Chicago's own Oprah explored the question on today's show, "Do you know where your food comes from?"
As mothers, this is a question to which we not only need to learn the answer, but one we need to teach our kids about. With childhood obesity rates on the rise, our kids need to be given the tools to make healthier choices when it comes to their food. Taking your kids to pick their own fruit or vegetables right from an orchard shows them that their food doesn't ultimately come from the grocery store. Supporting local farmers at a farmer's market lets them see a variety of produce and often dairy and/or meats. Don't know where something comes from, or how its been handled? Just ask the farmer! Avoid the inner aisles of the supermarket that are full of processed foods that contribute to poor health.
Another great resource is the Green Earth Institute in Naperville.
While eating organic, local or all-natural often spells E-X-P-E-N-S-I-V-E for many people, it can save you money in the long run. Journalist Michael Pollan, featured on Oprah's show, says that Americans spend only 9.5% of our income on our food, less than any people who have ever lived. But we are paying the price on healthcare. "The less we spend on food, the more we spend on healthcare," he says. In 1960, 18 percent of our national income was spent on food, and only 5 percent on healthcare. Today, its 9 percent on food and 17 percent on healthcare.
Pollan has compiled his good-eating guidelines into a book called, Food Rules. Some of rules include:
- Eat only foods that will eventually rot
- Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food, or that contains ingredients a third-grader can't pronounce
- Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself
When you can't prepare your own food, consider eating at a fast food chain with a conscience. Naperville is home to a Chipotle, which serves more naturally raised meat than any other restaurant chain in the country. Steve Ells opened the first Chipotle in 1993 and vows that everything is fresh, never frozen, with the exception of corn. Their restaurants also buy produce from local family farmers in the months its available.
The Borrowed Earth Cafe in nearby Downer's Grove boasts a full raw and vegan menu, along with smoothies, teas and desserts that you can feel good about feeding your family.
While "real" food may cost more, there are often deals available - sign up for emails about specials at the Naperville Whole Foods, and check out Organic Deals for coupons on your favorite organic foods.
In the end, its cheaper to feed your kids good food now than pay the price later!
If you have any tricks of your own for making sure your kids eat well, or resources for organic deals, I'd love to hear them - share them in the comments section below!!