Why Are We Poisoning Our Children?

Pregnant woman trying to decide between eating freshly picked carrots or packaged sandwich cookies. We need to feed kids healthy food if we want them to grow up healthy and strong via Jennifer Margulis

Hmmm … Which is better for the baby, packaged processed cookies or carrots fresh from the garden?

Remember the scene at the farmers’ market in No Impact Man when Colin Beavan says, “I don’t know how to say this without sounding like an asshole, but I get upset when I see things wrapped individually in plastic.”?

I don’t know how to say this without sounding like an asshole, but I get upset when I see what we Americans are feeding our children.

I especially get upset when it’s the snack for the entire class or the entire soccer team brought by a parent.

And even more upset when the parent who brings it is a doctor or a nurse or someone else in the medical field.

I feel like we should know better.

I feel like we should know that children should eat food, not petroleum-based neon-colored plastic-wrapped high-fructose-corn-syrup-sweetened poison.

Do I sound like a judgmental jerk? If you didn’t hate me before (I got a doozy of a hate email yesterday, I would share it on this blog but that seems rather immature), do you hate me now?

I don’t mean to be an asshole.

But I honestly don’t understand.

I’ve used this analogy before: no car owner would put the wrong kind of gas in his car. Why, then, are we feeding our children faux food? Sugary crap? Stuff that weakens their immune systems, predisposes them to diabetes, makes them hyperactive and unable to concentrate?

I grew up eating Froot Loops and Apple Jacks. Spaghetti-Os were my favorite lunch. And I loved Ding Dongs. And Chef Boyardee.



I still don’t know why my parents let my brothers and me eat such nutritionless food. Maybe it was because of all that 1970s advertising. Despite being thoughtful, caring, intelligent parents (they’re both scientists), they just fed us what everyone else ate.

We grown-ups know that when we eat processed junk, our health suffers, our weight suffers, our moods suffer, even our sex-drive suffers.

We grown-ups know that when we feed our children empty calories, they suffer.

How has America become duped into believing that plain white sugar, bleached white flour, unpronounceable additives, and petroleum-dervied dyes are “food”?

I’m not talking about dessert or the occasional indulgence.

Bring on the hot fudge sundaes (once in awhile).

It’s the every day diet of the average American that concerns me.

Later this week I’ll post some ideas for healthier eating. In the meantime, I’d like to hear from you. Do you care about what your children are eating?

This post was inspired by yesterday’s blog action day.

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Categories: food.


  1. Sue

    When I think about what a struggle weight is for me, and how I don’t want that for my nieces or my friend’s children. There must be a better way!

  2. Amen, sister! I was twitching a few weeks ago when we sent the boys down to Bible class at church, and the oldest came back with a huge cup full of Fruit Loops. He loves going to class; I really don’t think he needs to be bribed with sugary cereal. Great post!

  3. I think we all care. I think part of the issue is 1) ignorance on the part of some people (mostly caused by marketing) 2) peer pressure (so many parents are doing it, so kids see this food and then ask for it incessantly) 3) busy-ness. I’m supposed to send my kid to school each day with a snack and I have a very hard time finding one that works for various reasons. I hate wrapping anything in anything–whether it comes that way or I have to do it myself. So I even have a hard time figuring out how she should transport the snack. I guess I need tiny portable containers of some sort. I often choose nuts because they are shelf stable and I know she will eat them. I used to send baby carrots, but I knew she just threw them away! And baby carrots have their own issues (which you know). I’d like to send something like Nutella on crackers, but I’m allergic to the Nutella and again and flummoxed a bit by the transportation issues. All of that to say that I am looking forward to your next post!
    Alisa Bowman recently posted…The Most Dangerous Post I’ve Ever WrittenMy Profile

  4. Well, I still say “yum” to Froot Loops, Apple Jacks and Ding Dongs (still weirded out by the meatballs in Spaghetti-Os and Chef Boyardee). The thing is, now that I’m an adult, I eat them as rare indulgences – cereal for dessert! – or make my own version (here’s a recipe I created for homemade fritos: http://www.eatingrules.com/2011/10/homemade-fritos/).

    Like the commenter whose daughter pitches the baby carrots, kids are going to find a way to get at the sugary stuff whether or not it’s in the household (I definitely got around the house rules growing up). So like any diet, I see moderation and education – WHY aren’t you allowed to have a Ding Dong? – as the key.
    Casey@Good. Food. Stories. recently posted…Is This the Weirdest Snack Ever Invented?My Profile

  5. Natalie

    I looked at a can of infant formula one day after reading some comments on parenting website about how people need to lay off on the formula bashing, it’s really advanced now. Two of the varieties I looked at had corn syrup solids as ingredients. I avoid ingredients like that for the solid-food-eating members of the family, so I’m certainly going to try everything I can to avoid that for my infant. But that’s because I have a world view that values FOOD with identifiable ingredients and not…(I don’t know what to call the rest of it.) Many people never look at what’s in infant formula, and they never look at what’s in the packaged food that they buy because it never occurs to them that they might want to be more discerning about what they put in their bodies. I agree with Alisa that time plays a major role in people’s choices. I’m very busy, but we make almost all of our meals from scratch, and sometimes it sucks. I don’t want to cook or clean some days. In addition to time, an inability to cook plays into this. Maybe we need to bring back home ec. (But one of the foods teachers at my husband’s work eats Lean Cuisine.)

  6. Right on! The director of education at our temple sent out an email indicating that Sunday School snacks would be provided by the temple and would include “goldfish crackers, granola bars or animal crackers.” I said that our class would stick with challah, thanks! I hate being painted as an extremist just because I want my kids to eat, like, FOOD.

  7. Our parents come from a generation where women were often slaves to their kitchen. The convenience of canned and wrapped food was liberating. Baby formula was rejoiced. They trusted the system.

    Today, many people don’t understand what goes into their food, and some just don’t have time to care. It’s not just the junk food, though. Americans have been tricked by “low-fat” eating guidelines. The foods are still full of crap and create sugar highs and lows. Strawberry yogurt has as much sugar in it as a cookie, but parents think the yogurt is the healthy food and then top it off with gummy bears as a sweet treat.

    In our house, we draw a real distinction between what’s a treat and what’s healthy. We buy plain milk, plain yogurt, unsweetened nut butters and applesauce. This way, my kids can still indulge but there’s no confusion about what’s good for you and what’s not.
    Shari Becker recently posted…Imperfection is OrganicMy Profile

  8. I think that another problem to add to the growing weight and health issues pandemic, is that probably close to none of these kids who eat like this, are doing any sort of excercise to work off all those carbs. Their parents don’t make them, and soon their wondering why weight is an issue for their kids, when all they’ve been doing is, “Feeding my kids what everyone else feeds their kids!”

  9. Kimberly Ford

    I love people who often say things that start with “I hate to sound like an asshole…” They have important things to say.

    The fact is, if we cut out JUST sugar-loaded beverages, we would make an enormous impact on childhood obesity as well as the rising rates of KIDS diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

  10. Caitlin

    The word ass hole is thrown around quite a bit in this article. Granted, I don’t have kids, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with a mom bringing cookies for the soccer team or for the class and I think it’s actually kinda sad that we’ve become so knit picky about society’s problems we can’t see through to this sweet gesture. Let’s let the people dealing with the health issues pandemic worry about the health issues pandemic; I hardly think anyone in Ashland would let their kids sit around watch TV and eat ice cream all day… Like I said before, it’s all about the bigger picture.

  11. Paula

    I could not agree with you more. I rant about this enough to annoy my friends, and irritate my children. I am flabbergasted by the loving, intelligent people I see feed their children junk that is NOT FOOD! it’s poison. Sugary, pretty, tempting poison. And no, I don’t think we should lay off about formula. It’s mostly crap, too. Instead, we need to support women’s right to feed their babies breast milk. I am not perfect. I indulge at times. But I know I’m indulging. And I don’t think my kids feel deprived. We still eat sweets now and then, just ones with ingredients that are real food.

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