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What is 'Kids' Food,' Really?

There's an interesting blog by David L. Katz over at US News & World Report about the concept of "kids' food" and what it means to our species. It's worth reading, a different perspective from a father of five who asks us to:

"Imagine the alternative reality in which the wolf pack makes a kill, but the cubs don't wait their turn to get at that meat. Imagine if, instead of learning to eat what their parents eat, 'kid' wolves ate heart, moon, star and clover-shaped multicolored marshmallows (or perhaps, being wolves, their marshmallows would be shaped like hare, moose, stag and caribou; but it's the same general concept)."

The notion of kids' food and kids' menus is rooted in the struggle of parents to picky eaters, just trying to get them some nourishment. I know that before I had a kid, I was your regular kids' food guru.

"I'm going to make homemade baby food, and then I'll introduce all kinds of fresh fruits and veggies and pack them into cute little Bento boxes," I would say. You can see this kind of naivete on the Pinterest boards of people who don't have kids yet, titled things like "Maybe Baby" or something like that. I was naive, too.

Now, my daughter, who just turned 4, has proved me wrong. It's not easy to get them to eat healthy. Not easy to get them to eat, period. She doesn't even like the typical kid's menu type stuff. Chicken fingers? No thanks, Mama. She doesn't like pancakes or cereal. She's got an extremely limited range of choices that's subject to change at a moment's notice. Right now, she'll have salami, smoked salmon and tuna salad. Strangely, she's up on the chef's foraging trend, eating basil leaves off a plant or mulberries from my mom's yard. On a recent vacation, I actually ordered her the Lox & Bagel platter at a restaurant. That's my kid's menu. Please don't write to me that your kid eats edamame and loves it. Don't. Wanna. Know.

Processed foods are made to get kids to like them and to have some nutrients in them. As a parent, sometimes that's a good enough reason, but, as Katz writes:

"Our mythology implies that multi-colored marshmallows masquerading as food are part of what make childhood special and fun. Our mythology implies that without a little help from Madison Avenue and pseudo-food, we would be helpless to deal effectively with fussy little Homo sapien eaters."

So what do you think about "kids' food?"


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