Family Values: Food
If there is one thing that attending festivals, gatherings, rituals whether private or public has taught me about the Pagan community is that: we LOVE food. We strive to worship this earth, and consume the wonderful bounty that it graces us with. Nurturing your child’s relationship to food is pivotal in their development. Food weaves through almost every part of our lives our social relations, our relationship with the earth and our relationship and feelings towards our heath and body. Eating together whether in ritual or family settings can be so rewarding and fulfilling. It should be a high priority for every family since we have to eat in order to live and it usually happens at least three times a day. Our culture has made eating, cooking and growing food into something that needs to be fast and convenient but as Pagans we celebrate with food, we try and be reverent of food, so should we promote this culture of frozen dinners, microwaves and drive-through consumption or should we strive to move in rhythm with the earth, eating seasonally and having a relationship with what we choose to put in our bodies?
Children emulate what they see not what they are told. So if we tell them the earth is sacred and that the fall bounty is a gift to us and then leave them rarely seeing, let alone consuming a vegetable in its “from the ground state” what sort of values do you think they’ll develop regarding food? I would guess that they’d pick a burger and fries over a garden salad and chicken breast any day. Most children go through a picky eater stage and we can indulge that with letting them only eat jello and drink soda or we can set an example and present them with ways to change their feelings, ideas and interaction with food so that they move past the picky stage with healthy and grounded eating habits. Below you’ll find ideas for helping your kids (and yourselves) have a positive and reverent attitude towards what you eat. I’ve included links and hope that you will challenge yourself to make this value one that is fundamental to your family’s present and future. Don’t worry if you have hiccups or days when the family indulges in some bad habits, no one is perfect and it is hard to completely remove habits that have developed around food. Just take small steps, introduce different foods slowly and keep trying even if there is resistance. Habits take a while to break and the more relaxed but dedicated you are the more likely the positive results will start happening.
Whether you have a big backyard or a city balcony; grow something with your kids. Herbs, strawberries, green beans, they are more likely to eat it if they’ve invested time and energy into planting a seed, watering it and watching it grow.
Besides having a fantastic family atmosphere farmer’s markets allow your child to meet the people growing their food. This can open up discussions about country living versus city living, taking care of animals and plants, seasonal changes in the earth and it is also a wonderful place to meet your neighbours and participate in the community at large.
Many farms offer a u-pick option which is often not only more economical but a great way to experience your food. Your child sees the fields, the farmer, the plant in its living state and then gets to pull, pick and harvest the food that you will later eat.
The whole family should cook together when possible. Learning to cook is an indispensable skill for your kids it will greatly affect how they think about and interact with their food. They can set the table, fill the water jug, just get them involved in the process somehow and as they get older they can help more and more. It is even a good idea to have them help with meal planning so that they see what is involved in the process.
Another fun activity is to make jams, pickles, or tomato sauce together. This can be time consuming but you can always make it a more community minded project pooling time and resources with other families. Your kids will taste the difference in a sauce they made during the summer months and they can feel proud of their part in making food for the family to enjoy together.
The statistics prove that it makes kids happier and healthier. And you can really enjoy each other as well as the meal you’ve created together. Perhaps some activities need to be sacrificed to make it happen but making this a priority in your family will benefit everyone.
Taking a moment before you eat to honour the cycle that brought the food to your table will give your children a sense of gratefulness and reverence for the process they participated in.
During your celebrations this spring and summer and throughout the wheel of the year may you and yours eat well, feel well and honour the earth with your choices about food. I’ve included a few more resources that you and your family may find helpful in making the myriad of decisions around what to consume, how to consume it, and where to find what you are looking for.