Monday, 26 April 2010

To the heart of food...

A couple of weeks ago I was involved in a discussion on Real Life Radio about childhood obesity.  DO NOT SWITCH OFF...I realise most are tired of constantly reading and hearing those two words together.  But, the conversation took a turn and we got talking about food choices, food and family, food and the environment.  This is the stuff I am absolutely passionate about. Which ever way you look at it, food frames the world we live in.  Food reveals so much about culture and climate.  If you want to feel the pulse of a nation, pop down to the local supermarket and there you'll find the answer.  A quick look up and down the aisles and you'll discover how the country is doing in terms of body health and economy health.

I come from Australia, and unless anything has changed, as far as I know all our fresh meat and poultry is sourced within Australia, all vegies too (with few very irritating exceptions such as fresh garlic from China).

It is an anomaly to come across a fresh food item that is not made in Australia.  So, when we arrived in the UK and I ventured into my first Tesco I was shocked to find my trolley full of fresh produce from Kenya, Israel, Spain, Italy, The Netherlands, The Caribbean, Chile, Germany, Denmark and New Zealand (to name only a few!), which is why it will come as no surprise to you where possible I shop for my fresh food at the local green grocer and butcher.  My grocer and butcher only source produce from within a 100 mile radius of where we live, which is great news because I want to support my local farmers and the country's economy.  British farmers are a dying breed thanks to the demand for cheap food.

Foreign countries are able to produce an inferior product at much lower prices by taking shortcuts on labor and animal welfare.  For some reason we don't care....we just want the cheapest and quickest despite the fact that the corn we eat is picked by a 7 year old earning pennies for her hard labor, or the fact the meat that lands on our tables comes from farms that have no care or respect for animal welfare.  Food is expensive and whether you agree or not, good food should be a priority in your budget.  Local produce is good for you, better for the environment and fabulous for the local economy - that's your kids future I'm talking about. 

What do you know about the food you eat?  Where was it grown?  What do you know about the animal welfare standards of the meat and poultry you eat?  Has the food you eat racked up more frequent flyer miles than you?  Let's hope not!

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Mother Nature

Sunshine, pink peonies, soft white bunnies and baby chicks. A true Hallmark mother and daughter moment. What? You don’t skip hand in hand along the grassy knoll with your mother? That’s odd, you must be different. Ok, so neither do I, but I am grateful to have a solid relationship with my mum which I am told makes me a very lucky person.

I am surrounded by a number of friends whose relationship with their mums is fraught with dissension, anger, bitterness and disappointment. These women may have been betrayed by others, but the dysfunction they experience in their mother-daughter relationship carries the most damage of all, and, as a result the price for this rage is paid for by other un-suspecting relationships in their life.

This is nothing new. And, what is confronting for most women is the fact we are all daughters. Our mothers were once on the other end of the stick and if she isn’t living up to our expectations, you can’t help but wonder what did our mothers envisage their relationship to be like with their own daughters?

It is unlikely a mother holding a newborn daughter thinks “gee, I can’t wait to screw you up and have the most volatile relationship with you in the future.” No, likely a mother holding a newborn ponders how much she loves and wants to protect this new little vulnerable life, and if you’re anything like me, think upon future tea parties, tiny pink dresses and patent leather shoes.

So where does it go wrong? That’s a question no one can definitively answer, but chances are if your mother sustained dysfunction in the relationship with her own mother, un-dealt with, those insecurities and hurts often get carried through to the next generation. It is also probable that a daughter of a good mother-daughter relationship can take for granted the work that goes into building an enduring friendship with her own daughter.

If you are sailing the boat of mother dissatisfaction, you might want to know a few facts. Paula Caplan, author of Mother Blaming writes:

If you’re busy blaming your mother or wishing you could “divorce” her, you are caught in a psychological prison. You can’t get free, and you can’t really grow up. Mother-blame limits your freedom: you can’t be an adult who freely considers all of life’s possibilities. You restrict yourself to certain activities, interests, and friends to prove how different from Mother you are.

You can’t look honestly at who you are, because you might discover ways that you are like her! Frantic to avoid what you consider her failures, you overreact, throwing out the good with the bad: you grow tough because you think she’s sentimental, or you become a doormat because she wasn’t warm enough. All that reaction against her, that desperate drive to prove your difference, restricts and damages your relationships with the other people you love—your mate, your children, your other relatives, and your friends. You offer them only a part of your true self, a caricature.
Nothing stellar comes without solid planning and hard work. The good news is you have the power to ensure YOUR relationship with YOUR daughter is nothing less than the best. So....may I ask what does your relationship look like with your daughter presently and in the future? What are you plans and strategies to work towards this and to keep on track? If you’re harbouring resentment towards your own mother, what are doing to unload that? Friends, we have the opportunity for a wonderful life, live it to the fullest.

The Toddler & Me

So here we are in a foreign country, toddler and me shopping in a department store.  They say timing is everything, and so after 5 minutes of harmonious bliss, toddler decides to tests the boundaries and let’s go of my hand in an effort to navigate her own way around the store.  Maybe I’ve seen too many episodes of Law & Order, but no toddler is letting go of me, especially in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language.  So what ensues is a battle of wills.  A 2 year old desperately trying to let go while screaming ‘help’ to concerned on lookers versus a determined mother half dragging an unwilling toddler across the department store floor.  I don’t have to tell you who won….I hope you know.  

Parenting a toddler may be physical and mentally intensive, but the advantage is I control the environment.  I determine the boundaries. I am the deciding influence on my toddler’s life.  As my child grows and transitions into preschool, the boundaries of my influence slightly decrease.  Once my child enters school my influence starts to compete with other sources…teachers, friends and the playground all start to vie for influence over my child. 

I haven’t yet hit the teenage years with my kids, but I’m hoping if I stay consistent in my parenting and keep setting the boundaries, the hard yards I have put into these early years will begin to yield their benefits and just as my toddler knows I am a force to be reckoned with when it comes to her well being, she will also understand as a teenager when I say no to the car keys….don’t worry I’m not naive to believe there still won’t be kicking and screaming!