“Family Life is Better when your kids are Healthy! FIBER is an essential part of a healthy diet.” I’ll give you three guesses where I came across this slogan. (1) A carton of prunes. (2) A package of All Bran. (3) The side of a Froot Loops box. If you guessed (3), congrats.
Huh? Consider the ingredients list on the opposite side of the box. First in line is sugar, 7th is partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. (For those who may not know, ingredients are always listed in their order of prevalence.) But don’t worry, just a little further down are all your various artificial food dyes, now associated with behavior and attention issues in kids, among other things. How has it come to this? The food industry can be blamed, for sure. They manipulate and massage the truth to push sales. The FDA has a big role—for allowing this sort of cynical, misleading advertisement. But, really, we consumers are to blame. If we didn’t seek short-cuts and go into the supermarket with eyes wide shut, attempting to shirk the responsibility for our families’ health by swallowing the ludricious health claims printed on packaged food, the food industry would behave differently. It would be in its interest to do so. They only try to sell what they think we will buy. If we laughed at the Froot Loops box, rather than reading it and thinking, “Great! This cereal looks and tastes like edible garbage, but it’s really healthy cuz it says ‘fiber’!”—Kelloggs would have no reason to continue with the snow job.
Perhaps I’m overlooking the education piece. Some parents don’t know better—they lack the resources or support to make good food choices. I sympathize with them—especially those who live in places like my hometown, Detroit, where finding even the most minimal selection of fresh produce is a challenge. But the parents I’m taking to task are those who have no excuse for not knowing better, including some of my own acquaintances who have decided not to pay attention. It is, of course, easier not to know and not to change. And for those parents who have spent years feeding their kids crap, why should they want to know? It challenges their comfort zone and undermines their view of their own parenting. Okay, it’s harsh, but I’ve run out of patience with the parents out there who are smart enough to earn a graduate degree at a fancy university but too dumb to say No! to Froot Loops for their kids’ breakfast.