I believe (and I KNOW this means I am suspect) it began with the contrast of "Tater-Tot Casserole" which I think was a mixture of tater tots, browned ground beef, frozen peas and cream of mushroom soup - and maybe cheese?, and Port Salut Cheese, crisp tart apples (granny smith? it was the late 70's - did they exist yet?) and whole wheat crackers. Both were dinner on different nights. One seemed like food to me, and one seemed like... ummmm, salty.
My mother, though she had a natural leaning toward the crackers, apples and cheese, felt that the "Tater-Tot Casserole" was the better dinner by some scale I did not yet recognize (I was under 10 at the time).
In my life I have had this weird struggle (I mean weird in the sense that it was not difficult, just odd and hard to pin down) between the concept of "food" and "meal." Many things that come with commercially available "meals" don't strike me as food. Sure they are fuel, they won't kill me - not even sorta speedily - but they are VERY far removed from what I think of as "food."
I think of "food" (I use quotes to notate a definition, *NOT* emphasis) as something made of parts I can identify. A salad is food, a Twinkie is not. A backyard barbecue burger made by friends is food, one from a Large Commercial Fast Food Concern is a "product," not food.
But things get fuzzy - I eat ketchup on both burgers. And pickles and mustard. Maybe even cheese. So why is one burger "food" and the other a "product?" For me it has always come down to the could-I-make-it factor. I can make a burger out of beef and spices (maybe even an egg?) but it is not consistent over tens-of-thousands of burgers, and not one that is SUPER DUPER freezer stable, with seaweed additives and the "grill seasoning."
And more to the point, is what I am eating... even if manufactured, is it MADE of food?
For the most part, I give over the making of ketchup, mustard, cheese, *most* pickles, bread *most of the time,* to the experts. But all of these things are made of... food. Flour, yeast, seeds, vinegar, vegetables, milk, water, salt... I'll even concede the generic "spices." These are all things I could get my hands on.
I COULD make them... I could also make duck confit with lavender gelee' and huckleberry gastric.... but I don't (choose to) have the time. But I could... if I wanted too.
And so, back to my purpose.
I want to teach people to:
a) eat meals made out of FOOD, even if they don't look like the 1950's version of a MEAL. I'll go for the 1750's version (OK, the "moderately-well-off" version. Starch, Veggies, Protein, and a little fat)
b) learn how to cook by taste and not recipes (all the time).
I KNOW this is not a skill most of us (Modern 21st Century Happy to have Running-Hot-Water People) have... so to ease people into it.
c) learn the essential basics.
Cook Greens! (leaves, green beans, asparagus and other green stuff).
Whole Starch. (grains, potatoes, plantains... and I'm a sucker for masa... OK any starch where you are able to figure out which plant is MAINLY responsible).
Tasty Protein... anyones' version.
And Fat With A Purpose - in association with it's original source (Olive, Cow, Pig [mmmmmmbacon] whatever, but no mystery, conglomerated non-saturated multi-source fat.)
And to that end...
The Fresh Start
Learn to cook Food.
For you and your kid(s)
For something new.
I think about food all the time. I try to talk about it less. But if you choose to read this, you will hear about it.
Exercise WILL come up. Since (Thank... choose your Force-of-Choice...) we don't all do manual labor for a living, we must choose some and do some to stay healthy and shiny and fit.
But this is mainly about eating and being happy.