For years I have silently stewed over my children’s deep, abiding love for berries. I fully understand this infatuation, as a fresh, ripe berry is a wondrous thing, but what kids don’t understand is that they are an expensive wondrous thing. Of all the fresh, healthy produce available to us, they could not have fallen head-over-heels for anything less than 99-cents a pound. They can find some joy in apples and bananas, but nothing comes close to the sweet, pricey taste of strawberries, raspberries, and anything else where five bucks will get you a measly handful they’ll gobble up in less than a minute.
This week, a piece on Slate brought these long-simmering feelings to the surface. Most of the people interviewed for “How Berries Became the Juiciest Battle of Kid-Food Instagram” are parents of toddlers, who are naturally drawn to a food that is sweet, colorful, and are small enough for them to hold in their tiny toddler hands. I, a mother of middle-schoolers, would like to add a coda of sorts to this wonderful piece: your children will never stop eating berries. As they grow their palates will (hopefully) grow, but they will always find berries irresistible, and will always pester you about buying them. When you relent, you will not be able to enjoy any of the berries yourselves, because they will be gone before you can grab a single one — sometimes before you even unpack your groceries. It’s almost as if they are able to absorb the berries transdermally with the sheer power of desire, and nothing—especially their parents—can stand in their way.
I blame myself for much of this, since I routinely gave into their berry-crazed demands when they were mere babes; even though I couldn’t always afford it, I was desperate to get them to eat healthy food without a fight, and decided spending a few extra bucks was a good investment if it meant preserving my sanity. And today, though I stand before you today as a quasi-sane adult, I can’t help but wonder: at what cost? (The answer: at least four thousand dollars per child. Neither I nor Slate are lying to you about this berry business.) If you’re at the beginning of your parenting journey it’s worth checking out the Slate piece, if only to feel less alone in your plight. For those of you who have been mired in berry hell for far too long, I look forward to commiserating with you in the comments.