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Archive for the 'dirt' Category



A few months ago, we embarked on our most ambitious summer project yet.

An organic vegetable garden in our backyard! We planted tomatoes, zucchini, green chilies, basil, cilantro, peppermint, cucumbers and bell peppers.

To our delight, most (R.I.P cucumbers) of the vegetables survived our less-than-perfect tending. And we had our first harvest last week!bell-pepper.JPG

The kids enjoyed getting their hands dirty and watching the veggies “being born.” But the best part, they say, was popping the cherry tomatoes into their mouths, soon after harvesting them.

The project allowed the kids to make the farm-to-table connection, and they’ve grown a special fondness for yellow bell peppers. Bonus!vegbasket1.JPG

Posted by Swapna Venugopal on Thursday, August 14th, 2008 at 12:32 pm |

I knew it! Dirt *is* healthy for you


Last weekend, I had the two little guys at a nearby playground where the ground under the structures was dirt and soft wood chips instead of that newfangled soft, rubbery surface.dirt-2-2.jpg

Markus, the toddler, has really found his balance and rarely topples over now, but he had a terrific face plant while running from the bottom of the slide to the steps to climb back to the top. He stood up and had dirt from his forehead down to his toes.

But his mouth had been open, as he was laughing at the time, so he got some dirt in his mouth.

Recognizing that since time immemorial, children had been eating mudpies and dirt in various ways, shapes and forms, I didn’t freak out. I dusted him off, and tried to help him get the excess out of his mouth, then realized I had the solution in my hand: a half-filled juice box. He sucked down the juice — and the remaining dirt — and wiped his hands on his pants before he trotted off to climb the steps again.

Today, I was happy to be vindicated by this article. Eating dirt is known as “geophagy.”

Chimps (our closest genetic cousins in the animal kingdom) eat dirt to help fight malaria, apparently.

Humans apparently do it all over the world, too. (And apparently it’s very common among pregnant women.) Scientists believe the reasons are twofold: First, to absorb minerals they need; second, to detoxify. Here’s a link to the original study in the PLoS ONE journal that the article was based upon.

So, next time junior grabs a handful of dirt in the backyard and crams it in his mouth before you can get to him, don’t freak out.

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Posted by Amy Vernon on Wednesday, June 4th, 2008 at 11:34 am |
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About this blog
You make it, they eat it, right?

As most parents soon discover, feeding a family is rarely that easy, whether its nursing a fussy newborn or trying to get a hot meal into a squirming toddler (or attempting both at the same time.) And that's not even the days when work runs late, the main course burns, or your adventurous little sushi eater announces from now on she will only eat food that is pink.

As parents ourselves, we've been there, done that, even learned a few tricks along the way. And we're pretty sure so have you. Maybe together we can make eating together as a family -- gulp! -- fun again.

My site was nominated for Best Parenting Blog!


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About the authors
Hema Easley Hema Easley has been a reporter for The Journal News since July 2002, first covering municipal government and then nonprofit agencies, women's issues and the South Asian and Muslim community in the Lower Hudson Valley. In her previous job, Hema was a correspondent for the Associated Press in South Asia. She lives with her husband and two sons in Orange County.
KatieKatie Ryan O'Connor, a Journal News editor and 35-year-old mother of three, never quite appreciated the work that went into feeding kids until she had to do it herself as a mother. If she had a food-and-kids philosophy it would be something like this: try your best to offer as much healthy food as possible, but sometimes fruits just have to be counted as vegetables and there are far worse things than chicken and spaghetti. Again.
TraceyTracey Princiotta, a 37-year-old mother of one, loves to cook, bake and eat, and is relieved that her son appears to be equally willing to chow down -- even if it's baby food and formula right now. Despite her husband's intense aversion to vegetables, she has high hopes of nurturing a true chowhound who will try everything at least once. And if all else fails, she's not above sneaking veggies into other foods.
Marcela Rojas Marcela Rojas has been a municipal reporter with The Journal News since January 2003. She is a native of Putnam County and grew up eating Peruvian food. She didn't realize until she was 13 that rice did not come with everyone's meal. After several years of living in Los Angeles -- where she grew a fondness for Thai food -- she returned to Putnam County where she now lives with her husband and daughter. Zyla (rhymes with Lilah) just turned 1 in March and, so far (her mother is pleased to note), loves to eat everything.
Swapna Venugopal Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy, a Journal News reporter, started her career as a journalist in 1999 after graduating with a master's degree from New York University. Before joining the paper in 2006, Swapna worked as a municipal reporter for the Home News Tribune in New Jersey, and took a baby sabbatical to care for her two children, now ages 7 and 5. She has currently outsourced feeding her children and husband to her mother, who is visiting from India. Her friend and colleague Katie O'Connor, informs Swapna that she wouldn't mind being fed Indian food by her mother, too.
Randi Weiner Randi Weiner has been a reporter with The Journal News since 1989, having covered police, government and schools in Westchester and in Rockland. An Ohio native and 1976 graduate of Bowling Green State University, she worked for daily newspapers in Ohio and Michigan before moving east. She has tended bar and danced in a beledi troup and sat on the boards of two community theaters. She plays mandolin with the Shamrogues, ConnecticutÕs largest Irish band. Randi lives in Connecticut with her husband and has three children.

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