Rooted In Wonder:
Nurturing Your Family's Faith Through God's Creation
Master Naturalist, Bible teacher, author, wife, and mama of four! Join our adventures of discovering God while adventuring in creation.
This week I have the privilege of sharing with you the story of a “well seasoned” whole food family! On Monday, we met the Marshall family, and learned just what Chuck and Becky grew up eating, and why they decided to revolutionize their diet as they began their family seven years ago (Read part 1 here) Today we’ll learn a little more about Chuck and Becky’s four children, and what they think about mom’s cooking.
Because Chuck and Becky began refashioning their diet while Becky was expecting their first child, real food is all the Marshall children know. Chuck and Becky fight to protect this knowledge in their children of what food is and how it is to be both utilized and enjoyed. One vital way they guard the legacy of real food in their home is by protecting their family dinners. The Marshall’s eat 95% of their meals around the table as a family. Not just 95% of dinners, which would be astounding in itself, but 95% of all meals! The Marshalls homeschool their children, which makes family meals together a little more feasible. Chuck is the pastor of Waukesha City Church, and he’s able to do a lot of work from home, which allows him to also enjoy meals with his family.
Chuck and Becky began their quest into whole foods aboard the vegetarian bandwagon. Becky’s initial beliefs revolving the consumption of meat were that God had only intended us to eat plants. She believed that because humans only began eating meat after humanity rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden, that God had not fashioned our bodies to consume or digest meat. She and Chuck would still consume some animal products, but Becky says that for her, there was always guilt surrounding those treats.
The Marshall’s beliefs have since changed. They now believe that God has created– both for our enjoyment and health– meat from healthy animals raised in their natural habitat, as well as dairy products from those healthy animals prepared in traditional ways (such as raw dairy, pastured cream and butter, and fermented milk in the form of keifer and yogurt).
As Becky began to introduce solid foods to her first baby, Aiden, he did just fine on their diet of plant-based foods. But then Charlie came along, and he just wasn’t thriving. It seemed he may not have been digesting foods very well, and he wasn’t growing adequately. The pediatrician was unsure of why Charlie wasn’t putting on weight, or why he seemed anemic.
Even though Charlie had a healthy appetite, and was eating plenty of food, a plant-based diet was not nourishing him adequately, and so Becky began to introduce some animal products into his diet. As she began feeding him foods like yogurt, keifer, butter from grass-fed cows, and egg yolks, Charlie immediately began putting on weight. He began to thrive.
Becky now understands that each child is different. Even Aiden, who fared fine as a baby on a plant-based diet, now needs meat to function throughout the day. Becky notices that if Aiden goes without meat, he does not do well emotionally or mentally. She explained that it’s all about being sensitive to what each child thrives on, and feeding them those foods.
The Marshall children enjoy helping mom out in the kitchen. Becky says that their eagerness to accompany her to the farmer’s market, get their hands dirty in the garden, and express their creativity in the kitchen has resulted in an eagerness to try new foods.
The oldest Marshall child, Aiden, even fries his own eggs in the morning. As Becky was telling me this, a smirk spread across her face. She asked Aiden if he had told me about his breakfast that morning. Aiden laughed, telling me his story of the egg he forgot that morning—leaving it to fry to a crisp on the stovetop. “I forgot it for like an hour!” He exclaimed. Becky said it was more like twenty minutes.
Now, in my mind, frying an egg takes mere minutes. What could possibly distract your entire attention away for a task that takes mere minutes? Then again, this is a seven-year-old boy with much to discover and conquer. An egg may quickly lose priority. In this case the egg just couldn’t measure up to the fishing show calling Aiden’s name from the living room. I think I would have preferred staring at an egg, but that’s just me.
Of course, kids are kids, and will at times give objections to the plates of food set before them. Five-year-old Charlie is going through a picky phase. All he wants is sweet things. “Pancakes for breakfast, that’s what he wants every morning.” Becky explained. She seemed unworried, though, as her eldest, Aiden, also went through a phase like this and came out on the other side of it a boy who loves to try new foods!
I asked Aidan what his favorite foods are that mom cooks. “Pasta and stuff.” He was very matter-of-fact. He must do a lot of these interviews. “Italian.” He continued. “Like pizza. With pepperoni.” The kid knows what he likes. Becky said that at the ripe old age of seven, Adien also has an appreciation for spicy foods.
When I asked Becky how they handle feeding their children whole foods while out at restaurants, or at group events such as birthday parties, she said that they generally follow an 80/20 rule. This was yet another similarity I found between the Marshalls our family’s creed of food. If 80% of the foods we’re eating are wholesome, we can be a bit more lenient with the remaining 20%.
I agreed, indeed. And so when the Marshall family finds themselves at a birthday party or church event, they partake and enjoy it! Becky sees these events as opportunities to treat themselves to some tasty foods that they wouldn’t normally have at home.
This was one thing I really respect about Becky and her family. They are not dogmatic purists when it comes to whole foods. Becky was unashamed to tell me that after she spends an afternoon grocery shopping, she’ll sometimes bring home frozen pizzas because she just doesn’t want to cook after spending the afternoon out shopping.
It’s that “purist” mentality that can intimidate or threaten us away from eating whole foods; the “all or nothing” lie that tells us unless we are going to commit to grinding our own flour and butchering our own chickens, we might as well not even try.
The first time I heard about someone grinding their own flour, I thought to myself “Wow, that’s crunchy.” That was pretty early on in our whole food ventures. Well, what was I doing the other week? Grinding some sprouted wheat berries in our blender to make our own flour. Call me crunchy. I can take it.
Sometimes when we hear or read about other moms grinding their own flour, fermenting jars of vegetables in their pantry, simmering their own stock from beef bones of grass-fed cows, or even just feeding their family from their own garden, our hearts sink. They are better moms, after all, right? Will I ever get there? Am I a lesser mom for buying flour and (don’t say it) even feeding flour to my children?!
Becky put to rest any apprehensions I held about speaking with a “seasoned” whole food mom. There was no sense of superiority in the things Becky was sharing with me. Instead, what she conveyed was an overwhelming joy from what she gets to do in her kitchen, and how she gets to serve her family in this way.
This is yet another commonality Becky and I share: We count it a blessing to serve our families in this way. When our little one’s eyes light up over fresh berries from the farmer’s market, or each time they sound a resounding “Mmmmmmm!” after taking a forkfull of dinner, our hearts are reassured. Every extra dollar spent at the market, and each extra minute spent in the kitchen is worth nourishing the bodies and souls of our precious little ones.
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!