Green is Good

If you’re an 80’s kid like I am, you know who Gordon Gekko is. Michael Douglas’s performance as a conniving, billionaire tycoon in the movie Wall Street is best known for a speech made during the film that included the line “Greed is good”. It kind of became the mantra for business people during the decade; take what you can when you can. I don’t agree with this motto, as I feel you need to also give as much (if not more so) as you take, but I can’t help to think of the slicked back hair and expensive suits of Mr. Gekko when I hear the word “greed”. It’s undeniably a part of those formative years for me.

To play on these words, my wife and I have been continuing to find ways for Cam to expand his palate and to convince him that “green” is good. It’s hard for me to preach to him about the benefits of fruits and vegetables since I was a very picky eater growing up. Green was not my favorite color to see on the dinner plate either but I did eat more fruits and vegetables than he is currently willing to try. My tastes developed as I grew older and I now enjoy many foods that I wouldn’t touch as recently as 10 years ago (still going to say no to that broccoli though). My hope is that Cam’s diet will also change as he gets older, as I’m sure that it will. But his Celiac has made this need for taste development a little more urgent. Many Celiac patients suffer from vitamin deficiencies due to their lack in ability to absorb nutrients. Common nutrient deficiencies include iron, calcium, vitamin D and zinc. Iron is the most common deficiency due to the absent of wheat flours, which are fortified with this nutrient but obviously absent from what a Celiac can eat. These deficiencies can be replenished with supplements (which Cam does take) but we also need to infuse different sources of these nutrients into his diet. Thus, we have gone to the garden for help.

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My wife’s parents have always had a garden. A couple of years ago, due to the presence of hungry wildlife and a need for easier maintenance, they transformed their garden into a series of raised beds surrounded by rabbit and deer-proof fencing. In exchange for helping to tend to the garden, we get a raised bed to plant whatever we want. This has been a great learning experience for the kids as we encourage them to get involved and help maintain our bed. In turn, they get to see the process and time that it takes for these foods to grow (it gives you a whole new respect to the work that our farmers do around the world every day). Last year, we asked both of our kids what they wanted to plant and grow for our family’s personal consumption. Our goal was to have them choose something healthy and experience the flavors that can come from non-processed foods. My daughter wanted carrots and strawberries. My wife and I planted peas, beets (which was our most plentiful crop) and peppers. Cam opted for potatoes. Really? Potatoes? This was supposed to be a way to get more greens into our diet, not a method to produce more of what was already a menu staple in our house. We didn’t want to discourage him from the garden idea though so we purchased and planted potatoes. In hindsight, they did produce a nice yield and generated a level of excitement from him but I still feel that somehow, he outsmarted me.

So this year, we return to the garden for round 2. We picked up 1/2 a bed since my daughter’s strawberries were still going strong in last year’s spot. Finally getting a sunny day, we went out yesterday to tend to what we have already planted. The peas are looking good. The carrots are coming in and we are just beginning to see sprouts on the cantaloupe and watermelons. We didn’t plant potatoes this year but Cam was still a big help, assisting his grandfather in planting a slew of tomatoes and packets of green beans. I was impressed with his work and thinking that, this year, maybe he will want to enjoy the fruits of his labor (no pun intended). Last year, Celiac was not a part of his daily being and it’s only a matter of time for him to discover that with fruits and vegetables, supplementing his diet both at home and at restaurants is going to be a whole lot easier. His choices will multiply and the nutrients he is missing will be regained. Does that mean that he’s going to be happy with this year’s garden yield? Honestly, probably not. But, who knows? He has outsmarted me before with potatoes. Maybe this year, he surprises me with greens.

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