Monday, January 24, 2011

Chickens do not have fingers.

i recently posted a link on my facebook page that caused a bit of really good conversation. the link was to a site for a product called "kid cuisine" a frozen "meal" designed especially for children (and daft parents) that boasts "real ingredients like white-meat chicken, real cheese, vegetables and premium beef."  The ad copy goes on to extol the virtues of kid cuisine's whole grains, important vitamins, and minerals and nutrients like calcium and protein (none of which exists in usable form in this product - not to mention the microwave preparation which destroys nutrient value in food).  for $4.99 you get to choose from bug safari chicken breast nuggets, grilled cheese, campfire hot dogs, cheese blaster mac and cheese, rockin' ravioli, deep sea adventure fish sticks, magical cheese crust pizza and many more, all with inappropriate sugar laden crap side dishes, blah, blah you get my drift.  for some this might seem like a bargain but its not. it's effects are costly and dear. nowhere on the site does it say organic. nowhere on the site does it say no hormones or antibiotics. nowhere on the site does it mention the use of GMOs. nowhere on the site does it say a word about the plastic trays being BPA free. it's a pity this poison doesn't kill instantly, then we could easily illustrate how deadly it really is and have it ripped from the grocery store shelves. instead it slowly makes our children sick, fat and stupid. it distorts our children's perception of healthy nutrition and kills slowly and painfully. it hurts our kids and is definitely not what we should prepare to bring our family2table. okay, so, that's enough time wasted talking about this putrid, poisonous, empty, SAD (standard american diet) excuse for food that ConAgra Foods, Inc. is currently pushing on our innocent children via their uneducated and economically depressed parents.    

the bigger issue here calls for an examination of what is "kid food" and why we as a culture have decided that children should be gastronomically segregated and eat differently (read:poorly).  in my opinion there is really only one time in a human's life when they should eat food that is completely apart from all others and that is from the time we are born until we are between 6 and 8 months old.  that food is breastmilk.  nature's most perfect food (as is all raw milk). it nourishes for proper body growth and brain development, imparts an immune system, a digestive system and so much more.  when a baby is able to sit up on its own and self feed, then it is time to introduce solids.  that's when new mothers panic.  i get a lot of calls from new moms asking me to teach them how to make baby food. my first reaction is sure, i'll get paid to show you how to mash up what you're eating (provided you are eating well).  then i remember that new mothers want to do everything perfectly.  rule #1 is stay away from jarred baby foods.  they have additives, preservatives and are bland tasting which sets baby up for wanting more bland food. blech! this leads me to another great reason to breastfeed.  the diverse flavors that make their way from the mother's diet into the milk change it's flavor at every feeding.  a formula fed baby receives the same overly sugared flavor at every feeding and therefore becomes conditioned to expect and then want the same thing at every meal. the perfect petri dish for the birth of a picky eater.

"kid cuisine" should not exist. end of story. a proper diet for growing children should. however, if there has to be a category called "kid food," or as some people call it "kid friendly food," then i recommend changing the paradigm.  a complete do-over. i would challenge that no one has ever had a hard time learning to love pizza, fried chicken, plain pasta with butter, hot dogs, burgers, grilled cheese, french fries, ice cream etc. these foods are easy to love and don't require much practice or education. i propose that we turn "kid food" on it's head. imagine going to a restaurant and seeing a children's menu (another vile invention) that offered the freshest wild sushi, chicken liver mousse, seared wild alaskan salmon, braised greens, lamb stew, caviar, fermented veggies, grass-fed burgers, pastured egg and cheese omelette, stewed chicken on the bone with fresh herbs, grass-fed butter and oxtail jam on sourdough toast and raw milk ice cream sweetened with maple syrup. what a revelation! nutrient dense foods designed to promote growth, brain development, healthy digestion and an educated palate.  as for restaurants who want to offer a "children's option," i recommend a small plate option at a reduced price, or an appetizer size of an entree that already exists on the menu. on the rare occasion that my family does venture out to a restaurant these days we always share, as portions in most restaurants are already way too big.

as a mother, a chef and a cooking instructor, here is my big secret to getting children to be good eaters....come closer.....are you ready? children will eat what we feed them. we make the rules and we control the food supply.  of course it helps if you, the parents (aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc), demonstrate good eating habits and include the children in the meal planning and preparation.  but, from the time they are able to eat solids, we MUST consistently provide the foods that will shape their eating habits.  once they are out of the home and in school -- and children are being sent to school and daycare earlier and earlier these days -  we lose a certain amount of influence and the battle becomes more difficult. as a matter of fact i have a real problem with the way schools and restaurants undermine parents when it comes to feeding our children. school lunch menus follow the lead of restaurant "children's menus" and dumb down the choices to the usual toddler fodder and load them up with empty carbs that will not make for stable blood sugar during the course of a day. this results in the child needing to snack often (usually on more carbs - rice cakes, crackers, gold fish, etc that burn as sugar and keep the vicious cycle going) and leads to lack of focus and irritable behavior. in my humble opinion, no one should be responsible for feeding (nourishing) my kids except me. that is the sacred right of every parent to know exactly what is fueling their child's perfect body.  that is why i recommend preparing and packing your child's lunch everyday.  i also recommend having a conversation with the other parents in the class regarding snacks and those ridiculous birthday cupcakes that keep popping up every other day. sugar does not make for a very good time when it comes to children's developing bodies and brains.  cupcakes are not kid cuisine. remember? there is no such thing as kid cuisine! 

okay. i am going to stop now but i will not leave you all feeling depressed and without hope. you and your children are all going to be just fine.  you will figure it out, eat well, grow to be big and strong and see your efforts pay dividends for generations to come. i love the saying "be the person you want your children to be." i am asking you to please eat the foods and practice the nutrition, health and wellness you would like your children to eat and practice.  that is the best start.  bring only real food into the house and they will only eat real food (fresh, local, organic and whole).  family meal time is family real time. real food, real love and real relationships. that's what brings our family2table.  


  1. love your blog Emily, keep on posting!
    - Priscilla

  2. thanks, priscilla. i am having a really great time with it.

  3. Agree with you on the crappy kids meals, but..
    What's wrong with GMOs? Aside from the horror stories of some mutant virus that is. I'm sure there are some very good genetically modified veggies, growth organically even - Can you reference any study that says all GMOs are bad? For that matter is there a single reasonably accepted study that shows any GMOs to be bad? I'm sure some very organic bacon fat will kill you a lot faster than a genetically modified green bean. I'd like to know more about the mechanics of how a GMO can kill you.

  4. thanks for reading, Jim.
    check this site out.

  5. Em - All so true. It reminded me how much I hate going out to dinner with my kids. Not because they're so noisy or cumbersome, but because they inevitably eat from the kids menu which is ALWAYS the same tasteless, pointless stupid things: chicken fingers, blah pizza, french fries. Thanks for reminding me I've go to order for them from the regular menu. Or just keep on keeping on in the kitchen at home. XO, Em

  6. I agree on avoiding the corporate pseudofoods... but what about when you have a picky kid? It happens. Believe me, we have offered and modeled all kinds of nutritious and interesting things. She will happily starve herself rather than eat a flavor or texture that offends her mouth. I think it correlates with other sensory issues. I would love more tips on how to work around these things in more healthful ways. I've already mastered making our own "chicken fingers" and soaking oats and making our own granola, and always cooking her separate meat without any spices or sauces, and a few other tricks.

  7. jeni, how old is your daughter? does she like to help out in the kitchen? go shopping with you? i find that most children, (mine included) when involved in the process of creating, have a real sense of pride and ownership and will therefore be more likely to participate. family mealtime becomes performance with eating as the final act that all want to be involved in. i have also experienced success with children who have sensory issues when we play a texture "tasting game" where we bring foods of different textures to the table and discuss what we think they might feel like and taste like. then we close our eyes when we taste them and describe them using silly, descriptive "positive" language and how that food makes us feel. it's a lot of trial and error which can be frustrating, i know. keep up the great work and make it as fun and creative for you as possible. thanks for reading!

  8. Hey, I know those cute kids!! Especially the little fellow cooking at the stove! This is so great Emily. You have my brain churning considering the amount of issues addressed-from benefits and constraints of breast feeding, to factors affecting optimal development, along with the tremendous responsibility we have to respect and advocate for the rights of the child..they all are interrelated and reflect much bigger cultural issues. I have seen the difference in children's (along with my own) well-being and quality of life based on good or poor health and nutrition. The difference is I have control over my own choices, good or bad, while children are dependent on others to do it for them during these important years. Plus, from personal experience I can confirm that its much easier to develop good habits than to break bad ones. Great Emily, really! my first blog experience actually. Aren't u proud of me?! So get to work ems..Can't wait for the next one!!!!!

  9. Hi RD Jim,
    first you ahve to understand what GMo means. I am
    sure you have heard of Monsanto, if not they are a huge chemical company.
    They make a pesticide called Roundup. What they
    found when the first started spraying was
    the chemical was so potent it was destroying crops as well as buds! So they
    literally injected Roundup in the seed ( hence the term GMO)
    they literally injected Roundup into the Gene of the plant. Now the plant were 'Roundup ready".
    The problem the plant themselves are now pesticides in the the very DNA of the food.
    By the way just an aside join Westin price or at least look at the site , Bacon fat
    is not what you think in terms of dangerous foods.

  10. "it's a pity this poison doesn't kill instantly"
    I know, right? My kids point out all the "poison" in the grocery store and everyone's cart, but some of the older ones have pointed out that they know people who eat those things who aren't dead. It's a little harder to explain that some poisons work slowly, or make you sick or increase your risk of death. It sure would be easier to identify if it did work a little faster. :)
    I'm a new subscriber from a real food media blog where you guested. It's nice to have others with whom to fight this uphill battle against the SAD.

  11. Preach it! When we hear a parent say, "All my child will eat is chicken fingers" or "pizza", my husband and I just look at each other because we are both thinking, "All our children eat is what we put in front of them because that's all they are going to get". My kids love real food because they learned early on that they didn't have to eat, but real food is all they get. It works for us!

  12. Late on the comments here but I once worked for a wise doctor who said exactly what you did but ethnically. Korean kids eat Korean food, Cuban kids eat Cuban food, Ethiopian kids eat Ethiopian food. Kids eat what they are fed. It was a joy to raise children who would eat anything. While my brother and his wife were worried about finding a "white" food on the menu, I would go down the list with my boys explaining what that Greek thing was knowing that whatever they chose they would probably like.