In 1990, Monsanto submitted rBST, a genetically engineered bovine growth hormone, for approval to the Canadian government. The process appeared to be a matter of paperwork. They had already undergone review and received approval in the United States. Monsanto’s assurances that the rBST treatment of dairy cows “poses no human health risk,” supported by the reputation of the FDA, was expected to seal the deal across the boarder.
Monsanto convinced Canada’s Chief of Human Safety Division to forgo the prevailing protocols for long-term experimentation, as the FDA had done. But high-level staffers cried “foul!” The opposition resulted in the formation of an internal review board. At first, the team consisted of several high-level “volunteers” who had already demonstrated their “wink and nod” relationship with Monsanto. But continued objections reached the ear of the Director General. He appointed a non-political and diverse team of well-respected and independent scientists to look at the evidence. He then asked two external committees to review the findings.
[Spoiler Alert!] The anticipated Canadian approval of the rBST hormone was denied. And the regulatory processes of the United States FDA were revealed to be fraudulent.
The team found the data package submitted for review to be “extremely scant and sketchy.” The report noted “the usual review procedures, which apply to all other new drug submissions, does not appear to have been followed.” The adverse effects to the rBST treated animals are well documented. There are statistically significant increases in cancer, birth defects, incidence of mastitis and mastitis-induced antibiotic resistance. The fact that rBST is deleterious to herd health and used only for economic benefit calls for more restrictive scientific data analysis, not less.
More alarming, the process appears to completely disregard any concern to human safety. The is no evidence to support the conclusion that “rBST poses no hazard to human health.” There is no logical rationale for waiving the requirements for human studies that measure oral absorption, hormonal and immunological effects, chronic toxicity or potential allergenicity. In fact there was a study uncovered that revealed rBST elicits a primary antigenic response (igG antibodies). But the significance of this finding was not further investigated. The information was stamped as irrelevant and buried.
Additionally, reports revealed that Monsanto pursued aggressive marketing tactics, compensated farmers for veterinary bills associated with rBST use and covered up negative trial results.
Canada is now investigating the senior officials who may have employed “unauthorized influence against subordinate staff” with personal “conflict of interest. America needs to do the same. The FDA has some explaining to do.
MSG: Is it a preservative or a vitamin? John Erb, the author of The Slow Poisoning of America writes that MSG is added to food for the addictive effect it has on the human body. Remember that – addictive effect. MSG actually addicts us to eating more.
Did you know that many food manufacturers have websites of their own? They explain that MSG “is added to food to make people eat more.” Why is that important? Because, they state, a study of elderly people indicated that people eat more when MSG is added to their food. The Glutamate Association lobby group – yes, MSG has its own lobbyists – say eating more benefits the elderly. But what is it also doing to the rest of us? Especially now that obesity has become an even bigger problem than smoking in America.
No wonder we’ve become a country of overweight citizens. The MSG manufacturers themselves admit that their product addicts people to eating more of it that they would if the MSG was not added. This addictive substance has been scientifically proven to cause obesity. You could call it the nicotine of food.
These are the names for food additives that always contain MSG : Monosodium Glutamate, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein. Hydrolyzed Protein, Hydrolyzed Plant Protein, Plant Protein Extract, Sodium Caseinate, Calcium Caseinate, Yeast Extract, Textured Protein (Including TVP), Autolyzed Yeast, Hydrolyzed Oat Flour, Gelatin, Glutamic acid, Monopotassium glutamate, Yeast food and Yeast Nutrient.These are the names for food additives that frequently contain MSG: Malt Extract, Malt Flavoring, Broth, Bouillon, Stock, Natural Flavors or Flavoring, Natural Beef or Chicken Flavoring, Seasoning, Barley Malt, Carrageenan, Enzyme-modified substances , Maltodextrin, Pectin, Protein-fortified substances, Soy protein, Soy protein isolate or concentrate, Soy sauce, Soy sauce extract, Vegetable gum, Whey protein and Whey protein isolate or concentrate.
Is beef safe? Take a look behind the USDA regulations, and you might feel the need to cover your rear end….
We all have our chosen vices. Let’s not even name them, as living in sin if easier if grandma doesn’t know. But usually, naughtiness begins by age 2. Most people try to off-set the no-no’s with positive and healthy choices so that in the end, drinking a beer and getting naked on a boat are balanced with vegetable juice and an appropriate work wardrobe.
Which is why NOT knowing the consequences and the effects of a choice is all the more problematic. When your pros and cons list isn’t complete, it’s a wasted piece of paper.
The golden rule is one most of us understand as simple Karma. But take the rose-colored glasses off, and you might find more of a bullshit-brown tint. The real golden rule in America is “Whoever has the gold makes the rules.”
And those aren’t the kind of rules that are meant to be broken. Just ask Oprah. In 1996 she was sued by the “Cactus Feeders” and other representatives of the beef industry. They accused her of slander following her on-air a review of American meat production that included possible links between dimentia, Alzheimers and mad cow disease.
What was the slander that started the scandal? That the information linking mad cow disease to American beef had “stopped her cold from eating another hamburger”.
That comment cost Oprah millions of dollars and 6 years worth of legal nightmares. Although her case was dismissed in both state and federal courts and was barred from going to the Supreme Court, it still created a culture of fear. And since 2002, 13 states have passed “Ag-gag” laws designed to silence those who expose unsafe and abusive slaughterhouse practices. It’s even illegal to take photos or video inside many factory farms.
Meat producers rightly understand that if we don’t test for food-borne pathogens, then an illness can’t be traced to it’s source. And if no one sees the reality of animal agriculture, then marketing campaigns with healthy cows will never be connected to hospital beds with sick and dying people.
There are powerful, influential and enormously wealthy industries that stand to lose a vast amount of money if Americans start shifting to a plant based diet. Their financial health depends on controlling what the public knows about nutrition and health…. And the entire system–government, science, medicine, industry and media–promotes profits over health, technology over food, and confusion over clarity. And this is done in completely legal ways by unsuspecting and well-intentioned people. (The China Study)
Can You Spot the Conflict of Interest?
The USDA serves primarily two functions: to promote domestic agriculture and to provide the public with nutritional education and guidelines. And unfortunately, many of the most influential decision makers in the USDA acquire their on-the-job training by working their way through the ranks of food industry and it’s lobbying groups.
For example, in a 2004, USDA spokeswoman Alisa Harrison, worked hard to spread the message that mad cow disease is NOT a risk to American consumers. Prior to her appointment, Ms. Harrison was the director of public relations for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the industry’s largest lobbying group. Among several notable accomplishments, she was successful in stopping a large-scale government program that would test our nations cattle for mad cow.
Food for thought: we currently test only 20,000 of the 35 million cows we consume (that’s .06%) for mad cow, though nearly 3% can’t even walk at the time of slaughter.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, humans can contract mad cow when they eat infected beef. And ‘beef’ becomes infected when the cow eats infected food. That is simple supply chain logic. Yet, according to a 2001 study by the General Accounting Office (GAO), large numbers of cattle feed producers do not have contamination prevention systems in place, and called the FDA’s inspection data base “so flawed” that “it should not be used to assess compliance”. Indeed, many producers were shown to not even be aware of the required FDA prevention measures.
Is beef safe to eat? If you eat beef, you can’t avoid the risk. Cattle are slaughtered in large processing plants from multiple suppliers, and the ground beef you’re eating often doesn’t come from one cow…it comes from a vat of lots of ground up cows….assembly line style. An ABC “Good Morning America” expose in 2009 found that burger patties made with 100 percent ground beef, purchased at a Seattle major supermarket chain, contained on average the DNA of 4 cows, and sometimes up to 8. Chew that in your cud for a bit.
The Centers for Disease control estimates that there are between 6 and 81 million food-borne illnesses in the U.S. each year, and up to 9000 deaths. And the CDC admits that non-reported cases are inestimable. And many of the greatest pathogens of concern didn’t exist 20 years ago; identification is a constantly changing and incomplete process.
Are you ready to accept or at least consider that we’ve been massively misinformed?…or shall I unleash Jack Nicholason’s awesome “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”
What can you do about this? Vote with your dollars. Buy and eat more plant products, support local farms, and when you do eat meat, meet the farmer first.
Want to know more? Check out The Reality Behind the USDA Dietary Guidelines… and Dimentia, Alzheimer’s and Mad Cow Disease.
Going organic doesn’t have to break the bank. A few tricks of the trade will help you save money on organic food.
Everyone would “Go organic!” if it was easy. Green is a pretty color, and no one wants to admit they are part of the problem. But cost, seasonal supply, weather related shortages and in-store BOGO offers on name brands just make decisions a little more complicated. You can save money on organic food if you know what you are doing.
First, accept the fact that change takes awareness and effort. It’s OK to work harder for a little less (in the beginning). Resisting the effort it takes to create new habits and try different things will keep you from success. There is nothing wrong with a little idealism. If we want to be healthier, save the planet and live to tell the story, it’s going to take leg action, elbow grease, and trial and error. On the upside, doing the right thing helps you sleep better at night.
Full disclosure: Organic food is not cheaper than conventional or processed food unless it’s a bit rotten or a tad misshapen. Adjust your expectations. But any extra money you spend need not be considered an indulgence. It directly impacts and supports the farmers, little and local artisans and even (gasp) large national corporations that are risking their own bottom line in pursuit of the greater good. Though it’s not a legal tax write off, it’s a moral investment.
Here are a few things I’ve discovered on my organic journey.
1. Buy grains, legumes and beans in bulk.
Not only will you save money, but you’ll reduce consumption of unnecessary packaging included with the brand name labels. And with the money you save, invest in a rice cooker. I’m NOT kidding. You can cook everything from quinoa, couscous and oatmeal to lentils, black beans (Don’t forget to pre-soak!) and split peas. It’s magical. Oh, and feel free to splurge on a cheap one. The high-end varieties are heavy, counter space stealers. I bought mine three years ago for $17. I use it almost every day.
2. Focus your meals around seasonal produce.
Get out of your conventional grocery store where acorn squash sits next to lettuce, and strawberries are next to the apples. Go outside to a farmers market or local farm and you’ll learn that there are differences between spring, summer and fall that are not all about footwear and party themes. Get to know your food like you know your holidays. And if you can tell me schedules for off-season, pre-season, playoffs and championships, you certainly have room to know that asparagus is not a summer squash.
3. Look for reduce-priced produce, on the downside of ripe, for canning or freezing.
You don’t have to have a commercial kitchen or live with your grandma to do this. Literally, throw those strawberries in a freezer bag (that you will re-use) and enjoy them for up to 6 months. Now, technique can make a difference. Freezing fruit is best done at the peek of ripeness, washed, dried and frozen individually on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, you can combine in a bag. Vegetables need to be blanched (dipped briefly into boiling water) to stop rotting enzyme action, keep color bright, and retard the loss of vitamins. See
The National Center for Home Food Preservation for specific instructions.
4. Don’t be afraid to buy frozen or canned items during the off-season.
Organic foods have no pesticides or unnatural preservatives (maybe a little organic salt!), they’ve simply been minimally and properly processed to provide food for the winter.
5. Shop online.
I use companies like Vitacost.com and Green B.E.A.N. Delivery because this is what works for me. They deliver baking supplies, bulk, dry and spice products and even produce right to my front door. Many of them have for vegan, gluten free and other limited diets, making your shopping experience simple! Though price points of their local products seem higher, my grocery bills are significantly lower since I made the transition because I no longer go to the grocery store on a regular basis. And that’s not a figment of my green-colored imagination. According to a J.D. Roth, more than half of in-store grocery purchases are impulsive. And half of us make “quick stops” at the store three to four times per week, spending, on average, 54 percent more than we planned. As everyone who’s been domesticated already knows, in most relationships, there is a Coupon Clipper being undermined by a Budget Blower.
6. Adjust your spending in other areas.
I don’t want to be overly dramatic, but supporting the organic movement is part and parcel of saving the world. You can’t expect it to always be easy. According to the USDA, in 2009, Americans spend less than 7 percent of their budgets on food. If we continue to keep the quality of our food in such low priority, the monetary costs of sick care, healthcare, pollution and a toxic environment will continue to rise exponentially and be the least of our concerns. You get what you pay for. What are you buying?
7. Clean up your diet.
Buy and eat less crap. Instead of 2 for $5 bags of twenty oz potato chips, buy 1 fourteen oz bag of organic (The salt and vinegar variety are food art!) for $3 and let everyone have a handful. Why the hell would anyone need that many chips? You don’t even notice more than the first few. The rest of the process is only mechanical hand-to-mouth and jaw action. Yes, that sounds bad. And it is.
8. Communicate with your neighbors.
Share your bounty and your leftovers with your friends. Leave a comment here about what works for you. Supply, demand and price are intricately interwoven, and we must work together to right the system.
My dad, his brother and his sister.
Aging Well: According to the glossy Retirement Community brochures and the sexy Cialis commercials, our golden years promise to include long walks on the beach, golf and games with friends, and loving physical contact when the “time is right.” So if you can handle a few laugh lines, age spots and gray hair, and find a trendy pair of reading glasses that enhance your intellectual demeanor, life is worth the wait as the final chapters are best.
But more and more of us are suffering as we age. Dementia, diabetes, heart disease and arthritis make us sore, stiff and slow. Our time is spent with specialists and our money goes to medications. Instead of waking up well, we wake up feeling disabled, depleted and disappointed.
Life has a 100% mortality rate, and the conditions of old age are increasingly accepted as part of the process. If that depresses you for longer than two weeks, see your doctor. But according to The Disease Delusion by Dr. Jeffrey Bland, there are 2 powerful misconceptions limiting our vitality in the golden years.
First, our approach to health care is outdated. When early 20th century medical pioneers developed antibiotics and immunizations, they were able to eradicate infectious diseases as the leading cause of death in a single generation. This amazing accomplishment saved countless lives, maybe even your own. And now we all know that germs are bad, and we stay home when we’re sick. We get the flu shot in hopes to avoid the latest strain.
But not even 100 years after we invented penicillin, 80 percent of ailments are considered chronic disease, and unlike strep throat, do not have a single causative factor. The infection model of pill-for-the-ill approach doesn’t offer a cure. Anti-inflammatories may reduce the swelling and pain in our joints, but arthritis is not the result of an acetaminophen-deficiency. And as most drugs are designed to promote, alter or block a specific physiological process, serious side effects can occur when those same cellular mechanisms cause imbalance in our healthy organs.
The Reductionist approach to our body systems fails to acknowledge that each organ intimately affects the others. For example, it’s considered normal after 50 to consult an urologist for an awkward issue of erectile dysfunction. But ultimately, a lack of blood flow to a peripheral organ is an early symptom of vascular disease. Vascular disease is caused by atherosclerosis, a buildup of cholesterol in the arteries. You may look and feel sexy enough to warrant a daily dose of Viagra, but you might want to consider visiting your cardiologist first.
The other “Disease Delusion” is that our illnesses are mostly an expression of our genetic makeup. But the relentless risk forms that require family histories aren’t nearly as relevant as we’ve thought.
Consider the BRCA gene. In 2013, women who carry this gene have an 85% increased risk of having breast cancer. And women everywhere are opting for double, radical mastectomies to avoid what is almost inevitable. But in 1940, the BRCA mutation only indicated a 24 percent risk increase. How can this be? It’s the same gene! Ah, but the gene doesn’t cause the cancer. It must be “turned on” by the environment.
And our lifestyles have changed dramatically. Our foods are grown with pesticides, thoroughly processed and wrapped in plastic, shelf-life guaranteed. In food factories, Mother Nature’s living flavors are exchanged for artificial ingredients and eye-catching colors, and promoted on a grocery isle end-cap with a Buy-One-Get-One-Free coupon.
In addition, we are stressed and exhausted and over-stimulated by 24-hour news channels that advertise the next new drug for the same old pain. We don’t move enough, we don’t get outside, and we feel…
Who wants to live long if you aren’t aging well and waking up awesome every day?
But there is hope. Good health isn’t something you pray for, it’s something you choose, and I don’t mean via Medicare plans, or meals of Lean Cuisine Light. Quite the contrary, it is freedom from both. Aging well is an option, should you choose to do what it takes.
8 Tips for Waking Up Awesome and Aging Well:
- Stop eating processed foods. If it comes from a package, it was made in a factory and likely contains ingredients that are toxic. Headaches, heart aches and hormonal imbalances are caused by chemicals in our food. When you crave potato chips, cookies or a zesty marinade, make them from scratch. Spend time preparing your food, or lose time feeling ill.
- Eat whole foods filled with color. Plants are filled with antioxidants, phytochemicals and living enzymes. These are the micronutrients that keep digestion, immunity and brain function running on all cylinders. Fruits, vegetables nuts and seeds are also filled with fiber, essential to keep the digestive track moving and clean, which in turn strengthens the immune system.
- Drink 5-8 glasses of water a day. This maximizes cellular activities, promotes detox and keeps your skin glowing.
- Stop drinking soda pop. It is now being recognized as the biggest contributor to obesity and diabetes (newly coined as diabesity). Regular colas contain high fructose corn syrup, which spikes the blood sugar and leads to insulin immunity. Since fructose is only processed in the liver, it also leads to non-alcoholic fatty liver, and severely inhibits the function of that organ. Diet colas have saccharine or aspartame, and regardless of the source, these chemicals promote carbohydrate cravings, increase hunger and can lead to neurological damage.
- Eat organic as much as possible, especially meat and dairy. Factory farmed animals are given growth hormones to maximize their size and minimize the lifespan it takes to mature so they can be harvested sooner. Those are not hormones you want in your body! Factory farms consume 70% of our nation’s supply of antibiotics in attempt to prevent the diseases that naturally arise in filthy living conditions. (No one can clean a chicken coup with 60,000 chickens in it!) These antibiotics affect your gut flora and digestive health, and not to mention lead to antibiotic resistance.
- Eat less meat and dairy, if only to make room for more vegetables because you need them. Make the main course plant-based, and include only small portions of lean meat. Minimize cheese. Experiment with coconut, almond and soy milk; try hummus, avocado and cashews for creams. Your taste buds will adapt to whatever they think is “normal.” If you want a piece of cheese, eat it with joy and savor the flavor. Otherwise, skip it.
- If you have high cholesterol, go vegan. Our bodies are able to synthesize all the cholesterol we need, so any excess comes from food. Plants don’t have any. Work with your doctor as the results come fast (within weeks, you can be off medication)!
- Find a movement that you enjoy, and do it outside as often as possible. Every day, take several 5 minute breaks to breathe 10 deep breaths. Make them slow and controlled; match the inhale to the exhale. Direct your mind to focus on the sound, the sensations and finding tension to release. If you are forgetful, plug a reminder into your phone. In as little as 5 minutes, you will reduce cortisol and adrenaline levels, and induce a sense of peace, empowerment and well-being.
Aging well is awesome. Do it.
Even though I grew up in a farm state, surrounded by cornfields, I had absolutely no concept of what real food is or where it comes from. And that’s because my food came from the cornfields that had been covered in asphalt and topped with super-sized big box stores. There were no sunrises or sunsets, just 24 hours of fluorescent light. And the only seasonal food seemed to be the next round of holiday candy.
I still remember when I was a kid, and I realized that hamburger didn’t come from a cow. It WAS the cow.
My mother had a garden, but I preferred green beans from the can. When she baked cookies, they were hearty “Wheels of Steel,” not the Pilsbury brand that came with smiles and love already in them. I watched commercials for Coke, Doritos, and Taco Bell, and I was jealous of my friends that lived with “normal” families.
Normal is relative, and really, it’s whatever you think it is. And the more advertising you are subjected to, the more you believe what you see. Slogans and tag lines are designed to attach positive emotions to whatever they are selling, and often, we are hooked before the first bite.
In America, “normal” food comes in brilliantly branded packages, that have been transported anywhere from 100 to several thousand miles, via boat, plane, train or truck. The products we buy are carefully designed to stimulate our appetite, quench our cravings and send us to the store for more.
But the packages, boxes, bags and cans that we carefully select from the acres of isles are simply not real food… only feel-good consumable products. The factory processing that is required to produce a profit destroys the micronutrients, antioxidants and living enzymes that only real food can deliver.
Skillfully crafted corporate commercials promise us that their artificially colored and flavored foods are a necessary part of a nutritious meal, and often dump in doctor-recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals. Labels guarantee that you can eat your cake and wake up healthy and skinny too…
But digestive processes and bioavailability (the bodies ability to use what we give it!) are far more complicated than once thought. You can’t just add synthetic ascorbic acid and expect to get the same benefits that come from eating a few oranges or a spinach salad chocked full of vitamin C.
Think about it. If vitamins, supplements and fortified foods did what the food labels claim, why are most of us overweight, on medication, and suffering from a host of chronic disorders and disease?
Food kills more people than all the pharmaceutical drugs combined. When you realize that artificial ingredients are just another laboratory-created chemical…designed to produce some sort of biological response, you can begin to understand how serious the problem is. Food is as powerful as any drug–and it can harm or it can heal.
Statistics show that 90-95% of people that go on a diet will be heavier 1 year later. But weight loss that is attained through calorie reduction or manipulation of macronutrients is temporary. And every time you force yourself to loose weight by dieting,you body will fight back against the perceived stress.
We assume that overweight people are lazy and/or ignorant–and we’re hardest on ourselves when it’s our weight that can’t be controlled. But no matter how hard you try, how disciplined you become, you are fighting an uphill battle against a full-on war! Brand name foods are designed to be addictive, because they need you to buy more. That’s Business Basics 101. Food producers need satisfied customers that want to buy what they are selling.
There are over 75,000 chemicals approved for use in our food supply. Our body’s full time focus isn’t to thrive, it’s to simply rid itself of the synthetic ingredients we consume at each meal. And whatever cannot be broken down in the kidneys, liver and lymph system will be stored in our fat cells. Any chemical that can’t be processed is encapsulated in fat and removed from circulation.
So when we attempt to loose weight, our body goes on the defense. Our bodies don’t want to break down the fat cells because that will unleash a lot of trash! And when we choose to fight fat with synthetic diet foods and plastic-wrapped products, the problem only gets bigger (along with our waistline…)
When you eat packaged and processed foods, you will constantly have to think, monitor and adjust. You live in fear. Because you are still dancing with the monster. If you think a picture of a beautiful bikini model taped to the fridge will keep you from eating the rest of the pizza, you’ll quickly tire from overexertion. Temptation is a rip current you cannot swim against. If you believe that the answer lies with secret ingredients or patented formulas, you are starving for the real truth.Your body will shed it’s layers of protection only when it is safe to do so… only when you stop eating chemicals and start eating real food that provides NOURISHMENT.
You can only start making changes when you begin to understand that there’s a difference between real food and Real Food®. You can’t Eat Fresh® if you don’t know that The Fresh Alternative® is anything but. We’ve been brainwashed. The mouth-watering, freshly baked, 9-grain whole wheat bread at Subway actually has over 50 ingredients, including azodicarbonamide, which is used as a bleaching agent and to improve dough elasticity. By the way, it’s also used in the production of foamed plastics. The average Subway purchase has 784 calories and 2149 mg sodium, and is filled with preservatives, color enhancers, chemical flavoring, MSGs, nitrates and trans fat. Their non-organic meats and dairy are filled with growth hormones, which are given to livestock to make them really big and fat. Do you get that?
Think about it…And then notice that Real Food®, The Fresh Alternative® and Eat Fresh® are trademarks of Subway®.
PS. I get that Jared lost 245lbs on a Subway diet. And 15 years later, he’s still thin, AND he’s worth $15 million. Thats awesome. Good for him. But that’s not normal, and 42,000 stores in 105 countries make it their business to keep that story as simple as it sounds in a 30-second commercial….
Vegetables and kids often go cuff-n-hand…
Anyone who has ever fed a child knows that no matter what you feed them, they are going to resist. From the first taste of a new formula or milk, to the first jar of peas or peaches, each new smell, flavor and texture is a process, and the first step always include spitting and maybe even vomit.
So we create routines and comfort, even songs and rewards, around eating– overselling our efforts like cheap car salesmen. And one day, apple oatmeal in the Dora bowl with the Superman spoon on the Mickey Mouse placemat is the only acceptable option for all three meals. But a week later, the same magical combination invokes a temper tantrum worthy of YouTube, and we’re back to playing airplane with strained bananas.
So many factors play into a child’s bipolar appetite. Growth spurts, siblings, millions of marketing images, teeth (or lack thereof), taste buds, texture, hot and cold, interested dogs and curious cats, attention span, energy levels, parental reaction and past experiences. The very least of these factors is probably the actual compatibility of the food with the child’s palate.
I’ve heard that a food has to be introduced SEVEN times before a child accepts it. And according to the anectdotal evidence that I’ve been collecting for the last 14 years, this is a ridiculously inaccurate underestimate. You ask me how I get my kids to eat kale and beans? Well, the same way every other parent feeds their child. I do and I don’t. Go to the Burger King playground and listen to all the parents insisting that a child “finish that hamburger and fries before playtime”, and check out all of the food thrown on the floor, stuffed in wrappers and thrown away.
Getting kids to eat ANYTHING requires Nobel Peace Prize-worthy ingenuity and patience, SWAT team-level negotiation skills, and government intelligence training in manipulation and subterfuge. At any given meal, whoever is smarter, richer and more stubborn has the best shot at winning the game, but there are no sure bets. The taste of defeat is bitter, and goes best coupled with a nice Merlot.
My first approach was to transition the children gradually…limiting their animal products, processed foods and snacks and asking them to just try my meals. And that completely DID NOT WORK.They had no interest (i.e. motivation) to eat the food I was cooking because they would just hold out and sneak a PB&J sandwich, eat a freezer pizza or blow through a box of cereal when I wasn’t looking. There became a flourishing black market for contraband in my upstairs…hidden food, secret codes, barters for favors, cash and candy. Strange, unmarked packages came from UPS addressed to my 13 year old. I was actually quite impressed with the little mobsters. They weren’t arguing with me or each other, and they were happily supportive of my new vegan efforts. But there was too much eye contact, weird hand-signals and positive team spirit at the table….Big Red Flags. So, phase 2 was complete immersion. I bought nothing that wasn’t vegan, and I stopped buying unlimited amounts of bread and peanut butter. There were no chips, cereal or frozen pizzas. The kitchen landscape was barren and my children began to look….thin and hungry. Aghhhh…I was finally getting somewhere. Next, I attempted to indoctrinate them emotionally, and had them view Food Inc, SuperSize Me, and some horrific documentaries showing slaughter houses and chicken farms so that they could glimpse a little of the reality that was fueling my passion. But emotions fade as appetite rises, so their childish convictions rightfully and expectedly wain with the tide.
For the next few months, I put unbelievable stress on myself to make three vegan meals a day for each member of my family, no matter how many different directions we were running. No matter who was going where, I cooked in advance and filled coolers and baskets with appropriate fare. I sent lunch boxes, brown bags, and trays of separately made pizza, soy dogs, shamburgers and snacks to school, parties and friends. There was no eating out, no stopping for something quick and no compromises. Within six months, I needed a vacation in the psychiatric ward.
But it was all part of the process. It’s been four years, and my kids have not starved or developed any malnourishment diseases. In fact, they are thriving. They will tell you “Our mom is vegan, so we are too at home”….Which is GREAT! (But stay out of their way at the Pizza Hut Buffet line!) The foods and flavors I’ve introduced my kids to are not the usual American cuisine….But who wants to be normal? I’ve learned how to camouflage the massive amounts of vegetables I include in my dishes (BLENDER!), and they’ve learned that beans do not mean daddy lost his job. And ketchup still goes a long way to disguise nutritious substances. They’ve learned to text their dad a wish list if he’s stopping at the grocery, and though I hear the rustling of bags and the whispered exchange of goods and services, I don’t mind as long as they come to the table hungry and act appropriately grateful for my efforts. I don’t buy snacks and extras on a regular basis, but a Friday night party is just that, and I try to create vegan treats that qualify as junk food.
So how do you get your kids to eat what you cook? First you cook it. Then you serve it, and sit with them while they investigate it. Give them your opinion on it. (I don’t like everything I make!) Let them explore the tastes and texture. I often tell my kids they can ‘pick out’ one or two things…and then take pride in all the good stuff they are still eating. And a little hunger goes a long way. No one is going to starve. Kids in third world countries stand in line for hours just to receive a small portion of bland rice or mush or ANYTHING. I’m just saying. Picky is directly proportional to choice.
And then you may negotiate a certain number of bites. You might get angry and throw the dish in the sink, and you may quietly surrender to their opposition and eat it all yourself. They may go to bed hungry, and they may find mercy in a PB&J sandwich.
It’s all part of the process, and it’s the same in every home, regardless of the type of food you cook or how picky you think your kids are. It’s a comedy of errors, an exercise in futility and a journey of love. And it is SO worth it!