Thursday, January 10, 2008

Deceptive Delicious? Or too much of a Cheat?

I’ve been the following the Deceptively Delicious “scandal,” with great interest. Jessica Seinfeld has a best-selling book centered on how to hide vegetables in dishes your kids will like. But she's also charged with plagiarism and name-calling by "Sneaky Chef" author Missy Chase Lapine.
  • Times City Room Blog updated 01.08.08 to include more detail on the Legal Battle (Original blog post on Stealth Food on 10.17.07 appears to have been removed.)
I feel no compunction to add to the Seinfeld coffers and actually buy the book, but I find its premise horrible. “Sneaking food” is weird and unhealthy. That's true whether you sneak by hiding when you eat cookies, or if you sneak for the higher calling of adding vegetables to your menu. I find it upsetting that you would feel the need to regularly trick your kids. (I'm not above white lies, but at every meal?) Talk about creating psychological issues around food.

Plus, you're setting yourself up for a serious backlash. I can hear it now: “I’ll never eat anything because who knows what you’ve put in it!” Or “I know these Oreos don’t have spinach in them, I’ll just eat Oreos!” Or worse, “Mom, do you ever tell me the truth?”

People tell me that I’m “lucky” that my kids are good eaters. I know, I am lucky, but there was a lot of modeling and groundwork that helped them become “good eaters.” It was not entirely luck. My kids ate table food very early. I used the Happy Baby Food Mill to mush up whatever we were eating right at the table. Or if I was organized, I steamed vegetables and blended them in batches, then stored them frozen in ice cubes trays until ready to warm up and serve. I genuinely believe that if you keep offering real, healthy food to kids, they will eat it. Perhaps not the first time, or even the tenth, but eventually they will try it and might even like it.

If your kids are past the baby/toddler stage, you have more work to do. But I think it’s better in the long run to teach your kids what healthy food choices are, to help them develop a healthy relationship with food, and to avoid casting Mom or Dad as a huckster trying to slip in nutrients at every turn. Make your kids take vitamins if you are really concerned about their poor eating; hiding vegetables in mac and cheese is a short-term gain.

Other thoughts:
"Being a Mom is Great" blogger mom apparently liked the book and created a handy chart for conversion of veggies to Seinfeld recipes. Another site called lists some Pros, Cons and User Feedback on the Seinfeld book. I also found a veggie-loving, cooking with kids site at the What's Cooking Blog that looks very promising.

No comments:

Post a Comment