Something we were worried about when we were contemplating going local was how our son would handle the loss of some of his favorite foods. When we began this adventure he was approaching five years old and had clearly established tastes and preferences for particular foods. As we examined our cupboards, countertops, and refrigerator, several items stood out as potential challenges. A few of those that we remember include ketchup, bananas, and peanut butter. What child doesn’t love these three comfort foods?
For us, these foods provide examples of three different ways in which we have dealt with a non-local food item. We decided to deal with our non-local ketchup by simply making our own. We painstakingly ran pound after pound of tomatoes through a food mill to make our first batch of ketchup. Seven pounds of tomatoes as well as onions, garlic, and a variety of other ingredients yielded a meager four cups. When presented with the opportunity to try this batch, our son claimed it was far too spicy and didn’t taste like ketchup as he knew it at the time. Undeterred, we made another batch. This one was less spicy and surprisingly our son liked it immediately. Today he has become so used to this ketchup that he favors it over ketchup from the store. We consider this to be one of our greatest successes in pleasing the palate of our child.
Bananas. You just can’t make a banana out of local ingredients. At this point, we have not given up bananas. They are far too valuable in their gift of adding a smooth texture to our daily smoothie and far too flavorful in adding sweetness to baked goods. As a result, they have remained a constant on our (hopefully ever shrinking) list of non-local foods. Our son has been spared from suffering a loss of one of his favorites.
At first it might seem cruel to deprive a child of peanut butter. Afterall, what is childhood without peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? We did some research hoping that we might discover that there are peanuts being grown in California. As far as we can determine, however, all domestic peanuts are grown in either Texas or Georgia. We made the tough decision to eliminate peanut butter from our kitchen. Our saving grace is almond butter. As it turns out, almond butter is extraordinarily tasty and healthier than its peanut cousin. Despite all that almond butter has going for it, we were still worried that the transition would be tough for a five-year old. One morning at the breakfast table, his toast showed up with a different topping. His initial reaction was not favorable. We braced ourselves for a struggle but stuck with the plan. Amazingly, after about a week of protest, our son announced that he actually preferred almond butter to peanut butter. Now the existence of peanut butter seems to be forgotten and almond butter spoons are the norm.
These experiences have provided us with some unexpected benefits. We have learned that our son is more adaptable than we had originally thought, and, as a result of witnessing our son’s positive response to consistency, we have gained confidence that we can make changes in other aspects of our parenting.