Friday, July 13, 2012

Some Food-Related Books...

I've read some very interesting books this summer that all relate to food--and three of them relate to feeding children in particular. All of these were available in my local library. Listed in order I read them, not in order of interest.

Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne

A GREAT book all the way around as far as encouraging you to reign in commitments, toys, and other cluttering items in your life. One part in particular discusses the importance of routines; the author mentions routines surrounding food as important for young children. Routines for food include relatively standard meal times/snack times, predictable menus (not the same recipe each week, but perhaps "soup night" each week), and things like that.

Child of Mine: Feeding with Love and Good Sense by Ellyn Satter

Explores how parents should (but often do not) feed their children, how to encourage children to eat more variety--particularly vegetables, and things like that. Her big push is the division of labor: parents choose when, what, and how to serve food-wise; children choose how much to eat. Much of this book is devoted to infant and toddler feeding needs/strategies/recommendations. I skipped those chapters. Worth reading, but I don't 100% agree with everything (isn't that always the case?! ☺).

French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon

Wow! This is my favorite nonfiction read of the summer (so far ☺). A Canadian woman married to a Frenchman; they decide to spend a year in Brittany near his family and their children are preschool and kindergarten ages. What follows is an unintended expose of some of the poorer North American habits and attitudes towards food (where children are concerned) and a fascinating comparison to the French attitude. Not rocket science, but very interesting and inspiring--in part because it reminded me of the general attitude toward food in Europe and so much of the rest of the world. Let's not focus so much on health, per se, but on enjoying and savoring our food rather than gobbling down "our money's worth" at an all-you-can-eat-buffet, on anticipating the next meal instead of grabbing a mediocre snack to tide us over, and on the social component of eating together. We're planning a decent afternoon snack, now, and that is the ONLY time we are eating outside of our actual meal. I've even tried the French idea of a first course that is mostly vegetable based (such as a platter of veggies and dip or a small vegetable salad or even gazpacho). And my kids ARE trying more things without complaining (and even liking things like gazpacho!!).

An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies by Tyler Cowen

Another interesting, albeit slower, read. If you, like me, enjoy reading and discussing food-related issues (everything from finding a good ethnic restaurant to musing over the seeming tension between locavores and big agribusiness to celebrating BBQ to wondering why the American food scene is the way it is...), then you will no doubt find this book interesting. As a former English teacher, I think this book might be easier to listen to; he may write well for an economist but the paucity of punctuation at times and the general writing style sometimes gets on my nerves ☺.

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