Preachy post alert! One thing I have been irritated with over the past week is the concept of “kids’ food” and “kids’ menus”. My irritation began when Husband brought this article to my attention. I have many, many, many issues with the whole situation, but what makes me the most annoyed is that they are successfully ruining this young girl’s palate. Not only did a four-year-old have potato chips in her lunchbox (because she was a picky eater and would eat potato chips), but the government inspector replaced her turkey sandwich with chicken nuggets. Why? Because chicken nuggets fit some set of guidelines and are something “kids like”. News flash. You control what your kids eat. You can make them into little health nuts if you so choose.
Anecdotal evidence: My friend Helen’s son thinks that broccoli is a treat and will devour a vegetarian burrito bowl. My niece calls McDonald’s the “Apple Restaurant” because her favorite part is the apple slices they give in the Happy Meals. My younger brother preferred sorbet to ice cream when he was a kid. Children have attitudes about food that their parents project. My mom always made sure that my brother and I ate healthily. As a result, I have never had Cap’n Crunch, don’t drink pop (soda for you non-Midwesterners), and didn’t know what a Ho Ho was until I went to kindergarten. I’m all the better for it. Mom never would have thought to give my brother and I “kid food” for dinner. Birthday dinners for me consisted of Chicken Vesuvio, pork roast with dumplings and sauerkraut, or chicken marinara. These were foods that I actively enjoyed from a very young age. It made me challenging at other kids’ birthday parties because I hated hot dogs and hamburgers, but I never felt like I was missing anything. Kids will eat what you give them and will find things they like. You don’t have to give them pizza and chicken nuggets to make them happy.
This brings me to the idea of “kids food”. The idea makes me crazy. Even my beloved Trader Joe’s caters to this concept. In their cereal section, they have a shelf labeled “Kids’ Cereals” because there are animals on the box. You know what really makes a cereal for kids? The fact that you’re feeding it to a child. Why do kids have to eat tasteless or RIDICULOUSLY sugary items? Everything on a kids’ menu is blander than bland or has a title like “bubble gum”. We don’t give kids enough credit on what they will and won’t eat, which is why I am so annoyed at kids’ menus. Beyond kids’ menus, what really gets my goat are the government food guidelines as to what is acceptable in cafeterias.
The most appalling aspect regarding children and food is the politicization of food. Not just the politicization, but the fact that backing the potato and salt industries is more important than our children’s health. The government has stated that TWO TABLESPOONS of tomato paste counts as a vegetable; therefore, if a kid gets a slice of pizza, he’s consumed his vegetable for that lunch period. Super. I’m glad that Ben can forgo real tomatoes or spinach or broccoli and get some vegetables from a slice of pizza. It makes me so angry when one-third of children are obese that we’re still allowing them to eat pizza and french fries to their hearts’ content. Even more upsetting is that children who are on the free or reduced lunch program are getting these foods that are so blatantly bad for them. These are children whose families can’t pay for food let alone the health care that will be necessary due to years of poor nutrition. We “educate” our children on reading, writing, and math. Why not educate them on the wonders of fresh fruits and vegetables? Hate ObamaCare? Then, at least allow our children to eat properly to prevent them from all of the health complications associated with poor nutrition. Allow our children to be healthy!