This I Believe

David - Whitefish, Montana
Entered on December 9, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family
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This I Believe

My parents have always had strict rules, especially when it comes to eating food. The three cardinal rules that have now become unnecessary, were: 1. Always try a small serving. 2. Finish your plate. 3. If you say, “I don’t like this!” you’ve earned yourself another scoop. Those guidelines may seem ridiculously harsh; however, my parents had several sound reasons for which my three brothers and I were forced to eat food that we didn’t particularly enjoy. Based on those reasons, I believe that it is a parent’s duty to train their children from an early age to eat the food served them whether or not they like how it tastes. Although training children to eat food that they find distasteful may be a hard-fought and bitter battle, in the end, it will pay off.

Firstly, many foods that are not particularly palatable at first-taste, such as vegetables, contain vitamins and minerals essential to helping the human body fight off diseases. Without regular consumption of fruits and vegetables containing these important disease-fighting vitamins and minerals, the human body becomes much more susceptible to diseases like cancer and heart disease. Similar to a high performance racecar pumped full of only the highest-octane, finest quality gasoline, or to a fine race horse receiving only the best oats and hay, so the human body needs highly nutritious, healthy food in order to perform to the best of the abilities of the individual, and to perform consistently for as many years as possible.

Secondly, my parents taught us to never waste food. While I was growing up, I remember many times when I couldn’t help but saying, “I don’t like this.” The amount of food on my plate would instantly increase. At that point, I usually slouched at the dinner table for another half-hour, trying a bite here or there. But the result was inevitable. I wouldn’t be able to finish all of the food on my plate. So then, Dad would cover it, stick it in the fridge, and I would have a chance to finish it for, that’s right, bedtime snack (if not, then I would have a great breakfast). In our house, food never went to waste.

Thirdly, I learned to respect the hard work and selflessness of whomever prepares a meal by eating what they serve. My sophomore year of high school, our choir attended a two-day festival in town several hours drive away. Too far to away to return home each night, we were housed in groups of three or four by students from the local school. On the last evening of our choir tour, our host mom worked hard to prepare a special meal for us. The dinner was wonderful consisting of: salad, lasagna, and garlic bread. I began to eat, enjoying the delicious food. Soon my plate was finished, and I received a second helping. It was then that I noticed my friend hadn’t even touched his plate of steaming food. When I asked what was wrong, he ashamedly told me that he didn’t like tomato sauce, and couldn’t stand salad. I was amazed. Our host mom had worked hard to prepare us a great meal, and it seemed rude and ungrateful to not accept the food with pleasure, but to turn it down as terrible, or not appetizing. I quietly told him to try it, or force it down. He wouldn’t even attempt a bite. Through this experience, I came to realize how grateful I was that my parents trained me at an early age to eat all food. I now enjoyed freedom, shared by few of my friends, to be honestly polite and grateful when a guest at someone’s house.

Although I enjoy the tastes of nearly all food, a few recipes and specific foods are still not palatable. I have learned to eat these foods without uttering a word of complaint, reaping the food’s nutritional benefit, not wasting the food, and respecting the hard work and kindness of whomever prepared it. I am very glad that I have been trained not to waste food, and to always eat what I am given. I strongly believe that parents should abide by these principles, teaching their children to eat all foods. As an 18 year-old high school senior nearly ready to leave for college, I am confident that one day I will train my own children to abide by “Grandpa and Grandma’s Three Rules.”