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…

blSimpsons
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.

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§ 8 Responses to Food is NOT Fun – Part Two

  • shadyladypdx says:

    Well, my friend…you know where I stand on food. Rule of thumb, if you can’t make it in your kitchen, you shouldn’t eat it. There’s also a funny (or maybe not so funny) quote, “Just because you can eat it, doesn’t mean that it’s food.” The only processed foods you’ll find in my pantry are tomato paste, tuna, olives, pure olive oil, vinegar, well…you get my point. 🙂

    • Sheri says:

      Thanks for the comment Shady. I’m definitely seeing a general trend of people being wiser and more conscious about what they decide is actually food. Glad to see people thinking critically about such an important issue.

  • Torontonanny says:

    Interesting thoughts here. I definitely agree with the “fun size” trend being pretty stupid. And I’m concerned with how much sugar is in kids’ food in order for it to be more palatable. The kids I look after are happy with blueberries and Kashi cereal, thanks.

  • MaryP says:

    Thanks for the link! It’s funny, because when I sat down to write the post you linked to, I was intending to say something very like this! Then I noticed a different thought developing, so that’s the one I went with, but in my draft files is a post about what is marketed as “snack food” and how, as shadylady says, much of it isn’t even really “food”. I sometimes call that stuff “edible non-food items”.

    (Have you read Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food”? He tackles that idea — what is food? Just because you can eat it doesn’t make it food.)

    AND I have a second post in the works about the idea of enjoying your food, based on a quote I found. I agree that it’s nuts to think we have to convince kids that food is FUN!!! Instead of tricking them into eating things, how about we spend more time teaching kids to really, truly, enjoy the real pleasure of REAL food?

    • Sheri says:

      Hi Mary! You’re welcome for the link, I certainly thought your post worthy…it sure had me thinking. No I haven’t read Micheal Pollan’s book but it does sound interesting. I’m looking forward to your next post on the topic. 😀

  • MaryP says:

    p.s. Nice makeover! You probably did it ages and ages ago: I’m not visiting other people’s blogs much at all any more, and I miss out on these things!

    • Sheri says:

      Thanks! Yes, it was some time ago. It’s likely lasted this long because I haven’t posted much lately. Usually, like furniture, I tend to switch it up when I get bored. Glad you stopped by.

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