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Keeping it Real

“Food is an important part of a balanced diet.”  ~Fran Lebowitz

Lunch used to be a simple affair.  Mom (or grandma) would call us in from playing, OUTSIDE, to have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, glass of milk and apple. Period. There were no menu options and there was no complaining. (once, when I complained that I didn’t want to eat my dinner salad, my grandma promptly poured the rest of the salad into my empty milk cup, put it in the fridge and it became my breakfast. We learned , quickly, not to complain about food!)
Once school started things changed very little. Mom was a fan of Adelle Davis, and we were sort of hippies, so I didn’t even know about processed foods like Kraft cheese or Wonder bread.  We never drank soda or had candy, except the little bit of fruit shaped beauties in our Christmas stockings (which was SO special and still warms my heart to this day because my mom searched high and low to find them until I was in my 30’s!).  Breakfast was usually oatmeal (the old fashioned way, big and chunky) because mom said we needed something to “stick to your ribs”.  Some days she would make us a Tiger’s Milk smoothie with banana to wash down our chewable vitamin C tabs (I always wished for Flintstone‘s).  Our school lunch was PB&J on whole wheat bread, usually homemade, an apple, and 2 cookies. Not 3. Not 4. TWO homemade cookies every time. We bought a carton of milk in the cafeteria to go with.

Every day, I watched my classmates blissfully eating bologna sandwiches on that fluffy Wonder bread, the perfectly wrapped Ding Dongs, or the creme filled Twinkies.  Rather than milk, they often had soda in their brown bags.

I’m not gonna lie. I resented my mom for making us eat healthy food. Didn’t she know she was ruining my social life? Friends asked me, “why doesn’t your mom buy real food?!”  I had no idea. I figured she just didn’t care enough to throw down for the amazing bread that, “Helps build strong bodies 12 ways…” 

Nearly 20 years ago, when I became a mom, it all made sense to me.  As soon as I found out I was expecting, I gave up meat and bought organic produce.  When my son (and then 3 daughters over the next few years) started eating food, it was real food.  Not those scary little vegetables and hot dogs in jars. I took whatever we were eating and blended it until they were able to chew.  As a result, all 4 of my kids will eat most anything, have never had ear infections, rarely get the yucky colds that make the rounds at school, and are generally happy and healthy little (and not so little) humans.


During my Summer Farm Camps, I have been observing the kids and their lunches. What they like and how they treat their food.  I see the difference between the kid who thinks nothing of throwing pretzels at a friend, and the one who drops her PB&J tortilla in the grass, picks it up, brushes it off and eats it. The girl who lets out a happy giggle when she opens her bento box to find big fat strawberries, and the one who takes 2 bites of her sandwich, then throws it away, calling the rest “crust”.  My favorite was the 5 year old who opened his lunch box, showed me the variety of whole and healthy foods inside and said, “see, I told you my mom was the best!”  

It makes me really sad to see kids lacking respect for their food. What it takes to grow, cook, and prepare it.  What it means to have enough money to buy it and spend the time packing it into that cute little lunch tote.  Even when I resented my earthy lunches, I knew how much it meant to be able to have it. That my mom wanted us to have the best she could offer and it was all packed up in that little brown bag, with love. 

As our kids start a new school year, I hope that we can find a way to help them appreciate good, healthy, natural foods. To appreciate having enough, and not wasting it.  And especially, to appreciate the person who packs their lunch, with love.

For lots of great lunchbox ideas, using real food, visit http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/

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A word about eggs

Lately I have had some really interesting questions about chickens and eggs. Some from kids, who might be expected to not know the facts, but even from adults. It just goes to show, again, how far away from our food sources we have become.  so, a few answers for those who may not know…

1. What color is the egg inside this green shell? How about this brown one?
The color of an egg shell has nothing to do with anything, except the breed of chicken that laid it. Eggs come in all colors (look at my variety, here), but no matter what it looks like on the outside, the inside does not vary in looks or quality. Brown eggs are not better for you because they are brown.

2. How are your eggs different from the ones at the store?
If you have only ever had commercially farmed eggs, you don’t know what an egg is really like! USDA certified farmers have 30 days from the day an egg is laid to get it to stores. Then, the stores have another 30 days to sell the eggs.  After 2 weeks, the quality and texture have noticeably declined.  The whites will be thinner and runny, the yolks will get more pale and loose.  The USDA recommends a maximum of 5 weeks in your refrigerator before you discard your eggs. What does this all boil down to? On April 1, you could be eating an egg that was laid on Christmas. (stats from Wikipedia). Now really, do you want to eat an egg that is that old?
Currently, my hens lay 15-20 eggs a day, so we always have the freshest eggs available.
A fresh egg will stand at attention when you crack it into a bowl. If the hen is well fed with lots of greens and bugs, the yolk will be a golden orange. And the texture, when cooked, is rich and creamy.  The taste is nothing like commercial eggs!
 
3. Can hens have babies without a rooster?
Um, no.

4. Why do you keep a rooster?
So that we can have babies!

5. Can I take home one of the eggs and hatch it?
Yes, I do it all the time! Of course, this child was proposing sitting on it, which doesn’t work so well. 🙂  With proper incubation (in a humid space with temps between 99.5 and 102) a fertile egg will hatch in 21 days. If you buy a fertile egg from the refrigerated section at the store, it will not, because the egg is too old and has been chilled. If you want to hatch eggs, contact me, I always have plenty available!