Friday, July 2, 2010

What you don't know can't hurt you

Like that Fruit Roll-Ups and other fruit flavored snacks that are marketed to children as nutritious snacks are really actually quite bad for you. I know a lot of people are shocked by this, because advertising really is that effective. But let me tell you, it's not just General Mills (now being sued for it) that markets unhealthy fruit flavored snacks (containing hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup, among other things) to kids as a healthy treat. Just about every box of "fruit snacks" on the shelf has these ingredients. I know, cuz I've read the ingredients on them all. And I mean all of them. The Dora ones, the Scooby Doo ones, the Spongebob ones, the Shrek ones... With two hopeful little faces turned up at me waiting and hoping that this one won't have "the icky bad stuff" in it. But they all do.

So a part of me empathizes with angry parents who have been feeding their kids these "healthy" snacks all along, assuming that they really are healthy as advertised. Dishonest marketing amounts to coercive behavior in a culture in which we are inundated by advertising 24 hours a day. But another part of me is like "read the damn label before you feed it to your kids." Because if those ingredients are in there, it will say it right there on the label. And in a world full of crappy food and misleading advertising, reading food labels is just another part of parenting. I know, it sucks that we have to do this, and that the marketing industry is allowed to basically pit us against our children by making us constantly deny them the products they've been conditioned to desire. But that's what it means to be a parent in an advanced capitalist nation.

Welcome to the corporatocracy. Now read the label.


  1. Anonymous7/02/2010

    Dishonest marketing amounts to coercive behavior in a culture in which we are inundated by advertising 24 hours a day.

    So. fucking. true. I want to put this quote on a t-shirt.

  2. dirtyhippie7/02/2010

    Whatever happened to just eating fruit? You know, the real thing?

  3. I wonder if they'll have more success than the people who sue cereal companies for having misleading advertising in a name like "crunch berries." So far all the cases have been dismissed because a reasonable person would know that Captain Crunch is devoid of fruit.

  4. Anonymous7/03/2010

    And don't even get me started on how much crap there is in all the granola bars that are marketed as healthy.

  5. I'm with dirtyhippie on this. Probably the healthiest snack for kids is fruit. And you can always carry bags of dried fruit in the car or wherever.

  6. Yeah, I often let my kids make up their own trailmix with unsweetened dried fruit, whatever nuts they want, and a handful of dark chocolate chips. They love it and you can pack a bunch of bags of it to use when you're in a hurry or traveling. Sometimes they use wheat chex, pretzels, and nuts too.

  7. Anonymous7/03/2010

    Congratulations for expressing the sort of negative judgements that put off ordinary overworked, exhausted parents from having anything to do with politics. Not everybody has the time, energy or inclination to be just like you.

    Some kids just won't eat real fruit no matter what tricks you try.

  8. Reading the label takes like 14 seconds. For real.

  9. momofthree7/05/2010

    So then Anonymous, are you advocating that parents should uncritically feed their kids everything they ask for?

  10. Anonymous7/05/2010

    we have a rule when we shop for food, nothing with a cartoon character on the box. of course this doesn't keep out everything and we still read labels, but it is a good simple rule my four year can understand. AND we talk about advertising and how it's all about making you want things that aren't good for you. he gets it.

  11. "Some kids just won't eat real fruit no matter what tricks you try."

    I worked in a daycare for 9 years, and in my experience this was true. But all the kids like this were the ones who were never exposed to real foods. All they ever ate was processed crap, so that's all they wanted. We mostly fed them corn dogs and goldfish crackers and applesauce, so that's what they liked, and they refused other foods, like fruit. I think your tastes get acclimated to what you eat, so that's why it's even more important to expose kids to whole foods and a wide variety of flavors and textures early on.