Dad fears the Acme and the kitchen

When I was a child, my mother would frequently talk about how hard it was to feed a family. I never listened. I just ate.

I'm not talking here about the difficulty of paying for food, though the problem of hunger in America is a complex and growing one.

I'm referring to the entire world of eating, fraught with perils as it is. This is not to mention the sometimes overwhelming effort of planning, shopping, cooking, and plating a meal that a child will eat.

I'm not a great chef and I don't derive joy from dicing vegetables. But I try to make decent meals. Still, food can be a minefield, as you worry about nutrition, calories, freshness, taste, acceptability, etc.

Food awareness never ends, and a parent must be vigilant.

A child's brain development occurs in ages birth to 3, and the organ has to be fed properly or vital connections are not made.

As you feed a child, you are creating fat cells that can be with her for the rest of her life, so you have to be careful. My generation was taught to clean the plate, but that's not what pediatricians say now. Of course, if you get too crazy about this, kids pick up on your food-related anxieties, and then you have bulimia and anorexia to deal with.

Also, there are eating habits that affect weight that must be monitored, such as speed of food intake. You have to manage treats. You have to be aware of a child's body image. You have to fight the culture that is pushing sugary cereal and ice cream.

Then there are peers, who also have influence in a kid's food choices. On top of that, you've got well-meaning grandparents who get a kid started on Hershey bars. I'm not mentioning any names here, mom and dad.

And finally, you have to worry about additives, chemicals, preservatives and the occasional accidental ingestion of a glue or a small action figure.

Shopping for and feeding my daughter actually makes me nervous. The produce aisle alone kicks off enormous worries, as I contemplate all the vegetables my daughter won't eat.

When it comes to food, there is just so much to think about. It's exhausting. Tonight, maybe I'll just order a pizza.