Sometimes we walk through the supermarket amazed and bewildered by all of the organic or “healthy” foods designed for kids. When we look at some of the food that has been created to appeal to health-conscious parents, we wonder why food manufacturers go to such lengths to create products that are so very, very contrived. Haven’t they heard one of Michael Pollan‘s classic “rules” – Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food? And don’t they want kids to learn to appreciate good food too?
Yesterday we walked through the aisles at Whole Foods and puzzled over the Vegan Strawberry Chocolate Chip Dino Bites (hey, they’re vegan!) along with the Crispy Rice Peanut Chocolate Drizzle bars. In the cereal aisle, we pondered the Clifford Crunch, Gorilla Munch, and Organic Peanut Butter Pows. Further down the snack aisle, we had a good chuckle over the Tuscan Three-Cheese Pretzel Chips. Do you think that somewhere in a farmhouse in Tuscany, a mother is serving her children some homemade three-cheese pretzel chips? (No, but that reminds us of another classic Michael Pollan rule: You can eat as much junk food as you want, as long as you make it yourself.)
We get it, food manufacturers: We’ve said we want healthier food for our kids, and you’ve responded the only way you know how, which is to manufacture and market the heck out of it. But as parents, what we’d really love is something a little closer to just plain food. Even our three-year-old, who’s at an age where he’d eat just about anything with a funny shtick, said “no thanks” to the Vegan Strawberry Chocolate Chip Dino Bites. But he happily ate a strawberry, because at least he knew what that was.
What kids need is real food, not gimmicks. We’ll gladly pay for some good quality pretzels, but we sure don’t need them topped with cheese or shaped like endangered species. We’d love to serve our kids some healthy breakfast cereal and – news flash! – they’re OK with it being brown or tan-colored, like food really is. We’re happy to serve them granola or energy bars every now and then, but they don’t need to be frosted or drizzled with anything, even if it’s vegan.
Let’s help kids appreciate good food by supporting the manufacturers and choosing the products that are as close to “real food” as possible. If kids learn to enjoy good food now, it will set the stage for a lifetime of healthy eating.