Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Stop making everything sound so easy

Yesterday, after I'd worked out and before I went gardening and picnicking with the children, I decided I wanted to watch some adult morning television.  No, not that kind of adult television; you know, stuff that isn't made for seven year olds.

My guilty pleasure is the Rachael Ray show.  Some of her tips and tricks I find don't apply to me, but sometimes there's something I can make use of.  Plus it's usually fun, fast and colorful, and while I do love Charlie Rose like a drug, sometimes I like to park my brain just as much as anyone else.

I lasted less than ten minutes yesterday.  It was a repeat, I think, of a show where she and a guest talked about farmers' markets.  No, she asserted, the produce could be even less expensive than what you bought in the stores.  Yes, her guest contended, if your child knew what a fresh vegetable was when they were five, they'd be more likely to eat it and they wouldn't need to take all kinds of medications to manage their health.

"What?!" I said in disgust.

Jacob stared at me.  "If you don't like it, why are you watching it?"  He was right.  Back to PBS we went.

Jacob knows what fresh vegetables are, but he doesn't eat them.  There was some monumental thing he wanted to do two weeks ago that got him to eat five pieces of broccoli one day and then a small bean and cheese burrito the next day.  He is slowly becoming reasonable enough that he can talk himself out of his visceral fear of vegetables, but this taken him years.  All this time, he has been watching mommy, daddy, his two sisters and his twin brother eat vegetables.

It isn't as easy as people would make it sound.

He's a picky eater.  There are lots of picky eaters.  They're pains in the necks, but they're not tragedies (most of the time).  To me, the tragedy is a child who likes fresh vegetables but can't have them, whether it's because of access, availability or affordability.  What's the quick little sound bite to solve that problem?

Actually, Ray had one.  Start setting aside your change with your child, then use that little kitty to be able to afford to go to the farmers' market with him or her.  Because, she said, everyone always has a little extra change.  Well, maybe, but some have more than others.  And I'm not sure how long people with very little extra would have to save before they felt good about going to the farmers' market to buy a $4 bunch of fresh kale rather than a frozen bag at the supermarket.  And yes, some farmers' markets do take food stamps and coupons, but not all of them.

Maybe Ray isn't talking to people who really don't have the extra to afford a farmers' market.  Fine.  Then specify and make it clear that the advice isn't for everyone.

I consider myself very lucky to live in Boston and have access to Haymarket.  I love the prices, I love the variety and I love getting to know the vendors.  The produce isn't always perfect, but because I've made myself known to vendors I trust, I don't get screwed over with bad produce.  (If I did, I'd go to another vendor- ah, competition.  On that note, I also see a lot less evidence of price fixing at Haymarket than I do at some of the farmers' markets I've visited.)  No, it's not organic, but I hope most people would agree that it's better to eat produce you can afford than not eat produce you can't.

I save a lot of money on food this way, in part because I've also started buying cheeses for my family there. I mean, A LOT.  And my family is eating that much more produce.  Again, it's not organic, but it's more than we would be eating otherwise.

(FYI, Jacob comes with me to both Haymarket and farmers' markets, and that alone has not been enough to induce him to eat the produce.)

Wouldn't it be silly of me hold that EVERYONE should follow my solution because it works, at least to some extent, for me in my unique circumstances?

It's easy for me to gush about something you really love, it's another thing to say that it's going to be the solution for everyone.

Deb in the City

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