When my son was a baby, I genuinely believed that I could raise him to be a child who loves vegetables. I wasn’t entirely delusional; I knew it would be difficult to pull off. I was working against heredity, after all. I myself was a picky eater as a child, and to this day my relationship with vegetables is complicated. I’ve only recently come to like broccoli, tomatoes and I have an on-and-off affair, and I won’t eat a beet with someone else’s mouth. Yet still I was unwavering in my conviction – the boy would NOT follow in my own, vitamin-deficient, footsteps.
My campaign against veggie-prejudice began the moment my son was ready for solid foods. I voraciously scoured the city’s farmers markets and co-ops in search of nature’s finest produce. Once procured, I lovingly roasted, steamed and pulverized it into mush. My kitchen transformed into an organic baby food factory as I spent evening after evening dutifully hunched over a food processer. And initially my efforts seemed to pay off, as he gobbled the vegetable mush with gusto. He relished daring combinations: parsnips and apple, pumpkin and peas, even carrot and rutabaga. We routinely and lovingly scrubbed green bean puree out of his ears, nose, hair and baby chin fat. I’d done it! My god, I had done it! My dogged determination would be rewarded with a veggie-lovin’ toddler!
How very wrong I was.
One seemingly innocent McNugget was all it took. There was no turning back. So now, dear friends, I submit to you the following list of items by almost three-year-old would prefer to put in his mouth over a vegetable:
- Goldfish crackers
- any combination of pasta and cheese
- fuzz from the floor
- nuggets, chicken
- nuggets, fish
- nuggets, other
- sippy cup of apple juice found under the entertainment center (aged two days, yielding earthy, complex aromas and a pleasant midpalate acidity)
- Oreo cookies, frosting only
- 2-ply Charmin, 1 square
- Cheerios harvested from between sofa cushions (preliminary results from carbon-dating indicate age of 3 – 6 months)
- Cat hair, fresh-plucked from unsuspecting family cat
- His own boogers