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.
The 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?
Not 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.
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,
©Sacred Appetite / Anna Migeon / 1 October 2009 / All rights reserved