Kids Eat the Darndest Things

By Beacon Staff

With a tip of my toque to Art Linkletter and Bill Cosby and their very funny television shows from a long time ago, I choose to write about the youngest among us and how we’re forming their eating habits.

There’s another “reality” show currently on television, called, “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution,” featuring Jamie Oliver, the English chef who originally came to fame as “The Naked Chef” on Food Network. Naked, in this case, referred to his use of pure and unadulterated foods and ingredients. He’s taken the same concept – sort of – for his latest television gig.

Chef Jamie goes to Huntington, W.V., named by a government survey, “The Unhealthiest City in America,” for its incidences of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other maladies. And it’s no wonder, looking at the school lunch menus that Jamie wants to change.

The milk rarely appears in its original color and is flavored with chocolate and strawberry; the main feature of the breakfast tray is pizza; lunch is chicken nuggets (has anyone yet figured out where the nugget is on a chicken?); and the trays are loaded with additional carbohydrates and fat-laden fried foods.

The plot thickens: Jamie tries to change the menu, as he did successfully in England and received an honor from the Queen for doing it. But he runs up against the school administration bureaucracy and, worse, the lunch ladies who have to prepare the food.

He goes into a kindergarten class and the kids can’t identify any vegetables. One kid thinks tomatoes are potatoes. The whole class is completely mystified by eggplant. He cooks a healthy lunch and, we are not surprised, the kids hate it and most of the food ends up in the trash.

As of this writing, the series is still going on, but we’re certain there will be a happy ending of some sort. We’ve already seen him take a morbidly obese 12-year old under his wing and teach him how to cook healthier for the whole family.

My point? Well, I have several. First, I recently began cooking for a client who has special dietary needs and I paid much closer attention to labels than I normally would. I am stunned by the vast number of products in the grocery store that contain high fructose corn syrup. Do we really need this stuff? Why not add plain sugar or honey?

Second, have you noticed the sodium numbers on jarred and canned food? Average adult daily intake of sodium should be less than 2,200 milligrams. But you can get nearly half that in a can of chicken noodle soup! Table salt is not the problem. Salt in the cooking process is not the problem. Sodium in all of these prepared foods is the problem.

Third, I know it’s easier to just throw something in the microwave, or bring home prepared food or fast food take-out. I know how hard you work during the day and how exhausting it can be to have to come home and cook a full-blown dinner for your family, especially if both spouses are working, or you’re a single parent. But think of what you’re putting into those little growing bodies. Unfortunately, fat is flavor, so we have to be creative to figure out ways to make our food taste better without the heaps and heaps of fat, sodium and high fructose corn syrup.

How? Julia Child said it best: “Everything in moderation.” I am not advocating that you never eat fat, or have salt in your food, or even high fructose corn syrup.

I believe if we feed our children better food, and moderate their intake of fast food and the other tempting crap that’s put before them on a day-to-day basis, their bodies and their brains will be stronger.

Surely your child knows the difference between a tomato and a potato. Doesn’t she?

Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.

Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.