The soil in my back yard is full of clay and broken shells. It's rich, healthy-looking soil but it's extreme density can create an obstacle course for roots seeking water and nourishment. To give my garden the best chance of thriving this type of soil needs a little extra attention. That is why I condition it, which is also known as amending it. I prefer natural soil amendment and I've developed my own mix to suit the needs of my garden. Check this video out and I'll show you just what to do.
Sheaux Fresh Tips: Natural Fertilizing for Optimal Seedling Growth
I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone say, "My kids won't eat vegetables," or "Children just don't like healthy food." Both statements are overgeneralized. Of course children have preferences, but I believe parents do their children a great disservice by assuming that the children find most healthy, natural, nutritious abhorrent. If your child does not like getting immunized, would you allow her to skip her shots? If your child does not like school would you allow him to stay at home with you all day (without planning to homeschool)? I'm fairly sure that most parents would answer no to these questions. Yet many parents will allow their children to go days without eating a fresh piece of fruit or a vegetable with each meal. Why?
Are they negligent parents? Are they too busy to care about their childrens health and well-being? Do they lack love for their kids? Of course not! Many of my friends and family members fall into the group of parents who don't believe their children will eat what's best for them and I know that they go out of their way for their children to have the best of everything. Yet somehow, eating the best food is not a top priority.There is nothing wrong with these parents or their children. They just need a little practice and some support in making healthier food choices. Here are a few suggestions for getting your kids to eat fresh, healthy foods...and to enjoy doing it!
1. Start when they are babies. After an infant is about 6 months old, he is ready to start adding solid foods to his diet. Most families begin with rice cereal, then gradually add other cereals and strained fruits and vegetables. This is the time to get your child's palette ready for the different flavors that fruits and vegetables present. Don't be discouraged when he spits the strained squash out. It doesn't always mean he doesn't like the taste. Sometimes it's the texture. Sometimes he just wants to see your reaction. Keep trying, adding one new food per week (to watch for allergic reactions.)
2. Set the example. You are your child's first teacher. She is listening to you to learn how to talk. She is watching you to learn different mannerisms and facial expressions. She's aware of your emotions and learns to mimic them. She mimics your eating habits too! If you only eat deep fried foods with sugary drinks's, she will learn that behavior. Likewise, if she sees you enjoying fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and other minimally refined foods, her eating habits will mirror yours.
3. Make it fun. Take the kids to the market with you and allow them to choose some of the produce. Find kid friendly recipe's and let them help you prepare the meal. One of my children's favorites is the garden pizza. I buy a plain cheese pizza at the grocery store, then ask the kids to pick what they want from the garden for our pizza. I slice everything, put it on a tray and let the kids top the pizza with their choice of red onions, bell peppers, hot peppers, basil, oregano, tomatoes, eggplant, spinach, shallots, chives or whatever else they choose. They feel like they made dinner and they love eating it. Now some of their friends want to come over just to make garden pizza. If you don't have a garden just let the children pick their favorite toppings from the produce section.
4. Be creative. Sometimes it seems that no matter what you try, some children won't eat some foods. Don't give up. If your son doesn't like broccoli, try green beans. If your daughter doesn't like carrots, try spinach. Try different ways of cooking vegetables. You can steam, grill or stir-fry vegetables to maintain their bright colors, crisp texture and the best possible flavor. Try mixing veggies in with favorites like macaroni and cheese or sliced hot dogs. Make a game out of who eats the most fruit and vegetables in a week. You could even help your children grow their own food. Plants like tomatoes, peppers and strawberries grow pretty easily in traditional gardens, raised gardens and pots. They'll take great pride in growing something that can be shared with the family (or having a special fruit or vegetable just for themselves). Eating fresh, healthy food should never be a chore so make it as enjoyable as you can.
5. Shop wisely. Ten individual sized bags of chips are often cheaper than ten oranges. A gallon of punch costs much less than a gallon of 100% fruit juice. Food is becoming more expensive every day, forcing parents to make difficult choices about what they feed their kids. But there are ways to eat healthy when the budget is tight. If fresh vegetables won't fit into this months budget, try replacing canned veggies with frozen ones. Most frozen vegetables have not been cooked and contain no sodium so they are healthier than their canned counterparts. The same goes for canned fruit versus frozen fruit. If you prefer the convenience of canned fruit try to avoid those that are packaged with heavy syrup. It's all sugar. For fresh produce, try your local farmers market instead of the grocery store. The food at the farmers market usually has a shorter distance to travel so the price of gas, a truck driver and a refrigerated vehicle aren't included in the price of the produce. Of course for the biggest savings, you could try growing some of your own food.
Our Son Enjoying A Salad
This video shows a great example of what is going on with access to fresh, healthy food in many New Orleans neighborhoods. As a matter of fact, this particular report shows how difficult it can be to access any food in certain areas. In some parts of the city grocery stores are few and far between. In others they are simply non-existent. People have been waiting for years for grocery stores to return to their neighborhoods, and they have no guarantee that their waiting is not going to be in vain. So what options do these people have? They can purchase a few canned goods and some cereal at a corner store. They can walk two miles to the nearest suburban Wal-Mart to make (purchase) groceries. They can get a ride when a friend has time to bring them to the store. They can catch a cab to the store and back, spending money on transportation that may have otherwise been spent on food. How can people in these neighborhoods afford to get some of the freshest, healthiest produce available? We suggest growing as much as they can in the space they have available.
Please view this video.
On Saturday afternoon we attended the annual Old Algiers Riverfest, a fun, free event held in Algiers Point just a short walk from the Canal Street/Algies Ferry landing. As always, Algiers Riverfest offered great live music, plenty of delicious food and beautiful art, crafts, jewelry, clothing, pottery and many other items created and designed in the New Orleans metro area. As usual, we saw a few familiar faces and had the opportunity to make new acquaintances, all of whom we excited to hear about Sheaux Fresh. It was great to see people supporting local businesses.
On Sunday morning we attended a reception honoring a good friend of ours for his volunteer activities as a Tulane alumnus. The event was held at the beautiful Audubon Tea Room in Audubon Park. The weather was perfect, the banjo quartet was charming, the food was delicious and our friend gave an emotionally stirring acceptance speech. We were in excellent company and had a great time meeting new people, catching up with old acquaintances and telling everyone about Sheaux Fresh! We also learned a great deal about how other people are eating locally and farming in their own back yards. One gentleman shared how much his wife loves growing vegetables in their yard in the city and keeping bees on their farm in the country. Someone else reminisced about his childhood on a cattle and chicken farm and how much he loved fresh eggs. We even met someone who makes it a point to purchase everything she possibly can from local growers.
Unfortunately we were unable to attend the New Orleans Food Co-op's Paint Party, but we will definitely make it a point to support their next event.
At some point in elementary school most of us learned the meanings of the words carnivore, herbivore and omnivore. I'm willing to bet that no one ever heard of a locavore. A locavore is a person who eats food that was grown locally. More and more people are discovering the benefits of eating locally grown foods. Before the rise of interstate highways, cross-country shipping and refrigerated trucks, most people had to eat food that was grown within 100 miles of their home. Local eating was not a trend. It was a simple fact of life. Now that life as we know it is no longer so simple, most of us are accustomed to purchasing grapes from Chile, oranges from Florida, beef from Texas and milk from Wisconsin. It's normal for us to have a basket full of groceries from 17 states and 6 countries, making it equally normal for us to have a basket full of highly processed/preserved food.
Studies have proven that less processed foods are generally healthier than more processed foods and many people are making an effort to seek out fresher, healthier foods. The best way to get fresher, healthier foods is to purchase food that does not have to travel a great distance to reach your local market. In most cases the closer you live to the source of your food, the less preservation it will require to be edible when you purchase it.
If you aren't really concerned with the health risks associated with excessive preservation, maybe you'll be interested in the possible cost benefits of purchasing locally grown foods. If you purchase vegetables grown on a farm 40 miles from your home, you will probably pay for the cost of the vegetables, the gas that the farmer used to drive into town and the market fee. If you purchase vegetables from thousands of miles away, the cost is likely to include packaging for frozen or canned foods, refrigeration/freezing, gasoline for long-distance travel, wages for truck drivers and plant employees and anything else that is involved in keeping your food edible as it makes its way to your pantry. Have you noticed how food prices are increasing? That's directly related to the increasing price of gasoline? Food that doesn't have to travel so far requires less gasoline and will often cost less.
If improved health and better prices haven't gotten your attention, may the environmental issues around our nations food purchasing habits will. Shipping food over long distances requires large amounts of gasoline. Freezing and refrigerating food over long periods of time requires large amounts of electricity. All of this can be avoided by purchasing as much locally grown food as you can. You could even take another step and try growing some of your own food? What could be more local than your own backyard, courtyard or balcony?So why not try being a locavore? It's generally better for your health, easier on your wallet, better for the environment.
For more information on being a locavore, check out the following...
Go Green Nola: Eat Local Challenge
Eat Local Challenge