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Episode 11: The United States of Food Issues?

Filed Under:

dinner, picky eaters

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Though we think we’re doing a pretty bang up job for first time podcasters, we admit that interviewing is an art we’ve yet to completely master. So perhaps it’s no surprise that our very first curveball comes courtesy of Food Network star Aarti Sequeira, who you may not know, is also a trained journalist. Of course she got us. But she got us so good.

We interviewed Aarti with the intention of including her in our series on picky eating, but she managed to expand the conversation in such a compelling way that we decided to turn it into a stand-alone episode. While there’s definitely a theme of picky eating throughout our talk, Aarti got us to tap into something larger without us even realizing it at the time. And so this episode is different than anything we’ve brought you before, both in tone and format. We’re pretty excited about it, and hope you will be too.

What is American Food Culture?

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The question of what American food culture promotes is at the heart of what our interview with Aarti Sequeira brought up for Stacie. As a first generation Greek-American, Aarti’s stories of what it was like being raised by Indian parents in Dubai resonated — especially the ones around how food and feeding were handled. And so it came as no surprise to Stacie that she and Aarti parent similarly around food with their own kids, despite growing up in different cultures and countries.

But as Meghan points out, as a multi-generation American, she, too, parents similarly around food. So what gives?

As they try to hash it out, Stacie and Meghan embark on an interesting little exploration of how the food cultures we create in our individual homes interface with the larger food culture of our society. And what is the food culture of American society? Is it just about fast food, diets, convenience, and 30-minute meals? That was certainly our experience growing up, yet here we are, both dedicated, healthy home cooks — professionals at that!

Also, we didn’t address how regional or subcultural American food cultures play into this conversation. As two white women raised in the Northeast by two single moms, we acknowledge that we bring a very specific understanding of American food culture to the table. So we want to hear your perspective: What is American food culture to you? Is it different than how you hear us describe it? Find us on Facebook or Instagram and let us know!!

In the End, what Really Matters?

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For all of our highfalutin conversation, in the end, we brought it back home to picky eating and how we parents can help lay a foundation for our kids to develop a healthy relationship with food. And at the heart of the conversation for Meghan was this notion that no matter where you grew up, how you raise your kids, or what decisions you make about how to feed them, being around the table is about being with your family.

Despite our similarities and also our differences, all three of us, Stacie, Meghan and Aarti, believe that framing our responsibility as the family cook this way is what matters most, regardless of the larger food culture in which our children are raised.

For folks who don’t love to cook or who feel like the responsibility of being the family cook is a heavy one, fear not! It doesn’t have to be an unbearable job. Listen to this week’s episode for confessions from three food professionals on what our families often eat for dinner (hint: yogurt and granola passes!) and also for practical tips from Aarti on dealing with picky eaters. Because, yes, we really did speak to her about picky kids and she’s a working mom truly in the trenches right now. Her ideas are practical, insightful, and super useful, especially for those of you with younger kids.


Try This At Home

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Before we signed off with Aarti, she gave us a wonderful tip that was practical for dealing with kids (even picky eaters) and also spoke to culture, both in and out of the home. It was so perfect that we turned it into this week’s Try This At Home:

The next time you introduce a new international ingredient or dish, go beyond what’s on the plate by also introducing your child to other aspects of the culture of origin. Share interesting tidbits about the country, show them where it is on the map, pull up YouTube videos of traditional dance from the country, and so on. Think about what your child is interested in and start there. (Maybe they’ll prefer watching the national sports team instead of dance — that’s okay too! Whatever works.)

The idea here is not only to use food as a way of introducing new peoples and cultures — which is a beautiful thing — but also to take some pressure off of the new food, which can be especially helpful with those picky eaters. It may not solve the issue completely, but it just might pique their interest without focusing too much on their plate.

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