published Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Hill: Three generations help with young children

I believe it takes a village to raise a child.

In our “village,” there are three generations of moms and a grandfather raising two girls, ages 5 and 23 months. For the most part, we three moms — my mother, my daughter and I — along with my husband, are on the same page with our methods of child-rearing, with one exception: food.

My daughter is well-read and is constantly educating herself about what foods are good and bad for her children. Her mission is to teach us so that we can follow suit, especially since we all feed the children in separate homes.

Studies shows that too much sugar is bad for children, and we have definitely noticed the negative effect it has on our girls. My daughter reads labels and points out to us the surprisingly high amount of sugar content in some of the foods we’re feeding the girls (ketchup is a good example).

I would expect apple juice to be a healthy choice, but I’ve learned that not only are some brands loaded with sugar, but I was shocked to see that there is a brand manufactured in China. Don’t we have good apples in America?

My daughter rarely purchases processed foods and never buys soft drinks. I love soft drinks and always have them in my house.

I rarely ate processed foods or drank soft drinks when I was growing up in the 1950s and ’60s. Mother made fresh vegetables most every day. I never ate a canned biscuit or a TV dinner.

Still, some of the typical cooking methods back then weren’t so good. Cooks saved bacon grease to flavor vegetables and used lard for frying. And, sadly, it was in my generation that white bread took the place of wheat and multigrain loaves.

Mother and my husband (he’s the cook in our house) rarely fry foods today, and when they do, they usually use heart-healthy oils.

Eating healthfully is a new way of life, especially for my mom and me. We want to improve our diet and, in turn, contribute to the good health of our granddaughters. My late father had a mild heart attack, my mother had a mild heart attack, and my brother died at 54 from a massive heart attack. I have high cholesterol. Is this a family trait I want to pass down to my children and grandchildren? Absolutely not.

Thankfully, my husband’s passion is gardening.

Two years ago, he purchased an acre of land to garden, and it has been extremely productive. We’ve had such an abundance of vegetables that my daughter sells our excess produce at a Signal Mountain farmers market during the summer. In addition to eating fresh foods all summer long, my daughters and husband can the vegetables to last us throughout fall, winter and spring.

We also have apple, pear and plum trees, and blueberry and raspberry bushes.

Additionally, we raise chickens, so we eat fresh eggs (sans hormones).

Our family is making every effort to put fresh food on the table.

But is that to say we never stray? Of course not. We’ll get carry-out about once a week (pizza, most recently), and splurge on ice cream and cookies every now and then. Getting through Easter without eating chocolate was impossible. But instead of filling every plastic Easter egg with candy, we substituted with stickers, coins and hair accessories.

Nowadays, for the most part, we villagers are on the same page when it comes to food. And that’s a good thing.

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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