Home > Abnormal Food Behaviors & Attitudes > To Melissa G., the Recessionary Grocery Shopper: The Official Kid-Will-Eat-It Guidelines

To Melissa G., the Recessionary Grocery Shopper: The Official Kid-Will-Eat-It Guidelines


Dear Melissa G.,

Congratulations! You have been named “ground zero for the new austerity” by one of our food industry giants, according to an article I just read in Advertising Age.  Industrial edibles manufacturers, scrambling to keep their profits up while consumers like you look for ways to spend less, are taking a hard look at you, the average grocery shopper, and how you think and behave.  Melissa, you represent today’s Every Mom:  the very picture of the grocery-shopping parent. You are the bull’s eye of the target for processed food manufacturers in this economic downturn.

It’s quite an honor, and a responsibility, a sacred destiny even, Every Mom. The wellbeing of the American child is in your hands.

While Campbell Soup was analyzing your habits and attitudes so they can sell you more stuff, I took the liberty of looking through the open window on your life to gain my own understanding of you as the American Every Mom.

NameBrandscanThe first conclusion I drew about you, Melissa, is that the top criteria behind your food choices is not cost, ease or speed, nor any USDA food pyramid or other so-called expert recommendations. The number one guideline for you is simply what your kids are willing to eat. All other considerations are secondary. You continue to pay the higher costs for name-brand products if that’s all your kids will accept, for example. It seems logical, after all: if the kid won’t eat it, what good does it do to buy it?

You don’t take must much risk in buying anything they might not eat, as you explained to Campbell, because the alternative is giving up a “happy, peaceful and quiet” mealtime. Peace at the table is a good thing.

And who could blame you?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I notice, Every Mom, that you don’t mention as a consideration how nutritious the food is that you are buying. Of course, if they won’t eat it, what use is being nutritious?

You mention giving your kiddos canned soup, boxed macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, lemonade and pudding snacks, along with milk, meat and yogurt.  But I get the idea your little ones aren’t much on fruits and vegetables. What’s up with that?

shunVegetablesscanNot that you and your family’s eating fruits or vegetables is in the interest of industrial food marketers, who want to sell you their processed edibles. The more fruit and vegetables you eat, the less room in your kids’ tummies for their artificial foodstuffs.

You may wonder: how did we get to this place? I’m sure you know that vegetables and fruits are good for your children, and it’s certainly not that you don’t care, but like many moms, maybe you just don’t seem to be able to make your kids eat things like that.

Yet, we have a problem. Our kids are predicted to live shorter lives than our generation. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental illness and every other kind of diet-related health problem just keeps getting worse. What, you may ask, can I do about it? I’m just Every Mom. You may feel you have no power over this enormous problem, and that what you’re doing is “good enough” or simply the best you can do. Most other parents are doing things the same way.

You may feel solitary in your destiny, as appointed to you alone. But how you fulfill this destiny affects so many. Don’t expect food manufacturers and chain restaurants, which express such interest in you, to help you out here. Their profit comes from your kids’ consumption of detrimental stuff, which they so temptingly advertise.

Chicknnuggetsscan

But you are precisely the one who could do something about it. It’s really all up to you. You have dominion over your children’s eating habits. You’ve been put where you are for an important purpose. It’s no small or meaningless task, to see to it that our children grow up healthy.  It may seem impossible, but isn’t it worth even an heroic effort, if that’s what it takes?

But let me encourage you:  you don’t need the food industry’s help to feed your kids fruit and vegetables. Your job is mainly to get your children to like what’s good for them. Then the eating part comes naturally. You have all the influence you need here. You might be surprised how good the foods our bodies are designed to eat can taste, especially to a hungry kid who hasn’t filled up on junk food. All you need is some good recipes. I can share a few with you that are easy, fast, nutritious and delicious. I’d be so glad to help.

I’m afraid I can’t let you off the hook on this one.  You know what’s best for your kids, so don’t put them in charge of decisions that are yours alone. It’s your job, so be the parent.

From one mom to another,

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©Sacred Appetite / Anna Migeon / 1 October 2009 / All rights reserved

Featured on Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday, Oct. 16

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  1. October 17, 2009 at 12:01 am

    wow! This is one of the most original blog posts I’ve seen on the topic. Thanks for the reminder that a hungry kid will eat what you give them! I wonder if kids can get addicted to the MSG and other processed stuff in these canned, prepackaged, fast food items that they seem to whine for and crave. It would be better to wean them off the junk now rather than later when she has less control. I bet her kids would have peaceful meal times if they ate more nourishing traditional foods. They’d be less jittery and agitated I think.

    • Anna Migeon
      October 23, 2009 at 2:41 pm

      Lisa, thanks so much for reading my post, and I’m happy you found it original. I wrote a second part to that post, also responding to the American Every Mom’s ways of feeding her kids. I do think kids definitely get addicted to sugar, and that crummy foods or foods we are actually allergic to can provoke an addiction-type response. We crave what is actually harming us and have to get a fix, and it’s a vicious cycle. I don’t think Melissa, the American Every Mom, even has any clue that she should be doing things different. That’s one of the main things that astonishes me with her. How can we have a positive impact on people like her, I wonder.

  2. October 5, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Hi Anna,
    I know my comment sounded harsh as contrasted especially with your gentleness.
    Though we have rules about eating, there is no crying or wailing at the table or kids sitting for hours in front of their plates. The kids simply know that they have to at least try things before rejecting them and that they won’t be served something else if they make the choice not to eat. (This alone is, I believe, the biggest mistake mom’s make – taking the role of short order cook) And the kids are given the choice to eat or not (but stay hungry). The food is made fresh, from scratch and I certainly do my best to make it appealing and delicious. Children are fickle, fickle, fickle. They may hate beets one day and love them the next. When I hear a mom say “my Billy doesn’t like corn…” I always think, “well today maybe, but offer some tomorrow and see what happens!” And don’t reinforce it by saying “I know you don’t like corn…” I also try never to say that I don’t like something. My husband especially models adventurous eating and gratitude for every meal. It makes a difference!
    I have just discovered your blog and will explore the posts on this subject for sure. So far I’m very impressed!

    • Anna Migeon
      October 15, 2009 at 4:11 pm

      I agree that being a short order cook is the quickest way for a mom to dig herself into a hole. I think they are afraid of their kids’s hunger. I wrote a post about that here: http://sacredappetite.wordpress.com/2008/12/19/hunger-to-fear-or-not-to-fear/
      I also agree that if we express our own dislikes, they’re pretty likely to grab onto them.
      Thanks for your comments!

  3. October 4, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Dear Clay vessel, thanks for responding to the post. I’m glad to hear your kids turned out to be adventurous eaters. I take a very different approach and while I’m all for rules of behavior for being at the table, and very big on regular meals, I would never tell kids they had to eat anything, or how much they had to eat. I think making them eat in order to get a dessert amounts to force feeding. I just don’t give kids options (i don’t make it available if I don’t think they should be eating it, nor do I fix something different for them on demand), try to make my food healthy and enticing, and they’re hungry, so it tastes good to them. I have so many posts on these subjects I don’t have just one to point you to if you’re curious. But there is more than one way to skin a cat, as they say. I started this post (letter to Every Mom) very harsh, but I decided to experiment with really talking to moms like this. I know I can preach to the choir, but can I say something that might actually speak to the many real moms just like her out there? That’s the hard thing. The first thing I thought when I read the article about her, honestly was, “What a dumbass.” But how can I help and inspire her? That’s what I want to try to do.

  4. October 4, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    Thanks so much!! I value your opinion!

  5. October 4, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    Greg, thanks for the encouraging compliment! I’m still trying to figure out what’s funny about this post as I didn’t really expect that reaction. But I’m glad you think so!

  6. October 3, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    Very gently put. Maybe too gently put.
    “I never cease to be amazed…”
    What is it about today’s mothers’ aversion to discipline? Or maybe they simply don’t know how to enforce rules. Rules like, “no dessert unless you eat your vegetables.” “Nothing else to eat unless you eat what’s on your plate.” Yes, I’ve heard the psychology about how this could create a love/hate relationship with food, but I can only respond that I have raised seven children with rules like this (and pages of others) and all my kids are adventurous eaters, now by choice. One even went to Peru and ate cuy (guinea pig) when necessary.
    It seems the evidence for not having such rules points to a result of picky eaters. It also breeds the “Live to eat” attitude rather than “Eat to Live”.

  7. gnoll
    October 1, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    Write a book or something, your hysterical!

  8. October 1, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Ha ha ha! I love this post!

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