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Kids Are People Too

Posted by on April 28 2009 in Rants & Raves, Trends

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Someone, somewhere, started the philosophy that children are unable to eat the same food as adults.  The “kid friendly” slogan attached itself to many restaurants and prepared food brands which successfully enticed parents to let their children eat crap. But really, what makes food kid friendly?

The fact that these offerings are (normally) junk food?
The fact that kids are happier when they’re eating fat?
The fact that their choices are all delicious deep fried?

I know some kids truly don’t care for certain foods, the same way I don’t like fruit flavored yogurt or squid sashimi. However, it’s impossible for a child to dislike everything but fried potatoes.

Adults have a variety of choices, yet the kids menu normally consists of only a few options: chicken fingers, macaroni and cheese or hot dogs. Why can’t a lobster or fettuccine alfredo be kid friendly? Does picky really mean they can’t be at least offered a variety?

Kate Gosselin of “Jon and Kate Plus 8” feeds her kids well. Not only do their meals consist of organics, but I’ve seen them eating hummus, wasabi peas and kimchi. Did the Gosselin’s alter their children’s DNA so they would eat adult foods? No. These kids can’t be picky because The Gosselins don’t have time to let them be. Hello – eight fucking kids!

I ate everything when I was younger. I still do. I thank my parents for this.

They always made me eat what they were having. Some of our earliest vacation videos are of me dancing around with clam shells pretending they were castanets. I was also known to perform magic tricks: putting a crab “to sleep” by rubbing its underside, and “waking it up” before surrendering it to my dad to drop in the steamer. My favorite part of  ham steaks was the bone marrow because my grandfather convinced me it was good, and I trusted him. I don’t even see ham steaks on a kids’ menu, let alone its marrow.

If you indulge your child’s temperament to only eat select foods, then she will probably maintain this disposition as a  picky eater. And she might even end up like my friend who didn’t know what a scone was until college.

I don’t have children and there’s no doubt many people will criticize me for these views. I was the child, you should know, who was appalled by her friend’s lunchbox PB&J.

Let the shit talking begin.

Pic: Grown up mac ‘n cheese, by Mandie )

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33 Responses leave one →
  1. April 28, 2009

    Right on!

    I always ate what my parents ate. There were a few things I absolutely hated and would not touch (liver, brussels sprouts, okra), but the fact that I would not eat them when I ate just about everything else they put in front of me was evidence to them that there were some things I just wasn’t going to like.

    I also rarely ordered from the kids menu when we went to restaurants, except for that 6-month phase when I was 8 where I only wanted hamburgers. I usually wanted some kind of pasta from the adult menu, and I also had a huge appetite, so I could handle the portions.

  2. April 28, 2009

    I actually just went on a huge rant about this yesterday in my comments. “Kid food” is bunk. Kids will eat what you put in front of them. Parents need to stop acting liek short order cooks and teach them nutrition and healthy eating habits from the get go. Chicken nuggets should be a rare treat, not a thrice weekly occurrence.

  3. April 28, 2009

    True statement. My mom was a very adventurous cook and my sister and I tried everything. We even had a rule- if one of us tried to order a burger when we went out to eat, she’d say “Listen, I will take you to Wendy’s to get a hamburger after I finish enjoying my meal. So you can either find something else to eat, or just wait.”

    Direct result- we ate pretty much everything. Continues today with the rest of the fam. My little cousins’ idea of “kid food” consists of sushi and falafel.

  4. April 28, 2009

    Amen to that.

    If I refused to eat something I “didn’t like”, my mother would give me the “how do you know you don’t like it if you’ve never tried it?” lecture; my father would shove the food in my face at the same time. Even to this day he still does (and subjects my friends to the punishment as well)

    I don’t know if I started trying things because I wanted to or because my parents were a pain in the ass about it. Regardless, all a kid needs is a little push to realize food is delicious.

  5. April 28, 2009

    i ate bread and butter at fancy restaurants. my parents used to sneak mcdonalds into chinese restaurants for me.
    and now i have an adventurous food blogs. so fuck all of you.

  6. Harmony permalink
    April 28, 2009

    I have 3 kids, and while the youngest (age 3) still occasionally gets a separate dinner from what everyone else is having, that’s a rarity. We have lamb chops, hummus, shrimp scampi, scallops wrapped in bacon, you name it, and the kids eat it as well. I recently fried chicken at home and my oldest was astounded. He didn’t know you could get fried food at home! So I have to agree, I have yet to meet a child who would truly starve before not eating mom’s meatloaf.

  7. Maids permalink*
    April 28, 2009

    I think hummus is now fed to all two year olds. that’s what I’ve seen at least when I’ve been around babies. When i was a kid, I was the only one in the cafeteria eating hummus, now I know so many parents who feed hummus on cooked carrots to their toddlers. It;s a good transition food, kinda the consistency of baby food but more flavorful.

  8. April 28, 2009

    I don’t have kids either and I agree! Even though I really didn’t appreciate being forced to eat sauteed zucchini when I was four, I’m glad my parents fed me wholesome food instead of processed crap. I have known some adults who won’t eat anything but chicken fingers and pizza and it’s sad and kind of embarrassing…

  9. April 28, 2009

    Am I the first parent to respond to this one? Not that it matters, because I too say AMEN. I’ve got a six year old son, and he eats what we eat. Sure, he likes french fries and fish sticks and cheeseburgers, but he also recently wrote a first-grade-homework essay about his favorite restaurant… and it wasn’t McDonalds, it’s our sushi joint.

    I’ve always made him eat the food I like, even when he was a newborn. I know a lot of women who modified their diets when they were nursing so their milk wouldn’t “taste funny,” but I decided that I wouldn’t change my diet unless my son developed a problem. Bring on the onions, the garlic, the nam pla prik! The payoff was getting a kid who is familiar with the concept of flavor, a kid I can take out to eat Ethiopian or Burmese or Salvadoran, a kid who gives me shit if I don’t put a big enough bowl of salsa on the table. It’s awesome.

  10. April 28, 2009

    Love this. I have 2 kids who eat what we eat. SOmetimes I will later theirs for a pickier palate. My oldest does not like tomatoes. No sauce, raw, or any other way has swayed her. In her defense she does periodically try it. We do not eat fast food and if we are in a restaurant 10-1 they will order adult meals and share! If there is calamari on the menu they will order that!
    We made all of their baby food by puree what we were eating so maybe that contributed that to them liking different food? Who knows or maybe it’s because we treat them in a way that does not permit picky eating?

  11. April 28, 2009

    Kids have taste buds too! My niece and nephew are (1 1/2 and 4 respectively) are great at eating what everyone else is eating. (the little girl’s vocabulary is limited, but she can certainly ask for more of whatever I bring by… and generally does.) I think a lot of parents just go with the crap because it’s easier.

  12. April 28, 2009

    Wow – you had hummus in your school cafeterias??!! We had oversteamed green beans and corn boiled in butter. And of course the realy treat, which was white-bread ‘pizza’ with sugary tomato paste and greasy mozarella, topped with dubious sausage.

  13. April 28, 2009

    @Judy,

    I’m overjoyed someone brought up the mention of homemade baby food. I get laughed at by parents for saying I’ll never let my kids eat the stuff out of a jar.

  14. April 28, 2009

    I was the kid who peeled edamame for snack during recess, while my friends peeled string cheese. Parents perpetrate the “picky eaters.” They condone that bullshit. There was only one option for dinner: eat what I give you. There was no “make yourself a sandwich” option.

  15. April 28, 2009

    My two-year-old daughter will eat almost anything, and I think it’s because even when she was first learning to eat solids, we didn’t give her a whole other meal, but just a “deconstructed” version of ours. Her first solid vegetable? Avocado. What do we bribe her with to finish her meat now? Extra veggies–mostly broccoli, asparagus, and onions. I know not all kids are like her, but the more we “hide” the good stuff in seemingly crappy food, the less they’ll eat the good stuff as they get older. Yes, there will be extremely picky kids (I heard of one child who would only eat “yellow” food for about a year), but I think the majority of picky eaters are created by parents who won’t feed them “adult” food.

    By the way, we’re going out to a hosted dinner in France next month where the “child’s menu” will include an appetizer of foie gras and salmon, and I fully expect my child to lick her plate (or I will!) The French know how to feed their kids!

  16. Maids permalink*
    April 28, 2009

    @Michael, the school didn’t have hummus available. My dad made me hummus and vegetable pita sandwiches, which I loved. I did not love it when he made me peanut butter and orange marmalade sandwiches on pumpernickel bread. I would swap those in a heartbeat. I’m afraid I will have to change what I cook when I have kidlets – I think I currently cook with too much red pepper for their tender taste-buds (and I don’t think I’m going to go the route of ‘seasoning’ my kiddos taste buds by dotting them with Tabasco as someone did to me)

  17. Alex permalink
    April 28, 2009

    I heard “This isn’t a restaurant” my entire childhood. I ate what my parents put in front of me and mostly I liked it. As an adult I’m actually pretty intolerant of picky eaters, which is also a bad habit.

  18. April 28, 2009

    @ gansie, hell yes, bread and butter in restaurants + PB&J and Captain Crunch at home as a kid. Ten years later taking shots of snakes blood + eating calf brain gnocchi and blogging about it.

    But I’ll admit I’m going to be a complete hypocrite and force my kids to eat whatever we’re eating at the table. “No calf brains, no dessert.”

  19. April 28, 2009

    no shit talking here either! in fact, our whole blog is dedicated to the idea that kids are people (who can love good food) too! we’ve tackled the controversial “hiding veggies” philosophy (http://tinyurl.com/dlhkmo) and give tips for coping during a “picky eating” phase. never a dull moment!

  20. April 29, 2009

    I know so many adult picky eaters. They drive me mad. You may enjoy this nature special on The North American Picky Eater: http://www.averagebetty.com/?p=204
    Cheers!

  21. April 30, 2009

    in defense of picky eaters, some of us have to be due to food allergies. I can’t touch animal products (aside from eggs), or much wheat. I know it makes it hell for people trying to feed me, but i’d much rather be a pain than live with the consequences… they are not fun!

  22. May 6, 2009

    Haha, my parents used to sneak McDonald’s into Chinese restaurants for me too! I hated Chinese food growing up. Hahahahahaha. My parents bred me to be a picky eater, I admit, but compared to other people in my age/peer group, I wasn’t that picky. I had no idea that other kids didn’t grow up being offered or eating lobster, shrimp, intestines, chicken feet, etc. (all of which I eat and love, except shrimp, I’m not a fan). Anyways I still agree with the above, parents beget picky eaters. I have to say my BF is a picky eater but not because his parents catered to him but because they were/are unadventurous eaters themselves… as in, his dad didn’t eat fish/seafood so why would he?

    My nephews eat everything and actually will take one bite of cupcake but then beg for fresh strawberries or whatever fruit. They’re not fussy and I’m glad about it… worried about how my kids will turn out though if I marry picky eater

  23. May 6, 2009

    BTW, Lunch in a Box has a great post somewhere that lots of parents weighed in on picky eaters, how to deal, and how to try to not raise one…

  24. June 28, 2009

    Glad to see so many like-minded parents out there. Two moments of foodie Mama pride here. When our oldest was hospitalized at nine months for pneumonia she literally turned up her nose at the jarred food they wanted us to feed her. We went and got some cottage cheese and she was happy. And for her third birthday a few weeks ago she asked for sushi for dinner. Gawd love her.

    This topic is a strong focus of my writing these days – as it’s been said, fussy eaters are more made than born. It is up to us as parents to mold our children in our image. Ha! Like that’s actually going to work. But I’ll have fun trying.

  25. Matt Sterbashun permalink
    June 19, 2012

    People that think that kids will eat what is put in front of them don’t have fucking kids. Kid’s are people. They have opinions and tastes. A public place is not the venue to wage war with your kid on eating habits. Most people with young kids are already rolling the dice just going out to eat. Those battles take place at home.

    You don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.

  26. Sirena permalink
    July 26, 2012

    right on! little kids are usually pretty adventurous about eating, it’s when the adults around them are saying “ew, that has mayo in it” or “oh, gross, onions” that they learn to be picky! for instance, i hate raw peppers. the taste, the texture, just… ugh. but my kids all eat pepper strips, along with almost every other veggie, raw or cooked. i just simply cut them up and handed them out for snacks. no fuss, no fanfare, just ‘it’s there, try it.’ when i was a kid, my mom was a fan of the ‘sit at the table and stare at it until you eat it or it’s bedtime’ method. i learned to eat some odd things then, and, of course, vowed that i would never make my kids do that but now…

    i’m a mom of 4, 2 of whom have food allergies. i am not running a short-order kitchen. we’ve all learned to eat (and cook!) new and interesting things because boxed mac ‘n’ cheese or chicken nuggets will just make my kids sick. last night’s dinner was rice noodles with shrimp, broccoli, and thai sweet chili sauce. there wasn’t a single scrap left. tonight? homemade gyros with homemade gluten-free pita bread, fresh tzatziki made with goat’s milk yogurt, and rice pudding made with goat’s milk. not a bit of it leftover.

    the younger you start, the easier it is. my 7 year old snacks on raw veggies. including onions, garlic, mushrooms, broccoli, cabbage… all strong flavoured things you’d expect a kid to hate, right? wrong! i have to watch out for little fingers sneaking stuff off the cutting board, he loves veggies so much! he’s been nibbling raw onions since he was 2. how? he asked to try it, i handed it to him, he ate it. if he didn’t like something, i’d just try again later. if he still didn’t like it, ok, then he didn’t like it. but at least he’d tried it!

    my point is that a lot of kids THINK they don’t like new foods or certain foods because people around them comment about how they don’t like those foods. it’s not going to work every time, but generally, if you just dish it up and hand it out, no fuss, kids will at least try it. i’m not saying that i know it all about feeding kids, or that there aren’t some truly picky kids out there (food aversions can be a real thing), but for most kids, if you just encourage them to try new things, they will.

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