Five Questions with Memphis Coalition Member Robert White • Seafood Nutrition Partnership

Read how Robert White from Memphis has raised a seafood and vegetable loving 2-year-old named Sam.​

The Seafood Nutrition Partnership educates Americans on the health benefits of eating at least two servings of seafood a week. What do you see is the greatest benefit to Memphians eating more seafood?

As a city, we are known for Southern hospitality and Southern cuisine. Interestingly, the combination of the two is that people “down South” are always willing to feed you. The way so many of us grew up eating requires that we find a way to revamp our diets on one hand and to make those traditional Southern cuisine staple meals healthier, while preserving taste on the other. Eating more seafood of the non-deep fried variety is definitely a significant step in that direction.

What are some of Sam’s favorite seafood dishes?

Sam does not discriminate when it comes to food generally and seafood dishes specifically. A favorite seafood dish for him is usually what’s being served that day. Within the last couple of weeks alone, he has eaten everything from sea scallops and lemon pepper shrimp with mushroom risotto to grilled catfish and salmon croquettes made from fresh salmon.

As a parent, why did you make it a point to introduce Sam to fish and seafood at a young age?

I think it’s all about what we introduce to kids at the earliest age in terms of what they will continue into the future. I actually like to cook, and cooking for my family is complicated because my wife, Stephanie, does not eat chicken. I have tried to cut down on our overall consumption of beef for a number of reasons, and seafood is the immediate go-to meal that keeps Stephanie, Sam and yours truly happy. I have this phrase stuck in my head of how fish is “brain food” which drives me to ensure that we are setting Sam up with the diet to facilitate his overall development.

Sam eats a healthy diet of seafood and vegetables. At the age of 2, do you notice a difference in his eating habits vs. his friends?

While a lot of kids his age are in the chicken fingers/nuggets stage, Sam will ask for and be content with food like fish, green beans, sweet potatoes (even outside of the context of candied yams), and the like. It has a lot to do with our constantly introducing different vegetables before he gets a chance to say he doesn’t like something that he’s never tried.

September is National Family Meals Month, is there anything special you do with your family during dinnertime? And why do you think this time is important for families?

We always eat at the table in the kitchen and never on the couch. We have a TV in the kitchen, but we rarely have it on when we eat. Like so many other families, meal time is often one of the few times when everyone is in the same room, doing the same thing. We just try to enjoy that moment as much as possible.

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