Most bloggers get negative comments from time to time, but up til now I have been fortunate to have tremendously kind and respectful commenters. In the flurry of extra visitors to my blog in the last few days, I have gotten many kind and encouraging notes, both on the blog and to me privately. Thanks to each of you. I hope that you will feel welcome here.
There have been a few that have left me feeling a bit ruffled– insinuating that in keeping our food costs low, I might be somehow depriving my children or feeding them subpar food. I only have to look at a plate of food at an average dinner to know that our diet is varied, healthy, and delicious. And yet in trying to understand where the negative commenters might be coming from, I got to thinking about what we really owe our family when it comes to feeding them.
Certainly we owe them enough nutritious food to grow and thrive. A casual glance through the grocery store tells me that there aren’t many folks in America suffering from too few calories, my kids included. They’re all normal weight, healthy kids, who are loaded with energy. At the moment they’re outside eating popsicles, juice dripping down their arms.
(Some people would diss me for feeding my kids popsicles– the sugar! The food coloring! I maintain that popsicles are a lovely addition to childhood summer memories, food coloring be hanged.)
But just what do we OWE our kids? Slabs of steak? Chicken nuggets? Organic everything? Meals at expensive restaurants every week? Pizza every night? There are almost as many answers as there are families, but in general I am pretty comfy letting folks make the choices for their own kids.
As a mom, I work to expose my kids to a wide variety of healthy food. Not only do I want them to be healthy– I also want them to be comfortable no matter what is offered to them in the future. I don’t want them to be crippled by a myriad of ‘I hate it’ foods. I want them to have good table manners so that they will be able to eat a meal any place and not embarrass themselves or others.
My kids gobble Korean-style sushi and Ethiopian-style flatbread with great pleasure, as well as vegetables like cabbage and brussel sprouts and broccoli that many people don’t learn to enjoy til adulthood. But I don’t see a thing wrong with serving casseroles and pasta and rice and other simple hearty foods as well. I would never want my children to go somewhere and turn their nose up at a simple dish of lentils.
In fact, my husband and I talk with our children about the many people in the world who aren’t privileged to have the high standard of living that we do in America. People who’ve never seen the huge array of selection in a Western-style grocery store. People who’ve never owned a freezer, let alone seen one filled with pounds and pounds of beef and chicken like mine happens to be at the moment.
There’s another side to not going overboard at the grocery store as well. It is freedom of choice. In reality John and I could probably afford to buy steak a little more often. (OK, I’ll be honest–if the beef industry was dependent on my steak purchases, it would have collapsed long ago. Hamburger is a different story!) But by not buying steak and lots of meals out and boatloads of prepackaged food, we free up our grocery money for other things.
Things like time to play on the beach with our kids. Big Christmases (every year we swear we’re not going overboard, but every year we do anyway!) Compassion kids. And most recently, a swimming pool. Just ask my kids if they’d rather have steak or a swimming pool. I dare you.
Even IF we could afford to ‘have it all’, I’m not convinced that $50 is better spent on steak when there are children all over the world desperate to go to school. What do we owe our children anyway? And just who are ‘our’ children?
My family is fortunate that our frugality is not born from true desperation. And I am convinced that by spending money wisely, our impact on the world will be greater in the end.
One of my favorite quotes is from Ghandi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” I truly believe that frugality is one way that we can extend our impact on the world.
If we dare.