Food is NOT Fun – Part Two
January 30, 2013 § 8 Comments
Back in August I did a post called Food is NOT Fun where I
pseudo ranted about marketers and their quest to get parents believing that food must be FUN in order to get our kids to eat it.
Today I was reading at It’s Not All Mary Poppins and Mary has an excellent post about snacking that reminded me just how strongly I feel about the whole issue. In a response to one of her comments Mary said…
“(And don’t get me started on junk food masquerading as ‘healthy’. Chocolate chip- and marshmallow-studded granola bars? Puh-lease…)”
I’m so with Mary on this and well, I am going to get started because I think the fact that these products exist at all speaks volumes about how marketing affects not only our choices but how it shapes how we perceive reality and the subsequent beliefs this (false) perception encourages us to hold, especially as parents.
First and foremost, as a rule kids do not, I repeat, DO NOT need encouragement to eat. Anyone with a toddler knows they will put pretty much anything in their mouths and try to digest it. I remember sitting Daughter down on a patch of dirty grass in a friend’s backyard when she was no more than 10 months old.
She wriggled and jiggled atop the prickly grass and became fascinated with pulling the shoots out of the ground. She was even more intrigued by the clumps of dirt that would accompany her prey.
Where did most of her spoils end up? Along with all over hands, down her shirt and even into her diaper they ended up in her mouth. Her muddy, grass stained grin was all the evidence I needed that this child would never go hungry.
Kids will eat because they need to do so to live. They may not know much about the world around them but even babies have instincts that tell them food is a requirement for survival. As a species, eating is one of our most basic needs and functions.
So why on earth do we need marketing executives to tell parents to tell food companies that they need to make food FUN so little Johnny or Suzie will eat it? (Please note the irony of the fact that said marketers are hired and paid by said food companies.)
Food doesn’t need to be fun, it just needs to be there. We are being conditioned to believe that our children won’t eat at all unless their food is stuffed with candy, covered in chocolate or accompanied by a sugar laden “dip” dressing. The message being that plain cereal and carrot sticks are gross to kids and the only way they’ll eat them is to serve them with a side of crap that is detrimental to their health.
The following image reflects another aspect of this “food is fun” trend that I found particularly amusing in its delivery…
How many “snacks” are labeled as FUN SIZE? Candy bars, frozen pizza, potato chips and cans of pop come to mind. All crap, all just empty calories. So we are being led to believe that the more FUN something is, the better it is. Notice how “fun size” often means smaller but for the same price or even more?
Funny that broccoli and spinach don’t come in a fun size. Weird that a 2lb bag of oatmeal and a 4 pint bag of frozen blueberries cost the same as 2 packs of Blueberry Breakfast Tarts. Where the former can sustain a person for a couple of weeks, the latter might get them through a couple of days.
Where’s the FUN in that?
Okay, I think I got away from myself a little but I stand by my thoughts. Perhaps I’ll expand later.