or junk food toddlers eat?
There is a timely article in this morning's paper about some "research" concerning the eating habits of pre-school children. It sets off the usual alarm bell about "not enough fruit and vegetables".
It is timely because I made gingerbread yesterday. I make it every year. One lot goes to the staff in the local green grocery. The boys who work in there have been dropping gentle hints for the past two weeks. No, I won't be allowed to forget.
I can tease them and tell them they have to eat their "vegies" first. That isn't a problem. Everyone who works in there eats fruit and vegetables as a matter of course.
We do in this house. The Senior Cat will tease me as I put the plate down in front of me, "Not enough vegetables" and I will say, "Which one did I miss out this time?" It's the sort of in-family banter that other people don't always understand.
But, across the road, the two young granddaughters of our neighbours are now at school and still not eating "properly" in that they are eating almost nothing in the way of fruit and vegetables. They seem to exist on "Vegemite toast" and "Vegemite sandwiches" (white sliced bread only) and things like cake and ice-cream with a bit of yoghurt thrown in. No, I am not exaggerating. They will drink milk.
There is another child in this district who is still taking a banana sandwich to school each day. It is his lunch. It is all he will eat. When the price of bananas rose dramatically for a short period some years ago and his mother did not buy them he just took bread and butter. He won't consider any other sort of sandwich and he must be in the late primary school now.
I was talking about this with someone who called in yesterday as I was rolling out gingerbread dough and cutting out the shapes. She told me how her grandmother had helped her to do the same thing. Her grandmother brought her up after the death of her mother. She was not quite a year old when this occurred. We talked about young children and food, how her grandchildren are "fussy eaters" at home. With her however they will eat most things.
"When they were small I did what my grandmother did. She grated the carrot and the cheese. She sliced things and diced things so that they were small. I was expected to eat what was put in front of me but she made it attractive to a small child. We all ate together and it didn't seem rushed."
I thought about that this morning when I was reading the article. I know food habits have changed dramatically. When I was a kitten "junk food" was not common. We had sweets of course - although not as many as most children - but things like a packet of crisps were a rarity and lemonade was only had at Christmas or on a birthday...and not always then. But, it was more than that. My mother had to prepare meals from scratch. There was no other way to do it where we lived. There wasn't much variety either. I was an adult before I tasted broccoli and courgettes even though I knew about carrots and cabbage. Fruit was a treat because we lived where it was hard to get.
And yes, we all ate together and it didn't seem rushed. Perhaps there is something in preparation and togetherness?