Izzy (and Mama) Eat: The Gourmand Grows up...

Tales of Empty Nesting ...The Next Chapter

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Green Expectations (or The Many Shades Of Green)

"Green" conjures up images of many things. From the choices we make in the way we live, to the vibrant colors of the many wonderful vegetables we eat. Today green was all of those things and then some. It was also a green I'd rather forget: Namely, green gobs of frosting on cookies that Izzy was eating. Of course I prefer to think of the former but can't get my mind off the latter. In some way, they are intertwined.

In small ways we try to raise Izzy "green" given the environment in which we live. This means doing things like hanging our laundry on the line (weather permitting), living without a/c most of the summer and walking or taking public transportation whenever possible. Every little bit helps. Izzy helps recycle and it certainly helps that his school encourages that as well. Izzy's "sculpture" creations, made from discarded food packaging (what packaging is recycled is another story, don't even ask what ingredients are listed in the package below) are just one way he is learning to be "green".

We also try to guide him towards selecting earth-friendly toys (apparently not a guarantee of anything) and he is fortunate to have many handmade ones like the ferry above, made by his Grandpa T.

Most importantly, if you read this blog you know, being "green" greatly influences how we shop and eat. Our major efforts towards being "green" are certainly concentrated in the food realm. We try to eat local, organic foods whenever possible. It is my wish to instill in Izzy, a lifelong love and respect for healthy, delicious foods. This afternoon, I prepared an organic green-split pea soup, made with local or organic vegetables. It may not have been the most beautiful pale shade of green, but topped with sauteed leeks (more green), it was warming and nutritious on a cold, rainy night.

In the late afternoon, while the pea soup simmered on the stove, I took Izzy to join his classmates for a small holiday celebration. The children were offered cookies with gobs of green frosting and small green Christmas trees. Not wishing to be a Grinch, I allowed him to indulge, knowing full well what the aftermath might be.

I tried to be festive but couldn't help but be disturbed. Why were they being fed food dye and why the color green?

Food dyes have been consistently shown to cause hyperactivity in children. Current research continues to confirm this. It is truly best to steer clear of them if at all possible. There are organic dyes available and certainly other ways to be festive.

Secondly, why the choice of color. Is green the seasonal color? Not if you celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Diwali. Not that another color would have been healthier but how about equal opportunity dyes?

As I mulled over these thoughts, it came as no surprise when Izzy and his friends turned from chattering children to rolling, romping creatures, piling up on one another, causing the parents and teachers to reign in their behavior, caused in part, by the foods they were served.

I was more than happy to take Izzy home for his dinner. Hopefully the green split pea soup would be both nourishing and calming.

I continue to ponder how challenging it is to be "green" here in lovely, toxic, Jersey City. It is especially difficult when not everyone shares the same mindset. Learning to eat better is one way to counteract the negative effects of our environment, as we live in the shadow of the Holland Tunnel. We all do not have the opportunity to raise our children on a farm, as this amazing woman does but we do have a chance to teach our children about good greens and bad.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I too have a bone to pick with my child consuming rainbow colored food products. Just a note about Go-gurt:

Go-Gurt: A Healthy Treat?
I was at the grocery store recently, and I started looking at mother nature's perfect food "Go-Gurt". I'm assuming that the name means yogurt for people on the go. Yoplait makes it, and Go-Gurt primarily marketed to kids.
Clever or Deceptive?
First of all, in the ingredients list at the bottom, see how sugar isn't the first ingredient? Well, an unsuspecting parent may think of that as a good thing, but they cleverly used two different sweeteners. If they'd only used one sweetener though, sugar be the first ingredient. Clever huh.
More Sugar than Coca-Cola
With regards to sugars. Coca-Cola has 3.25 grams of sugars per ounce. Go-Gurt has 4.89 grams of sugars per ounce.
Go-Gurt Ingredients
I thought I'd post these because they seem hard to find on the internet. Yoplait didn't make them very easy to find on their site.

* Cultured Pasteurized Grade A Milk
* Sugar
* Nonfat Milk
* High Fructose Corn Syrup
* Modified Corn Starch
* Kosher Gelatin
* Tricalcium Phosphate
* Potassium Sorbate (preservative)
* Carrageenan
* Natural And Artificial Flavor
* Carmine (a food additive for coloring, to make it you have to boil dried insects in water to extract the carminic acid)