I can remember sitting down to snacks of powdered mashed potatoes or macaroni and cheese. (Even as a child I craved carbs!) I’d come home to an empty house and want to eat something. My mom was not one to buy a lot of junk food, but she did buy boxed side dishes. And so I’d boil water, drop my potato flakes or macaroni into the pan, and a few minutes later be eating. It wasn’t good for me. It wasn’t even that tasty. But it filled the bill of a cheap, quick meal.
My mom had to work like so many parents do today. She was on a very fixed budget that had to stretch very far. We always had wonderful dinners. I can’t remember many nights when we didn’t get a warm, home-cooked meal. But when it came to snacks there just wasn’t any disposable income, so I ate cans of Spaghetti-Os and meatballs, a few pickles, a bowl of cereal. It was what was available and affordable for us.
It’s really easy to sit in a tower and declare that chips or cookies or Gogurt is bad for kids when I have enough money to buy organic yogurt, fruit, and puddings for my kids. But I know better. I can’t call someone out for being a bad parent because they can’t afford to spend $3.99 a pound on organic grapes. (What my kids had for dessert tonight.) How can I condemn someone for giving a kid access to “bad” food when by definition I ate what was known as “bad food” way back when.
The difference today is that everything available and affordable is also filled with tons of garbage — preservatives, high fructose corn syrup (soon to be called corn sugar!). I wonder what my after-school snacks would have been like if I was born 15 years later? Would I be eating Gogurt, too? Interesting to think about, of course. I just don’t know…