Sitting at the kid table with Clemmie, Isa and Andre last night, trying to get them to eat their organic vegetarian dinners. I read (most of) The Omnivore’s Dilemma recently and promptly signed up for the Full Belly Farms weekly vegetable box, which I’m supposed to pick up from the front porch of a cute shingled craftsman on Vernon Street near Clem’s school on Wednesdays. It seemed so perfect: it’s not an extra trip for me so no one would be wasting gas on that last part of the delivery. And the stuff’s all grown on the farm, nothing trucked in from Mexico or Chile or wherever, all organic in the hippy, non-corporate sense of the word. But the first two weeks I completely forgot to pick up the box. You would think I could remember this stuff: Wednesdays it’s Sound of the Week (today we’re bringing figs because its F day) at Clem’s school, swimming lessons in the afternoon, and pick up the goddamn organic box on the way to swim lessons. Swim lessons we seem to be able to handle, but we completely missed A through E (E was Chris’s fault – I got the edamame out and had it ready to go but he didn’t take it when he dropped her off) and 2 entire loads of our pre-paid veggies got donated to a homeless shelter or something. Which is fine, great even. Maybe I can take it off on my taxes (just kidding, jeez.) Except that now Chris is on a campaign to get me to cancel the Full Belly Farms since it’s been kind of a waste for us.
So I swore to cook and eat everything that came in the box this last week. It’s Wednesday again so there’s another one coming today (if I remember) so it’s a mad scramble to use it all up. The corn we ate pretty quickly, and it was excellent for this late in the season. The basil went into pesto this weekend. That left spinach, bok choi, tomatoes, turnips, and buttercup squash. So last night I made a tomato pie with a leftover pie crust (Safeway brand, not organic, not remotely healthy) from the freezer and more basil from the garden, and I roasted the turnips and the squash. I thought it was a pretty good meal. The kids did not. They sat there and stared at their plates with the saddest looks on their faces. You would think I had just flushed their parakeet down the toilet. They weren’t posturing for something else or trying to manipulate me into giving them candy for dinner, they just seemed genuinely depressed by the colorful slop on their plates. Clemmie seemed embarrassed by the whole thing and tried to salvage the evening by leading the other two kids in 30 or 40 rounds of Wheels on the Bus sung at a dramatic volume. I ended up pathetically selling them on the pie crust, which they then all had at least a few bites of. And Andre and Clem each found bits of cheese that had not been sullied by the evil tomato.
There was a great article in the New Yorker last month (or a few months ago, can’t recall) about the woman who Alice Waters brought in to revamp the Berkeley school lunch program. Long story short: she got rid of the toxic waste crap they were serving and started making delicious healthy food, and the kids hated it and wouldn’t eat it. They sent her hate mail, or depressed mail to be more accurate. It was heartbreaking.
The truth is Clem is a pretty good eater overall. Our other recent veggie dinner with beans, zucchini squash from the garden and the aforementioned pesto was a big hit with her. And she loves things like sushi. But she is still a three year old and given the choice, three year olds always seem to want macaroni and cheese.