So, as many of you already know, I have three kids who are of widely separated ages. When my first child was born 30 years ago, there were no organic standards and the one organic grocery store was infested with moths. When my second child was born 15 years ago, there were organic standards and a label but barely any products that carried them. Along comes child number three around 6 years ago and there are USDA-Certified-Organic labels all over my local supermarket (not a Whole Foods). However, there are also tons of other sugary, toxic, chemical food products with animal characters and TV celebrities and bright shiny colors that appeal primarily to kids, displayed at their eye level at the store, making food-shopping with them utter hell and an exercise in saying no over and over again until one is so exhausted and depressed that one finally says yes just once, and that's how bad things come into the house.
So this time I created a game. It's a fun game that works very, very well. It's kind of like a cross between Where's Waldo and I Spy, and my little one has gotten very, very good at it. The best part is that EVERYONE is a winner! I call it Find the USDA Organic Label Game. The basic rules are, if there is anything she wants in the food store--anything at all!--if she can find the little green USDA Organic label on it, the answer is YES and she gets to put it into the cart. She has been known to hold up a box of something in the supermarket and shout really loud, "Hey, Mom! I found the Organic Label on it!" Other parents look at us with a bemused expression and shake their heads. But that's part of the fun, too. I'm teaching her to be proud of her organic choices and not to be embarrassed by them.
I know, you're probably thinking, "Well, she can afford to buy her kids anything, and organic is so expensive, and I would never let my kids just buy whatever they wanted because I wouldn't have any money left...." But the truth is, the game of finding the label becomes much more fun than begging for stuff that what she ends up actually asking for is not that much, and stuff I would have bought her anyway. The good news is the organic stuff is mostly healthy, and what she picks out I know she is more likely to eat. Plus, I will often add an additional rule, such as "only one item of candy," which limits that problem.
Try it. Let me know if it works for your kids, too. I have a feeling it will!
For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com
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