Real Food Mama

Musings about cooking, eating and everything in between.

Healthy Kid’s Snacks – or so they say. June 28, 2009

Filed under: Home Economics — realfoodmama @ 10:19 pm
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My partner took our son out this morning for his weekly father-son breakfast and before returning home I asked that he stop by the local Co-Op for a few things that couldn’t wait.

While he was there, he purchased our son a small snack. Namely, an organic boxed Horizon chocolate milk. Healthy and good, right?

Unfortunately, completely wrong.

The first problem with this healthy snack is the fat content. The milky treat was a measly 1% milk fat. I can only assume this is because Horizon is concerned with childhood obesity and as a result is trying to market towards health conscious parents who don’t want their little darlings getting fat. Unfortunately the lack of milk fat makes the remaining vitamins and minerals in the milk, not to mention the lactose, much harder to digest.

Secondly, the milk is stored in a box, on a shelf. Not in the refrigerated section. How is this possible? Because the milk is UHT (Ultra-heat pasteurized). This is bad for a variety of reasons. First, because it tastes funny. Secondly, the high heat of ultra-pasteurization kills pretty much anything beneficial that might be in the milk after the removal of the fat – including damaging some of the remaining vitamins and minerals contained in the liquid.

And this is the problem with the modern presentation of food. Even if something is labeled organic, all natural, and has pictures of happy cows on it, it still isn’t real food.

The most disturbing part of the issue is really the insidious nature of processed foods and food packaging. I am a conscious, informed, organic, whole food eating machine, and still I find myself wanting to find short cut snacks for my son. Organic cereal bites, for example – O’s or Puffins or something equally as extruded. It is a convenience. And it is this attitude that is the hardest to move away from. The assumption that real food is somehow inconvenient, messy, time consuming and not worth the trouble. Especially when the processed counterpart is so much prettier to look at and has guaranteed health benefits right on the box.

I certainly am capable of, and do with some frequency, preparing him home made, real food snacks for transport. I make granola bars with fresh fruit, mini scones that are easily portable. I mix organic yogurt with raw honey in small, baby sized tupperware containers. Sounds like a lot of trouble? Well, it isn’t really, but it certainly takes more time than simply pouring Puffins into a snap lid container and throwing it in my purse.

And then it hit me. Fruit! It was like an epiphany that made me feel moronic as soon as I had it. Fruit is perhaps the best portable snack ever. Grapes are bite sized, easily handled by small chubby fingers, and are actually fairly good for you (wink wink). Same thing with cherries as long as the pits are removed – blueberries are even better. And as an added bonus, the bite sized fruit globes are much preferred over the extruded cereal by the little man for whom I go to all this trouble.

So with all this energy expended on finding perfect, portable, snack sized meals for our children; all this time and thought put into new, better, processed snack foods, it seems we are overlooking the obvious. And that, my friends, is the whole problem. We are so focused on finding the best food delivery system that we tend to, shockingly, overlook actual food.

So go enjoy a grape or a blueberry and marvel in it’s perfect packaging. Happy Eating!


One Response to “Healthy Kid’s Snacks – or so they say.”

  1. emily Says:

    oh my. right there with you mama! i cant stand those cute little boxes of so called milk, and in fact, neither can my 7 year old. he says they dont taste like milk. its so annoying that these foods are so visually appealing, convenient ect. because they really arent real food and yet, they appear to be real food! yikes. i just bought organic applesauce at target (i know, target is not the place to buy food but we were there and it seemed like a good idea at the time, lol) and came home to see they added organic sugar to it. gross. applesauce does not need any sugar, organic or not.

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