Tag Archives: food

What Would You Do? (Mom’s Edition)

Sort of looks like a blueberry to a toddler. Photo provided by Ledge and Gardens.

We had the misfortune of a small emergency last night. My two-year-old decided to sample some berries while playing outside. Her ever-vigilant sister caught her in the act and sounded the alarm to whomever would listen.

Since Daddy was on duty, they all paraded into the house with the plant and a crying toddler with a purple mouth.

“She ate poison berries!” exclaimed my panicked 8-year-old daughter.

I was in the middle of making dinner, trying to make sense of what happened. My actions, in hindsight, are what I’ve been stewing over all day.

What would you do in this situation?

  1. Scoop up baby girl and whisk her away to the emergency room.
  2. Take matters into your own hands, literally, and induce vomiting.
  3. Smooth away everyone’s worries, assure them everything will be fine, then Google your way to more information.

Well, if you chose number 3, we’ve got something in common. She’s fine, fine, fine. It’s just an elderberry. Go outside and play so I can finish dinner. Semi annoyed by the interruption.

Is it an elderberry? You can make wine and juice from that, right? So I look it up online, study some photographs and hmmm. That’s not an elderberry.

I Google “looks like an elderberry” and wait a minute… it’s a pokeberry. Looking up pokeberry… ALL PARTS OF POKEWEEDS ARE POISONOUS.

Okay. Mild panic sets in at this point. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, cramping… coma and death. Heart is pounding. Still trying to be calm because 8-year-old is still hovering nearby.

How many berries had she eaten? This is the child who can polish off a pint of blueberries by herself.

Not to toot my own horn and throw in a blatant product endorsement, but I rushed to my desk to get my Baby Love Carebook. On the first page is a list of phone numbers, including the poison control hotline.

After a brief chat with an R.N., I was reassured that the ER would not induce vomiting; that she would have to eat at least 10 berries to get sick; and if she did begin vomiting, dehydration was our biggest worry. She even called me back two hours later to check on my daughter’s condition.

No vomiting. Everything was indeed fine, fine, fine. But shouldn’t my panic button have gone off a little sooner? Is it really a good thing to always be cool as a cucumber? Is there a part of me that is always in denial?

Yes, I know, my reaction ultimately turned out to be just right. The situation just made me think of all the different ways this little drama could have played out with different people involved.

Grace and peace.

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If You Can Grow Kids, You Can Grow Anything

"So, this is where garlic bread comes from?"

I spent this morning digging up garlic bulbs with my delighted 5-year-old daughter. She shouted every time she brought one out of the earth and into the scorching July sun. We stopped at 50 bulbs; both of us hot, dirty and reeking of garlic. It was fun for both of us, but also profound. She loves garlic bread, but never would have imagined this delicious treat could come from under the dirt!

Growing vegetables is more than a hobby for me. Oh sure, I’m geeky enough to take pictures of my garden and post them on Facebook. But farming is part of my past, present and future. I’m the granddaughter of farmers on both sides of my family and have always known where food comes from – both animal and vegetable. For me, growing food is an essential life skill for my children – and if my dreams come true someday – for all children. Just as I teach my girls the alphabet, I also show them how to plant seeds, water and mulch them, and most importantly, how to harvest and prepare the food. What they get from the process is part science lesson, part cooking lesson and part spiritual awakening. Children begin to see the cycle of life in gardening, but issues of life and death are a lot less scary when they are dealing with plants. Farming also raises the consciousness of children about their food supply. At the age of four, our daughter refused to eat pork when she found out it came from pigs, her favorite animal. This lasted for an entire year with our full support.

MOM DARE: Have you ever gardened for yourself or your children? If so, did you really include them or did you ask them to step aside to protect your plants? Perhaps you could try harder to let them do hands-on work. Don’t criticize when they blast your tomato plants with a hose instead of watering around the base. Or when they gleefully dig up more carrots than you can eat in a month. Share them with friends and applaud your child’s interest. I still cringe a little when my children bring me a handful of freshly picked flowers from my gardens, but someday I will miss this simple joy. Never had a garden? Now is the time to grow one thing with your children. Even apartment dwellers have abundant choices when it comes to growing vegetables and fruit. This isn’t a gardening blog, so I’ll let you do your own research on how to do this. At the very least, don’t just take your children to the farmer’s market, take them to an actual farm. Let them walk the rows, pick some berries and ask questions. Not only will this start a process of educating your children about life, ecosystems and healthy choices; but you will create joyful memories to carry with you for the rest of your lives.


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U.S. Babies and Children Allergic to Our Food Supply

I’ve just listened to a webcast on Parenting Unplugged Radio featuring Robyn O’Brien, author of The Unhealthy Truth: How our food is making us sick – and what we can do about it. It sheds new light on the prevalence of allergies in our children, specifically milk allergies, and the processed, artificial food supply we subject them to. Listen here:

If you’re struggling with discovering a food allergy, intolerance or unexplained behavior in your child (such as ADD or ADHD), please look at your food supply. How many labels do you have to read to get through your dinner? How much high fructose corn syrup, hydrolyzed soy protein, msg, hormone-laden milk or hydrogenated oils do you consume? If you’ve never thought about or checked labels, you are likely supplying your family with a toxic diet (even if you are simply breastfeeding your infant).

This is one of the most succinct and well-researched resources I’ve found on the subject of food allergies and gave me reason to pause and reflect on my own struggles with dairy intolerance in all three of my children. (Read previous post Is My Baby Allergic to Me? for common reactions.) I thought I knew it all on the subject of toxic food, but she educated me further. I’m anxious to read the book just to see what more I can learn. Check out her web site at for more information.

Oh, and here’s a funny aside if you’ve listened to the segment where Robyn describes weaning her children off of neon orange mac and cheese. I had my own experience with this when my oldest daughter was finally able to digest cow’s milk and became obsessed with the gooey orange junk. I began buying the natural mac and cheese, which is usually white or slightly yellow, and added pureed organic winter squash to beef up the orange color. She can’t taste it, gets a nice helping of beta carotene and none of the toxins associated with the red and yellow food dyes. I slowly switched to flax seed pasta and ACTUAL CHEESE (gasp!) instead of packaged powder, but continue to add squash. To this day, she has no idea and insists that I make the best mac and cheese in the world. Maybe it’s a baby step, but still one worth taking. Try it!


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