Category Archives: General

Fairtrade Fortnight

fairtrade_fortnight_2010

My daughter had some homework from nursery this weekend. Her task was to survey a local supermarket to see how well stocked they are with Fairtrade products. We then had to purchase one of the products to take in the following week, to be used for shopping games as part of Maths Week. She was very diligent in checking for every product and either ticking it off or putting a cross by it, and we seemed to generate a lot of interest from other shoppers too as we traipsed through the aisles on our search.

We discovered that certain supermarkets don’t stock a lot of Fairtrade products and I also realised how idle I have been in looking for the symbol and committing to buying these products. It’s difficult with a family to choose the more expensive options over those better priced. However, having read a little more about the different working conditions and how the Fairtrade branding helps to protect worker’s rights, I have vowed to try and buy these products as and when I can.

I tried to explain to my daughter what Fairtrade was all about, but started talking about buying prices and working conditions and she just got confused. So my husband had a go and summed it up much more succintly:

“When we buy food in the supermarket it comes from lots of different places but it is made or packaged by people who work very hard. If these people are happy in their work then it is Fairtrade, and if they are unhappy, then it’s not”

It’s perhaps a little over-simplified but certainly ample for a 4 year old’s comprehension. I’m not sure I would do it justification with a longer explanation here, but if you’d like to know more, then visit the website: http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/
For information about fairtrade fortnight, look here: http://foncho.fairtrade.org.uk/

Print

Advertisements

The Moody Sow

moodysow

We’re currently in the middle of a major renovation project at our home in Surrey, so I escaped the chaos and took the children back to my hometown of Cardiff for their half-term break. While we were there we visited Cefn Mably farm park (http://www.cefnmablyfarmpark.com/) – a wonderful children’s farm providing the opportunity for children to feed and handle a variety of friendly animals in an all-weather environment, as much of it is covered over. It also boasts a huge soft-play centre and a café with a good selection of freshly made food. The latest addition to the centre is a farm shop called the Moody Sow, selling fresh, local produce.

cefn-mably-224

As the name would suggest, their specialty is pigs, which are bred and reared on site. They make their own remarkably tasty sausages (we bought and tasted them!) as well as smoked and cured bacon, and sell a range of other meats that come from trusted local farms. There is also a bakery on site making fresh bread daily for both the shop and restaurant, as well as a wide range of Moody Sow jams, chutneys and preserves, many with rather interesting flavours, such as champagne strawberry jam and lemon curd with lavender. They also stock free-range eggs from a nearby farm and a range of Welsh cheeses.

cefn-mably-218-1

The emphasis at the Moody Sow, like many other farm shops, is on quality, reliability, minimal packaging and low carbon footprints. Like buying organically grown foods, this is perhaps an ideal and unfortunately for many of us comes with a rather limiting price tag. Therefore my usual approach to farm shops is to take a quick look around, marvel at the wonderful produce, perhaps pick up a tasty looking preserve as a present and then leave, assuming that it is all far too expensive. However, following the horsemeat saga in the UK, like many others I have become more particular about where I buy our meat. It made me think a bit more about where the meat I buy actually comes from, and what happens before it makes it onto the supermarket shelves.

cefn-mably-293
cefn-mably-245

Many independent butchers have increased in popularity as a consequence of the horsemeat scandal as many of us are changing the way we shop. A new trend amongst many of my contemporaries seems to be to stock up on the weekly basics online from one of the large supermarkets, then purchase select, fresh produce from local farm shops or farmers markets when they can. This can make the process of buying food an enjoyable part of the weekend that might also involve the children. Talking and getting to know local producers can provide assurance that you are buying quality produce, and establishing relationships with local suppliers can make the whole process more personal.

Our own local village butcher’s shop has a queue stretching down the street on a Saturday morning with people enticed in by weekly offers. The prices now compare favourably with the higher end supermarkets, and it gives you piece of mind to know that the meat has been hand selected by the people who are supplying it. So, why not bypass the meat aisle at the supermarket this week and find out where your local butcher lives, or if there is a nearby farmer’s market. You might find it’s not quite as expensive as you think, or that you are willing to trade quantity over quality. The children might enjoy the old fashioned way of shopping too…just don’t forget to pack your wicker basket!

Pictures were taken from The Moody Sow website and published with permission.

Coping with Fussy Eaters

One of the greatest challenges of parenting can be feeding your children. If your days are anything like mine, then mealtimes are often fraught with tension. Breakfast is a rushed affair at the start of the day when we are in a hurry to leave the house, lunchtimes are squeezed in-between nursery pick-ups for older siblings, or before afternoon activities, and dinnertime is at the end of the day when the children are at their most tired and testing. On top of that, you need to think of things to cook that the kids will actually eat, have fresh ingredients in the fridge and prepare meals with hungry toddlers snapping at your heels. It’s no wonder that fish fingers become a weekly staple for most of us! Of course there is nothing wrong with fish fingers – I can certainly recommend the Jamie Oliver version – but cooking the same old meals can be very monotonous for both us, and our taste buds. And of course isn’t it every parent’s dream to have children that really enjoy their food and aren’t fussy eaters?!

So, how can we encourage less fussy eating and get children to try new foods? I was quite amused at a party recently when my daughter excitedly pointed to the table and exclaimed, “Look Mummy, olives. Delicious.” I could sense the envy in the Mum I was stood next to as she exclaimed, “My daughter is so fussy, I wish she would eat olives”, at which point she grabbed the arm of her daughter, pointed to mine and said, “Look, your new friend is eating olives, won’t you try one too?” So she did try it, but spat it out immediately! But at least she tried it.

My husband, in desperate moments, used to coat our daughter’s food in yoghurt in the hope that she ‘wouldn’t notice’ and might eat ‘the good stuff’ anyway. I’ve heard of toddlers happily dunking carrots in yoghurt, and others of course succumb to tomato ketchup as a vehicle for healthier food, or just food in general! Parents will try anything just to get their kids to sample food they think they don’t or won’t like.

One of the favourite books in our house is Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss – a comical tale of Sam trying endlessly to get the Cat in the Hat to try something new, which he is convinced he won’t like. Finally, in order to avoid the nagging, he tries the green eggs and ham, and of course discovers he not only likes them, but he loves them. So, as the yoghurt trick won’t wash in our house anymore, we have one line when we present the children with new food they are suspicious of: ‘Green Eggs and Ham’!! My daughter then retorts, ‘He didn’t like it and then he did like it. Ok I’ll try it.’ We don’t always win of course, but at least we are making progress with the concept of trying something before you decide if you like it.

IMG_1444_crop

Fussy eating is almost certainly part of any childhood, but exposing children to lots of different types of food, served in different ways, can certainly help, as well as teaching children about what they are eating, where it comes from and how it is prepared. Talking to children about food away from the dinner table can help stimulate curiosity too. We found that growing a vegetable patch can be an exciting pursuit, or picking vegetables from a local grow your own farm. We took the children this summer to pick vegetables, and I was surprised by how much I learnt too, but more importantly, how excited they were to come home and help to cook and taste their wares!

Despite the title of my website, I don’t believe that children need to eat separate food to adults, and indeed the preparation of separate meals doesn’t benefit anyone, as it’s then just twice the work and you have less opportunity to introduce new flavours. Often it can be a case of staging the preparation, so that you can add spices later on, or giving them a small amount of the ‘adult’ food with plenty of other staples alongside. However, I do concede that some days this is perhaps the easiest strategy, but you can always get them to help prepare the adult food too, even if it’s just adding saffron to the rice to see it change colour, as eventually their curiosity may get the better of them!

Finally, trying food from new cultures can also generate an interest. A simple trip to Pizza Express can be made more exciting if you tell them they are eating Italian food and talk a little about the place and the culture. In this setting you just may get them to try the olives, and not spit them out!