More obstacles to gardening: Family members


She’s her daddy’s girl (she hates tomatoes) but she’s her mama’s girl too (she keeps trying to like them)

Ali asked me about how my wacky vegetables are received, because her husband doesn’t appreciate her Black Krim tomatoes on looks alone. (To be fair, I believe it was George Carlin who once said that the insides of tomatoes are somehow stuck in pupal stage: the darned things just don’t look, uh, done yet, and that might be people’s biggest hurdle in eating them.) Well, no secret here to those who know him, but MY husband is probably one of the bigger gardening obstacles out there. His food issues are legion. Since he married me, thankfully, these issues are at least not growing in number.

So, how goes the skirret, El? How did you get your toddler to eat beets, or frisee? How did you persuade that husband to try cardoon? What tricks did you employ to make Brussels sprouts and kohlrabi palatable to a two-year-old’s palate? How is it your three-year-old became a thief of peas?

Exposure. Exposure, and a really tough stance as the cook: This is all I’m serving, so you better eat it.

To be honest, really young children are simply amazingly curious, and turning them loose in the garden is one fabulous way to nurture this intrinsic curiosity. She helps me plant the things, is the quick answer; she helps me harvest them, too. She helps with preparation (within reason: she will quite readily gorge herself on cucumbers or green beans so that she’s got no room for dinner). So kids (in my book) are easy. I have never made or served “baby food” to the kid. She has always eaten what we eat, hot and spicy or rich and creamy or, dang it all, crunchy. No babying the baby here!

Tom, though, is a puzzle. There are so many rules. So I have attacked this problem with a counteroffensive of my own rules. You must eat at least two bites of it is rule one. You must never show your distaste for it in front of the kid is rule two. In compromise, I will try to mix things up or mask them heavily with garlic if I think they will be offensive to him. (Garlic and salt are great levelers in this household.) And I promise to never serve a raw tomato.

7 responses to “More obstacles to gardening: Family members

  1. I actually have a household of picky eaters (It’s in Eric’s genes I swear!) Eric could eat cereal 24/7 when we met (was, in fact). He’s gotten better, and the kids are slowly getting worse as they age. Aden used to eat pretty much everything from the garden, but now she puts her nose up to most of it. (and can you guess what she wants all the time? Cereal!) And Ethan used to be my little everything eater and now he too is getting picky. Although he will at least try everything offered. And they all hate garlic and onions and anything flavorful….yeah, it’s FUN trying to cook for this brood sometimes. But, with their allergies, it’s often wise not to press it. Eric has a huge aray of food allergies, as does his entire family and the first sign of the allergy is a complete dislike for the food. So….
    But, I have noticed there is wayyyy more interest in veg when the kids can actually be out in the garden tasting it, plucking it from the ground. Hopefully I can influence their tastes by continual exposure, and just the pure magic the garden presents.

  2. Way to go with avoiding the baby food trap. It is so wrong that our society pushes factory food products on kids from the start. We never gave our daughter any either, she eats what we eat. Or tries it at least, though sometimes we have to make her an egg instead –an egg from “her” chickens, of course. I think she ate all our peas last year, right out of the garden. She won’t touch them cooked though.

  3. That is one cute little kiddo!

    So far my aversion to spicy food and eggplant makes me the pickiest eater in this house, though we’ve yet to experience feeding a kid.

    Last summer we had a picnic and my friend’s four-year old spent the whole time in the garden, with the rule that he had to come ask us before he ate anything he didn’t recognize. He would come get us and lead us to some particular tomato vine or baby cucumber and ask, “Meg and Kelly, can I EAT THIS?” while doing that little kid I’m-so-excited-I-need-to-jump-up-and-down thing. When we fed him nasturtium flowers he nearly lost his mind.

  4. My husband is the proclaimed “I don’t eat raw tomatoes” type. But over the last couple of years I have brought him around to where he at least likes fresh tomato salsa, and panzanella salad. Just don’t put a slice of fresh tomato on his burger!

  5. Funny, all my years in Europe I never once encountered a picky eater – adult or child. No raw tomatoes??? – that’s bizarre beyond my comprehension. On the other hand, I never met anyone who would have proudly called themselves a “foodie”. Twin compulsions toward infantilism and manic conspicuous self-consciousness? Food choices as identity? It all makes me nauseous. I think as Americans we’re predisposed to be unable to simply enjoy (or dislike) anything, quietly and discreetly.

  6. Aww cute kiddo! I would imagine kids are easier than husbands when it comes to food. That, in itself, is highly ironic.

  7. Angie: Keep up the good work with the kids. I hear you on the allergies issue: there probably really is something to the idea that if they’re avoiding something, it might be for their own good. But, as you know, left to their own devices, it would be cereal all the time, like your poor husband! So! Time to be the Tough Mom.

    Rob: The one thing parenting has taught me is that so much of child development is cyclical, and that includes eating preferences. I nearly cried when the kid said she didn’t like eggs. Well, that passed in about a week! But yeah, I just didn’t see the logic to getting her hooked on processed food (even something as supposedly benign as “baby food”). About as far as we went with that was tofu, which she still loves. Does what I did mean I got an adventurous eater as a result? I am not sure, but I hope so.

    Meg: Great work! And wasn’t it FUN? (I’ve had to kind of tone down her love of eating flowers, as our other gardens are filled with nonedibles: she can go nuts with the veg garden’s borage or nasturtiums or violets, though.)

    Kelli: I have done the same thing too to great success! Salsa is somehow quite okay if it’s chopped up really well. And at least my daughter keeps TRYING to like tomatoes.

    Ah Teem. As you well know our country’s stupid emphasis of INDIVIDUALISM has of course obscured all that is really important, so people can gladly flag-wave their food-ism as an indicator of how specially special they truly are. I wouldn’t say that was the case with Tom: an overworked undereducated single mother was his issue; she didn’t encourage experimentation. I don’t know what to do with Tom, though. I tell him in half jest that my next husband will have no food issues. And you know me: I will (within reason) eat anything, though I do profess a certain aversion to some body parts. Until I taste them that is. We need to go to Journeyman. I had a bit of duck liver and just about DIED. And true to form I was neither quiet nor discreet about it, either.

    Katie: You’re quite right of course. The Old Dog rule!

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