Five a Day?


Don’t ask me what I was doing in the baby food aisle, clearly thinking about other things, but I suddenly noticed just how many varieties of foods there are crammed into tiny jars and tins. Exotic foods from around the world as well as the British staples of lamb, beef and chicken.

“Can I help you, Madam?” came the unexpected enquiry.
“Um, no it’s fine, thank you, I was just wondering what to have for tea”.
I felt certain the work experience newbie wanted to call over the PA system: ’New fad diet consumer in aisle four!’
I beat a nonchalant retreat to the fruit and veg section and set about gathering all things healthy. The baby food took me back though, my first-born was six weeks early so my dear old body was not ready for the dairy cow experience. As he was beyond tiny, it was rather like trying to feed a butterfly with a pipette. After two weeks in SBCU chained to an expressing machine with regular visits from a plaited hair, open-toe sandal-wearing, earnest mother of ten who was supposed to offer breast feeding advice, but only looked on with both disappointment and pity; I was more than ready to leave.

Starting motherhood feeling a failure is not how it’s meant to be so I decided if I couldn’t feed him then Mother Nature would. Over the months while the formula bottles steamed themselves sterile I set about my own home-cooked organic baby food production. This guilt-driven cottage industry initiated the purchase of a second freezer. Ice cube trays containing every fruit and vegetable combination known to man, (and a few that possibly were not- carrot and kiwi didn’t go down a storm), were stacking up to cope with the demands of his ample appetite.

Five years later when my second was born my forty-one year old body simply said ‘you have to be kidding. Are you nuts?’ and promptly gave up in the milk department despite the best, if slightly harsh, efforts of a maternity nurse who in exasperation contorted my breasts and baby this way and that in an effort to achieve ‘latch on’.

I blew the dust off the sterilizer and ice cube trays and started up Pagan Potted Provisions again with much success, although my second-born soon became a ravenous steak and chips kinda guy. But no matter I was at least reassured that, even before the advent of ‘Five a Day’, they were getting double that quantity of fruit and veg.

And now years on there are times when Chez Pagan struggles to cope with the size off my off spring especially when we all decide to cook at once. The happy bi-product of feeding them copious fruit and veg is that my eldest has developed a taste for the high end, not for him breakfast cereal but rather mashed avocados on brown bagels with poached eggs and grilled bacon. I look on with envy as I spoon in another Muller Light.

My youngest has strayed recently; he has developed a penchant toward patisserie and makes fabulous cakes and deserts. What’s the problem I hear you ask, well he prefers to eat them at every meal in fact they are the meal! All that training! Where did I go wrong? Before I admit to being a failed Pagan parent I’m putting down to puberty, the drive for independence is strong in this one as is the taste for sugar.

The battle lines are clear- I pack him off with a couple of pieces of fruit; he lets them rot in his bag. I stock the fridge to Hemsley and Hemsley standards; he says there’s nothing to eat. So the next non- pulse Pagan proposal has been vegetarianism two days a week but he is still adamant that his sneaked post evening meal snack of cheese and onion crisps makes up a further two of his Five a Day!

I capitulate. Hang on where’s that recipe for
carrot cake…

Sandra Pagan