Last week, out with friends at a new restaurant (a place I wrote about here), my 6-year-old ordered chocolate mousse for dessert. Actually, chocolate avocado mousse. But my daughter didn’t know that. She’s a beginning reader and “avocado” is not yet in her repertoire (though “chocolate” is), so I let her order the mousse without mentioning its secret green ingredient.
Tess has a fickle relationship with avocado. One minute she proclaims guacamole her favorite food or inhales avocado-laced veg sushi. The next she scrunches her nose and declares anything remotely avocado-ish “gross.” Lately it’s been more the latter than the former. Would it have been fortunate if the mere mention of avocado had turned her off the idea of dessert altogether? OK, sure. But scratchmade chocolate mousse is a beautiful thing. Plus, I got to do this:
Me: “Guess what? There’s something else in that mousse besides chocolate. Something green. Can you believe it?”
Tess: Stops licking spoon. Looks at me suspiciously. “Green?”
Me: “Yes, green! It’s actually avocado! Isn’t it cool that you can put avocado in chocolate mousse?”
Tess: Pauses. Stares at bowl. Resumes licking spoon.
So maybe all she cared about was the chocolate. But the thing is that I wanted her to know there was avocado in her mousse. I think it’s important that kids know what’s in their food, and that’s especially true when it’s an ingredient they’ve previously waffled on (or not liked at all). I was reminded of this because a fellow blogger, Naveen over at Little Stomaks, posted a Chef Boyardee commercial that blatantly advocates for hiding vegetables. (The commercial also claims that Chef Boyardee is “secretly nutritious.” What now?)
As I commented there, I’m not a fan of the stealth vegetable (or, in this case, stealth fruit, since technically avocado is a fruit). Sure, put spinach in your brownies or carrots in your pasta sauce, but don’t hide that fact. Tell your kids what’s in their food so they can learn to love vegetables on their merits. Otherwise you send the message that vegetables are something to be endured instead of enjoyed. (You also enable that dreaded picky eater business.)
But what do you think? Is there really harm in hiding veggies? Can that hinder a child’s ability to appreciate new foods? Or is it no big deal? And, really, do real-life kids ever hate vegetables as much as TV kids?
On that note, I’ll leave you with one of the Chef Boyardee commercials. Separate from the example Little Stomaks posted, there’s a new series on the company’s website. Here’s the one that annoys me the most:
A note about videos: Spoonfed has turned into video central lately. We’ve had 11-year-old Birke Baehr’s amazing speech, news about vanishing bees and a discussion about junk food as heroin. And of course a little love from Jamie Oliver. It’s feeling a little like YouTube lately, which is fun for awhile, but I wouldn’t want to make a habit of it. So not to worry. Video-free posts on the way.
And a note about Jamie Oliver: The Guardian has a terrific article this week about JO, his critics and his crusade for better school food. It’s long, but well worth the read. Candid, salty, spot-on. Love him or hate him (and, frankly, I don’t get the haters), we’d all be better off if more people cared even half as much about what we feed our kids.