The Myth of ‘Kid Food’: Wanton Gods in a Hostile Universe
The design of the universe must be shoddy, or perhaps the universe and its gods are outright hostile to humans. One of the most ironic examples of the gods’ cruel mockery of us is that we humans are born with no desire for the healthy foods our bodies need. Instead, we’re born craving junk food.
Or so the thinking goes.
I’ve observed that at gatherings of both adults and children there often will be Real Food for the adults and “kid food”—usually pizza, maybe hotdogs, but generally highly processed—for the children. Because that’s what they like, don’t they? That’s What They Will Eat.
Some parents make two separate meals at home: one for the adults and another for their kids, because they know their kids won’t want what the adults eat.
“It’s unbelievable when a kid asks you to have shrimp or fish,” I heard one parent say.
Kids’ parties seem to always revolve around those foods we assume kids like. When it’s time to really celebrate, it’s time to let them gorge on loads of pizza, snacks, soda, candy, cake. That’s what makes them really happy, right?
We think dogs like bones, too. Actually, dogs like bones because that’s what they get, but they’d really rather have steak, whether they know it or not.
My cat, likewise, has developed a taste for manufactured cat food, which is engineered to taste good to him. That doesn’t mean it’s good for him. It’s full of grains, fillers and other stuff cats neither like nor were created to eat. He’d probably be less obese and would no doubt enjoy freshly hunted mouse way more than cat food, if he could get it.
Humans are born craving optimally nourishing foods—breast milk for example—not junk food, unless we are witnessing an ironically self-destructive evolutionary adaptation of modern humans to their environment. Yet another malicious trick of the wanton gods, who kill us for sport?
No, I suspect the answer is less fraught with destiny than that. The taste for junk food is easily acquired when that’s what a child is allowed to eat. The less junk a child gets and the more tasty healthy foods he’s given, the more he continues to enjoy what his body actually needs.
Our beliefs about what kids like will either limit them and entrench them in narrowness, or foster their fledgling appreciation of all good things.
If we act on the common assumption that children won’t like most vegetables, especially green ones, or whole grains, beans, fish, nuts, and even some fruits, that prophecy will be fulfilled. If we give children junk when they refuse to eat those foods that we know they won’t like, they quickly learn how to run the show. They also learn to worship at the altar of those tasty manmade false idols instead of pledging their appetites to Real Food.
But happily, wanton gods or no, we still have the choice of what foods to provide for our kids.
It’s been my experience that children are perfectly capable of liking healthy foods, the same foods adults eat. They are human, and just like adult humans, they can appreciate well-prepared, nourishing, varied, flavorful Real Food. Mine always have. I didn’t give them junk food; I offered them only healthy foods choices. They were hungry and that’s all there was to eat. No battles were needed. They just got used to eating healthy food, most of which also actually tasted pretty good, in order not to starve to death. It’s amazing how well that system can work.
Final score: victory for me and my children, defeat for the wanton gods.
Related post: “Eating Mindfully”
© Sacred Appetite / Anna Migeon / 28 April 2009 / All rights reserved
This post joined Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday on Oct. 23, 2009