Plenty of people out in blogger land regularly bemoan the fact that “kid food,” for most people, is fried, fake, and/or filled with artificial colors or flavors. It’s my turn, I guess.
We’ve got a big kid-centric event coming up. We’ve gone for the past five years, and it’s always lots of fun. Quite honestly, the food is really secondary. There’s so much going on that most kids — including my own — aren’t really looking to eat. Still, I’ve always managed to get Big Girl to take a bunch of bites of her pizza, which is what’s always been served. This year, however, the choices were different: hamburgers, hot dogs, or chicken nuggets, all of which are being served with a side of French fries.
My biggest problem is the fact that Big Girl won’t eat any of these things. Not even that I won’t let her eat them. No, it’s more like she just doesn’t see any of these things as a food choice. I’m not a hamburger person, so we don’t have burgers. Hence, the kids don’t eat burgers. The same goes for hot dog. The only time I make them is when I’m preparing for game night, and even then they are uncured, organic hot dogs. By the time they hit the table, the kids are asleep, so they’ve really never eaten them. As for the nuggets: occasionally I will make for dinner either Bell and Evans air-chilled chicken strips or chicken cutlets that I egg, bread, and fry myself. I don’t serve either very often because Little Girl outright refuses to eat them. Big Girl will kinda sorta eat them, but she’d prefer a nice grilled chicken sandwich instead.
Okay, so what to do with my event lunch issue? I ended up asking the person running the event if it was possible to get pizza. Thankfully, I was told that yes, I could get a slice of concession stand pizza. While that’s also iffy — my kids are pizza snobs like my husband — I’ve got a chance of getting a few bites in them. And just to make sure they don’t go hungry I will also be packing a few sandwiches. (Probably sunflower butter and jelly for Big Girl and plain sunflower butter for Little Girl.)
Now would be the time that I would usually start complaining about the lack of healthy kid choices at most events, but I’m just tired of making the effort. I will point out that study after study finds that what kids eat is one of the biggest contributing factors in the childhood obesity problem.
For instance, a University of Michigan study found that, “…children who are obese were more likely to consume school lunch instead of a packed lunch from home and spend two hours a day watching TV or playing a video game.” Hmm. Crappy processed food plus hours sitting on the couch equal extra pounds. Definitely not a stretch. Another study — this one from Southern Methodist University and funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture — found a direct link between federal school lunches and childhood obesity. Makes sense to me! Have you seen what most schools are serving for lunch? Hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken fingers!
Unfortunately, we will probably keep seeing studies like this for a while. The bad news is that nothing is going to change until more people start asking for healthy choices and our government and school districts start mandating real, whole, un-fried food. After all, money talks. Until then I’ll just keep packing lunches for my kids. How about you?
This post is how I am participating this week in Real Food Wednesdays and Fight Back Fridays — two awesome campaigns to get people eating real food again.