a friend who was struggling to figure out what to feed her brood. Perhaps if we weren't on the phone so much, we could actually get around to cooking something. I told her that my stove (the so-called hearth of the home) was ice cold from nonuse that day.
So what has changed over the years? I'll tell you!
Today, there's so much information out there about what's healthy and what's not. Organic or not. Cancer-causing Teflon nonstick pans or not. Cancer-causing chargrilling or not. Hormone-altering soy-based foods or not. Take away the gluten . . . add a little dark chocolate and red wine. Maybe it'll all miraculously work out in the final analysis!
These days, I change my dietary habits every time a new scientific study about food comes out. I recently went from omnivore to vegetarian to vegan. My spouse, on the other hand, went from omnivore to South Beach Diet omnivore to "I'll Eat Anything As Long As It Includes Meat!" And, oh yeah, my kiddo has pretty much stuck with chicken nuggets throughout all of this.
Yes, I got that memo about not being a short order cook for the family. And I even read Ellyn Sater's book about feeding your flock: I decide 'what & when.' They decide 'if & how much.' That worked for a while. You may also find success. Until the kids are old enough to access the Internet or have dinner at a friend's house or recognize the McDonald's arches from a mile away!
Seriously, though, I have a niece who decided to become a vegetarian--at age fifteen. She is philosophically opposed to eating meat. Her parents are dyed-in-the-wool meat-eaters. Can they justifiably force her follow their dietary rules? I think not. Should she be wholely responsible for preparing all of her own meals to ensure that she gets an adequate supply of protein. Maybe.
Right now, my biggest problem is that I prefer cooked vegetables, probably from years of eating those soggy canned ones. My spouse prefers raw ones. We are currently at a standoff, having battled for years over this issue. The kiddo can't even break the tie because he never met a vegetable that he could choke down.
Still, I hope to bring back the days when my family would come together and break bread every night. Even if today it has to be freshly baked, whole-grain, double fiber bread--and I know I'm the only one in the house who will eat it.
Photo credit: "Hell's Kitchen" by Federico Stevanin