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The Food Poet says about us.


Milestones and victories.

If you know me well, you know that my love affair with food didn't begin as such. No, no.. it started like this.

Parent #1: “Hmmm.. It's time for Pixie to start eating real food.”

Parent #2: “Ok, what do we feed her?”

Parent #1: “Well this says to give her baby food..”

2 hrs. later

“Oh my gosh! Do you know how much baby food is??!!” Receipt flung from purse onto the counter in front of Parent #2's then, gaping eyes.

Within minutes I started looking up ways to make baby food. And within hours, I realized that the ingredients on homemade recipes were nothing like the ingredients on the back of the baby food jars. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was reading the ingredient lists for other foods in our fridge and cupboard (yes, I said cupboard – makes me sound old-timey or crafty or something, I think ;). At first, I regarded my spice rack (just one spice rack.. and most of the spices were crusty blocks of, well, I don't actually know what they were) with trepidation. What if I used the wrong one? What if I didn't measure exactly ¼ tsp? What if I didn't have ____ ? Ahhh, our dinner would be ruined!! Then Parent #2 (he wasn't Farmer-Man back then) would bust into the kitchen and dump a whole bunch of whatever spices were carefully lined up on the counter into my perfectly measured bowl of ingredients! Ahhh – again! Now dinner was surely ruined – he didn't even use a measuring spoon! Alas, it wasn't long before I realized that dinner was, sometimes, irreversibly ruined.. but, sometimes it wasn't. That encouraged me to try new things; to begin a couple dinners without recipes; to consider the crazy possibility of experimenting!


One thing led to another, and today I am the wild and care-free woman you see before you – fearless (except when it comes to baking, and then I pray every step of the perfectly measured recipe) with one part distracted (because I manage to come up with an idea that I absolutely-must-try-at-that-moment with hungry children attached to all my appendages) and two parts curious whimsy. I like to walk on the wild side like that.


Anyway, I digress. This month is a milestone because it was this month three years ago that I took my next big leap of (cooking) faith - and threw away all our bought flour. In a fit of, “Parent #2, Pixie's allergies test came back and she's allergic to everything,” I jumped head first off the cliff of normal person into “I'm going to make everything from scratch beginning this moment.”


And that's how I got to be so weird. It's true. So that's my milestone.


But when Hurricane (hooligan #2) started eating (real) food, I tripped over that freakin' milestone and landed flat on my face. Whereas Pixie would eat, experiment, roll between her fingers, smell, smear lovingly across her chest any food that I had so carefully prepared for her, Hurricane, well he didn't. Instead, just because he was a little person and I was (wait, I am) a big person, he decided that he wouldn't – eat, smell, smear, whatever, he wasn't having any of that. Let's just say that he's turning 4. And while I am super grateful that he loves breakfast and lunch (sometimes/ most of the time?), he has been on dinner strike for a little over 2 1/2 years. Um, what? Yes, I love cooking, and I'm pretty decent at it, and my son won't eat dinner. Grrrhhhrhrh! So what's a mama to do? Well, apparently I've been doing the same thing for about 2 1/2 years, and I'm only now seeing some relief (so you may or may not actually want to take my advice ;). This is where the victory part comes in... I let my son maintain his dinner strike. No really. I made dinner, every night (ok, some nights we went out – which he ate.. grrrhrhrh), and if he didn't want dinner, I didn't make him eat it. And I didn't offer him anything to substitute it.


This article I posted today on FB said it wayyy more succinctly then I have. The author has several really great points – 2 of which I will reiterate, and 1 more that I would add:


#1 Little minions cannot eat what's not in your home. Which, let's get real, after the 5th day (week, month...) of Hurricane not eating his dinner, I got frustrated and very seriously considered caving to the (2-year old) peer pressure. But, since most of what I had was pretty healthy anyway, he didn't care. While this is very hard to do all at once (in my opinion, going into your pantry and discarding all the crappy foods is not very wise – you'll probably binge shop tomorrow), try removing those yuckies one at a time. Choose one thing that you know you shouldn't be eating: do a quick google search on the ingredients; gasp; throw away empty bag (you probably ate it while you were reading the ingredients anyway); and don't buy again. Then do the same thing with another product next week – or maybe next month. Take a step – even a baby step is better than no steps.


#2 Get reinforcement: You, your partner, and any small bi-ped (older siblings are sooo good at this) should be enlisted to ooh and ahh and mmmm all the way through any meal that may be questionable to your picky eater. I can't tell you how many times Pixie's expressive excitement has been contagious! (Word to the wise: dogs should not be used as examples for enjoying their or your meals – or you may have your little one feeding your 4-legged one his dinner while he eats dried kibbles.. just trust me on this one.)


Added point: Let them help you cook – as much as you can, however you can, even when it means that you have extra salad dressing (because a little drool never hurt anyone). Several weeks ago Hurricane asked if he could help me make dinner (for the first time in his life). Heart fluttering, trying to act cool, I said (screeched), “OF COURSE! Yes, come right in! Here's a chair and an apron – I'm soooo happy you're here!!!” Anyway, he made dinner with me – and then for the first time in memory, he ate dinner. Two servings of dinner. It was fish and savory oats groats. Over a bed of greens. And he's been eating dinner a couple times a week since. Victory!


Blessings to you and your's for 2014!!

As I shed 2013 to step into the unknown that is 2014, I can't help but review what's monopolized my time this year: food and hooligans. We all have something that we do, something that we love, something that makes us unique, something that we share of ourselves, something that makes us feel alive. I've been blessed to have found that something at a really young age and to have loved ones to support my journey. And it sounds silly sometimes, especially when I think about our culture, where many of us are surrounded by enough to fill our bellies (and even often to waste!). For my family, food is how Farmer Man and I teach our children (and ourselves) to use less, to give more often, to live gently on this great, big earth. And, obviously, because it's so important, it makes me very aware that there are so many on this great, big earth that will go to sleep tonight hungry. Children, just like mine, except they won't know when or if they will have another meal. And that, my friends, is exceptionally overwhelming.


After all, I am one person. My family is young. I don't have a lot of time, and I definitely don't have the resources to feed the world. Sometimes when I feel as though there is too much to do, the need is too great, the hurt is too deep, I shut down. Because I know, I can't change the world today, at this moment. It is beyond my capability. And then I remember something (well, actually so many things come to mind) my mom taught me: If you're standing still, you can't be directed to the right or the left; forward or backward. You are just blocking the path. But if you are moving, you can move in any direction; whether you know which way to go, you can always turn around. And so I move. Sometimes a lot, sometimes at a crawl; sometimes I stop, and then I remember to keep moving. So tonight as I move, planning a special dinner to celebrate a new time, the handful of traditions that we practice with our hooligans, I also dream.


I dream of a world where food security is not determined by the size of your bank account, but rather it is guaranteed because you are a living creature. You see I dream big. Like most of you, I'm busy, so if I'm going to do anything, I'm going to make it worth my while. With one fat, happy toddler laying across my chest, and the other two engrossed downstairs in a (gasp!) movie, I find myself dreaming :) While I can't change everything, I can make a difference for the people, the person I come in contact with every day: my neighbors; classmates; the local store clerk. While I can't donate a year's worth of groceries to a needy family, there are so many things I can do to keep moving;


There was a time when I thought, “How is composting going to save the world? How is my little garden going to impact future generations? I don't even have a green thumb.” I once had a friend who listened to my feeble excuse of, “It's hibernating for the winter” to describe a withered houseplant (to which she replied, “Oh, that's what we're calling it?.”). But friends, we are changing the world. All of us. With what we do, with how we move. Because that stinky compost heap becomes soil for next year's garden; it provides veggies for families like mine who have been unexpectedly blessed and inspired during times when my plants “hibernated for the winter.” That thing you do, the way you move, whatever it is (cooking, cleaning, organizing, gardening, typing, donating, time...), it can bless one person; and that person can bless someone else.


So as we enter 2014, friends, Dad and I encourage you to keep moving. To do what you do and bless someone, even if it is small – it's probably much more significant then you know. We'd love to hear in our comments how someone has blessed you this year!


And speaking of moving, if you or someone you know would be blessed by a good meal, we'd love to gift you a meal kit and fresh veggies (locally provided by Full Moon Farms and Veribest Farm in Athens and Mother Earth Produce is Asheville and Greenville) for your meal. The first 4 people in Athens (GA) and the first 4 people in Asheville (NC) or Greenville (SC) to message us privately will receive some lovin'. Please just let us know how many people are in your household. This will be honor-based as we hope to reach those who truly need it.

Meal Kits provided by Mana In Our Foods

Veggies in Athens generously donated by Full Moon Farms and Veribest Farm.

Veggies in Asheville and Greenville generously donated by Mother Earth Produce.