Wednesday, October 2, 2013

One of the Great Things About Being Here (Food wise)

Okay, I wrote this ages ago. Like when Xander was still not getting juice and I cut up grapes for him. Now he tells me - I like to eat seeds. And I let him. Anyway, besides that, this is all still pretty valid.

Pretty much everything in the store here is from Europe.  And that means that it usually doesn’t have artificial dyes.  This is partially because a lot of the ones we use in the US are banned in Europe.  In addition, they rarely have genetically modified produce.

I haven’t fully decided what I think about genetically modified foods, because most of them haven’t been around long enough to have any information about them – good or bad.  When it’s the kind of modifications that have been being done for centuries – crossing this plant with that one to make it better, stronger, whatever – I am just fine with it.  It’s when it gets into the grayer areas that I’m not sure about. Pretty sure I don't think it's cool to modify them with pesticides and things like that...

But I can say this – the grapes here are fabulous.  At least this one type of small dark grape – at least in French, they are called black – but they are delicious.  Xander points to them when he sees them in the store and he can barely contain himself when he can see them on the counter and knows he’ll be getting some soon.  Brant as well loves them.  I’m slightly less enamored, but I don’t know that I’ve ever liked grapes as much as Brant has.

Brant is convinced now – that we sacrifice flavor when we get rid of seeds in grapes.  It’s true, these ones have seeds.  For me, I kind of like the convenience of seedless.  But I am willing to cut and de-seed grapes for my son, especially because I can see how happy they make him.  (Oddly, I am happy to do that for him – but give up time on email to play with him?  I do that begrudgingly sometimes…)

I’ve always been pretty convinced that we sacrifice flavor for size.  You know how in the US when you buy strawberries, whether fresh or frozen, they are gigantic?  But if you grow them yourself they are tiny?  I just opened a bag of frozen strawberries here – and they are tiny!  In fact, our bag of frozen raspberries has some berries that are bigger than the strawberries.  But man are they sweet strawberries.

So there are definite perks here.  In addition – Europeans are very good about labeling their allergens, which is only starting to pick up in the states.  Thankfully, this is not actually an issue for me, but having known a lot of people with food sensitivities and my sister’s recent discovery that she is gluten intolerant, I can definitely appreciate the labels.

So back to those food dyes…I am so glad that I don’t have to worry about them here!  Also usually the products here don't have the artificial preservatives. Like sodium benzoate. Despite being in just about everything in the US - it's not in things here. Not even the soda...which is made by the same companies of course...There has been research linking sodium benzoate to ADHD behaviors - and that if you remove it from the diet - it's about as effective as ritalin. So I'm all for not putting that in my kid. Or in me.

In addition, all of the juices that we can buy here are 100% juice.  They are pretty much all juice blends (even the orange juice and apple juice) but at least they are 100% juice.  We haven’t started giving Xander juice yet, but at least when we do – we don’t have to think about it.  Anything in the Economat will be 100% juice.

So, even though the selection here leaves something to be desired, and the freshness and quality are…well, lacking at times…there are still perks to being here.


  1. I ask as I'm reading your blog and trying to determine if I'd be interested in Gabon. Both my husband and I work for Shell and we have a 2.5 yr. old son, and 6 month old daughter. The health issues frighten me, to say the least, but the rest sounds nice. We're Canadian (living in Calgary) and the thought of having a small town feel plus beach/activities is interesting.

  2. Jessica, We are still here. Would love to talk with you more about all of this. There was also a Dutch couple here with two kids that I could potentially put you in touch with (they are in Sakhalin now) to get an idea what it is like here if you are both going to be working. I would be happy to answer any questions you have!

  3. Hello
    I am also considering gamba. We have 2 children. Could I email you to ask some questions? Many thanks

  4. Hello
    We are also considering Gabon. We have 2 small children. Can I email you with some questions? Many thanks. Natasha

  5. Natasha - can you send me your email in a comment? I won't publish the comment here!