I remember when my first child became mobile and we joined a playgroup. Goldfish flowed like water and I noticed she just wasn’t hungry for dinner. I also noticed how food was given to her at every turn, especially her first year of kindergarten. I began to detest kid menus at restaurants.
It seemed all my work at home, was being undone by the outside world that wanted to feed my kid, well, “kid food.”
Despite my frustration, I didn’t focus on changing the food environment outside of the home. There are times where I’ve tried to invoke change, but my focus has always been on helping families create a balanced food environment at home and teaching kids how to navigate the environment we have.
But Bettina Seigel, nationally recognized writer and founder of The Lunch Tray, tackles the food environment head-on. And we need more people like her.
Seigel wrote the ambitious book: Kid Food: The Challenge of Feeding Children in a Highly Processed World. In the book, she describes the landmines in the modern food landscape and how that relates to kids eating and health.
From how the kid’s menu started in restaurants, to the rise in highly processed kid options at the grocery store to advertising, Seigel paints a not-so-nice picture of what we are dealing with. This book is well researched with many expert interviews and stories from frustrated parents. The writing is engaging and provides a historical perspective, which makes it a good read
What exactly is “kid food”? There’s no precise definition, of course, but in 2018, I conducted an online survey asking my readers and other social media followers what the term meant to them. About 350 people responded—mostly moms but some dads and even a few grandparents also chimed in. And just one glance at their top answers, ranked here in descending order, tells you a lot about what American adults currently believe children will and won’t eat.
mac and cheese
hot dogs and corn dogs
“white” or “beige food”
grilled cheese or quesadillas
packaged “fruit” snacks
moodles or pasta
–From Kid Food
But it’s not just about the problem, Seigel offers a solution in the form of advocacy. After all, she was the one who instigated a petition that got over a quarter-million signatures to put an end to pink slime served at schools. The chapter (Pushing Back) is all about best practices for bringing about change. The stories of everyday moms and groups are inspiring and Seigel provides advice on how to get started and make a difference.
Seigal ends the book with four wishes to help change the food landscape to a healthier one for our kids and future generations. The appendix is full of resources to help parents manage and possibly change the food environment for good.
We are lucky enough to have an extra copy of Kid Food for one of my readers. If you are interested in entering to win a copy, just leave a comment as to why you want to read this book. The giveaway will end a week from today Thursday, January 9th at midnight.