Eat Your Veggies: An Interview with an Expert (my mom)
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Caveat: despite the above intro, I do not actually have children. But I grew up eating vegetables. Lots and lots of vegetables. So I decided to ask an expert, my mom, how she got all of us 5 kids to grow up to eat our veggies.
Suebob: What were your secrets for getting us to love vegetables?
Mom: Well, everyone didn’t always like vegetables. I got a face full of peas a couple times. (Mimes a toddler blowing out a mouthful of food). Ick.
Suebob: Yeah, there were always things some of us didn’t like…
Mom: Like Laura and her sweet potatoes.
Suebob: Oh, yeah, I remember.
Mom: (this is a story I have heard approximately 1000 times) I TOLD the school she would not eat sweet potatoes and that they should not try to give them to her. But that teacher made her eat them. And you know what she did? She threw up right there at the lunch table. Well, they didn’t listen, so that’s what happens.
Suebob: But we did eat a lot of vegetables.
Mom: We couldn’t always afford meat. So we had to do something else. We had cheese, we had macaroni, we had vegetables. It was only later that we got to have meat all the time.
(She fails to mention that, because we lived by the ocean, other diet staples were California lobsters, abalone and scallops. Dad had a rowboat and lobster traps and friends who SCUBAed. So it could have been worse).
Suebob: But we always had veggies.
Mom: Yes, Dad and I grew up eating them. So we just always put them on the table and we liked them.
Suebob: I remember eating asparagus and artichokes from the time I was very little. I had lunch the other day with a friend who is 40 and who had never eaten an artichoke.
Mom: Imagine that! But those were treats! They were kind of expensive, so they were for special occasions.
Suebob: Yes, you always made a big deal out of them. Maybe that’s why I liked them so much. To this day, I’d rather eat asparagus than ice cream.
Mom: You were always a little strange that way. You would never eat a hamburger, either. You’d rather eat nothing than a hamburger.
Suebob: That is still the case. (I have been a vegetarian since 1986).
Mom: But we offered a lot of different kinds of veggies made different ways. Sometimes just raw and sliced up, sometimes sauteed or steamed. Back when I used to boil the heck out of things but I realized that isn’t good for the flavor or for the vitamins, so I was happy to find that bamboo Chinese steamer basket.
Suebob: Did we always have a big garden?
Mom: You know your dad. He loved to fool around growing things.
Suebob: The first thing he did when you bought a house was to plant a giant garden.
Mom: That was the best time. We loved being out there with all those plants and fruit trees, picking our own strawberries and watermelons.
Suebob: So what would your advice be to parents who want their kids to grow up eating vegetables and fruits?
Mom: You have to have them there on the table, every day. They have to see you eating them. Eat together so you can talk and enjoy the company. This eating in front of the TV is terrible.
Suebob: Anything else?
Mom: Yes. Learn to cook. It’s not so hard to peel a vegetable and to cook it, but people act like if it doesn’t come from a package, they don’t know what to do. They’ll eat all this junk but complain because vegetables are too expensive. Well, potato chips are $4 a bag. You save a lot of money if you just learn five or ten meals you know how to cook and can do over and over. I’m not a good cook. I never was, but nobody ever starved.
Suebob: And we all grew up eating lots of fruits and vegetables.
Mom: Thank goodness for that.