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Dan Barber’s Carrots are Sweeter Than Your Carrots

December 11, 2009

I just came from an event where chef Dan Barber, of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns spoke. He was cross-questioning (that sounds a lot more confrontational than it really was, at least most of the time) his old schoolmate Shaun Donovan, who is now the head of HUD. Pretty cool stuff, lots of talk about how to get us to all break the big food chain and eat in a more sustainable fashion, the pros and cons of urban rooftop gardening, the White House garden, introducing gardens into urban planning, and how big the surge of farmers’ markets has been across the country in the past 5-10 years (up 30% — nice!).

The biggest take-aways were from the evening (and, BTW, this isn’t exactly brand new news) were how significantly connecting kids and grown-ups to the source of the thing we all eat will play a role in the future, and how deep in doo doo we are all going to be if we don’t try to fight the tide of cheese doodles and McDonalds.  Dan Barber maintains adamantly that kids exposed to good, whole foods will choose them over processed food any day.  He said he just tested his new crop of carrots and that their sugar percentage clocked in at a rocking 10.8%, making for some super sweet, super appealing carrots (BTW again…this was mentioned in to illustrate the difference between the sugar level of carrots that were grown on a mega farm and flown across the country from CA…which clocked in at a 0.0% sugar percentage.  All I could think was “Oh, that why my carrots have no taste.”).

Here’s a story:

Fresh Direct, which is an online grocery service in New York City where I live, fully launched in 2003. I was one of the first users, and am still a fan. When it first started delivering to Manhattan, I happily sat at my computer, ordering produce and meat and other groceries with my then three-year-old son on my lap. I let him point and click on the apples he liked, pick out some veggies, and maybe a snack, and then went through check out and submitted my order. “See, Jack, isn’t this cool?” I said. “Now our groceries will come!” Jack hopped off my lap and crawled under the desk supporting the computer and held out his arms, looking up expectantly. He literally thought the groceries were going to drop out from below the computer. Jeez Louise, I seemed to have left something out.

Note to self: Even those of us who cook regularly and try to put good things on the table most of the time have a thing or two to acknowledge about how our kids think food comes into being. One more note to self: plant some herbs in pots in the spring.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 14, 2009 4:05 pm

    Our kids have always been a little more adventurous than the classical finicky eaters. We started gardening this past spring (didn’t everyone?) after a few years of threatening to do so. They still grumble a bit now and then about having to weed it. But, they enthusiastically eat what they grew themselves and help pick out what they want to grow. My son has become quite the Salad King with the lettuce we grow and he developed his own Caesar recipe.

    It’s an adventure…

    Chef Dad

  2. hungrysofia permalink
    January 5, 2010 4:02 pm

    I have a friend whose children spend half the year in Italy and half in the States and have no interest in processed “kid” foods. Even as toddlers they were just discerning little eaters. It was a little unnerving.

  3. carolan permalink
    January 7, 2010 5:55 pm

    It wasn’t until he was about five or six that Nick, the son of my friend Elisabeth, caught on to her little fiction that thinly sliced apple rounds were “cookies”. Now that he’s grown-up he has very little taste for junk sweets.

    Sometimes a little mendacity goes a long way.

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