Estimated read time : 3 minutes
The avocado is doing pretty well for itself in the food world right now. Not as well as, say quinoa or chia, which in recent years have successfully found themselves growing locally with Indian farmers.
But the avocado, also known in some circles as butter fruit, has become a favourite first food for health-conscious parents. We don’t need to tell you of its health properties because a simple Google search will immediately throw up everything from listicles about its 12 proven benefits to essays on its superfood status. But after some introspection (and paying close to Rs 250 per piece) one has to wonder whether it’s really worth the hype.
We start our children off with a simple avocado and before we know it, we’re pushing quinoa, couscous, kiwis and American corn (anyone else notice that the Indian variety is getting increasingly hard to find?).
This isn’t to say that these grains, fruits and veggies aren’t nutritious. They most definitely are. And delicious too.
But so is our local Indian produce! We’re talking here about things that we grew up eating. Most of our first food memories comprise of eating things like poha, idlis, and parathas for breakfast, sitaphal and chickoos for snacks, dahlia khichadi for lunch and a simple curd rice or roti and sabzi for dinner.
And those are just the more common foods introduced to Indian children in the first few years. There’s also the delicious rotis and puris made from jowar and bajra, wonderful stews sweetened with pumpkin, delicious yams roasted on hot coals and so much more!
Most parents do not realise that all they should be giving their children are bananas and apples that are locally produced. They think exotic, imported fruits build immunity. The food industry makes us believe that kiwis and avocados are great for our children. But it is better to stick to what has been traditionally available in our country, say the experts.
Think global, eat local, is the mantra. It is always better to source local produce and make interesting dishes out of those.
If this means ghee laden parathas or banana chips deep fried in coconut oil, then so be it.
Because raising healthy and happy children isn’t about counting calories but by assessing the nutrition they get from them. The trick is to keep your child’s food fresh, local and to avoid packaged foods that boast a handful healthy ingredients but are still laden with preservative, ‘nature identical flavouring’ and fortified with iron, calcium and other vitamins.
Our children are growing a little every day. Some of it is physical, but a lot of it is mental and emotional. This is also the time when their food habits are taking shape and their preferences are getting stronger.
So while it’s okay to give in to demands for pizza once in a while, helping them learn to appreciate a humble carrot paniyaram (in the south) or muli paratha (in the north) will take them a long way.