Tuesday, April 03, 2012

why we don't take our kids to eat fast food

One of my all-time favorites from Hyperbole and a Half. Okay, they're all favorites.

Yesterday Genevieve caught a glimpse of the golden arches when we were out shopping--a rare sighting in our area, a.k.a. the land of no fast food joints (this Mickey D's is in a shopping center as part of a much-larger building, rather than a stand-alone operation. I'm explaining this 411 so you understand why she doesn't usually notice it. Thank goodness).

It's a sighting so rare, in fact, that when she saw the sign she said "That M looks like french fries. Mommy, what's that store called?"

At first, I ignored the question. The non-response technique is a ridiculous stance in my family, which includes two notice-everything, need-to-know-everything humans (one small and one large; I'll let you guess which two).

She of course continued with "MOMMY, I asked you what the store is called that has a sign made of french fries." Sigh. Okay, decision time. Do I tell her what it's called and (inevitably right afterward) why we don't eat there?

Think, think, think {I'm channeling Pooh here}.

Well, how do YOU handle this situation? Do you take the Morgan Spurlock approach to punching your child in the face, or do you incorporate Ronald McDonald fare into your "sometimes foods"?

I decided it was best to tell her the truth, which has become my parenting motto in general. More on this practice later. For this situation, my response was, "It's called McDonald's, and they make food there. But the animals that become food in that restaurant did not have happy lives and were sick. We don't eat there because we only eat animals that were happy and healthy."

Know what she said?

"Oh."

And then, "Well, what ARE we going to eat? I'm hungry."

A child like this should be rewarded, no? She passed up french fries! Without whining and badgering! I let her pick out anything she wanted from the buffet in Whole Paycheck Foods, which is where we were headed during the round of questioning. I know, a healthy supermarket next to a megadeath food chain. How convenient for health-conscious, hungry families! Vivi picked butterfly coconut shrimp, cherry tomatoes, and green beans. How adorable is that? I also split a vegan gingersnap cookie with her (delicious! not health-foodie, I swear!) from the bakery case, figuring she also deserved a sometime food. I was left feeling happy but also sad for families who don't have the funds to make such health-conscious decisions.

Even with McDonald's recent decision to ban pink slime, there are still many reasons we choose not to eat fast food (excepting dire situations). If you don't already know these reasons, I encourage you to read Fast Food Nation and then Omnivore's Dilemma, in that order. Or if you're in a hurry, just watch Food Inc., which can be viewed instantly on Netflix. We are lucky to have the luxury to make healthy, whole, real food our choice. We make a rare exception for Chipotle (used to be less rare, but we don't have one 'round us now...sad face) and an even rarer exception for Chick-fil-A. In Chipotle's case, it's because they make an attempt to serve humane and sustainably raised meat. They aren't perfect, but they try, and I feel they should be rewarded for their attempt. In Chick-fil-A's case, it's because we grew up in the south, and Chick-fil-A is in our blood. End of story (Georgians everywhere are nodding silently; they know of what I speak).

What are the sometime and any time foods in your home? How do you help your children make healthy food choices?


Eagerly awaiting your tips and tricks,
~J

Editor's note: This post is a part of Fight Back FridayTeach Me TuesdaySunday SchoolSeasonal Celebration SundayFreaky FridayYour Green ResourceGreen & Natural MamasSimple Lives ThursdayReal Food WednesdayWorks for Me Wednesday, and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways.

9 comments:

Emily Sefcik said...

We're so on the same page about this (yes, I've read all the books you mentioned and watched that documentary and many others)...my husband and I don't have a problem avoiding fast food (and luckily Lilly has never really asked)...except sometimes she asked for french fries. We recently found out my MIL has been taking her to Whataburger when she babysits...so we're going to have to talk about that. I don't want her viewing fast food as a special treat. I think that is my biggest fear. Thanks for the informative post. I love Vivi's response : )

libertybain said...

amen - and pass the kale chips!
BLessings
http://bit.ly/xabvOm

Erica @Childorganics said...

I enjoyed your article. We avoid McDonald's like the plague. I like how you explained it to your daughter. I try to come up with something intelligent but it usually comes out something like... 'that's yucky!' Great article. thanks.

The Lone Home Ranger said...

I think the "you can lead a horse to water..." saying might apply in the case of your MIL. If it were me, I might just mention the preference and leave it at that. But this is coming from someone who would up and faint if I suddenly were gifted grandparents within 20 miles (or heck, even 200 miles). When I was growing up, my mom had my same view about McDonald's, but apparently my grandma (her MIL) took me there every time SHE babysit, claiming it was "what I insisted on." Well sure, whatever works, Grandma. :) Oh and p.s., I loved McD's because they would give me a whole cup of pickles if I asked for one, which was absolute heaven to me both then and now. Leave the french fries, just give me the pickles! This became a long comment...

The Lone Home Ranger said...

Up to a certain age, "yucky" is probably more effective than a longer explanation. At almost four, Vivi is just getting to the age where I can begin approaching the subject of death, which is necessary even to talk about how we eat animals. People have asked me if she appears traumatized by the topic, but she is not because I am not. She follows my lead. I think we as a society have begun to think our kids can handle less truth than they can.

Allison @Novice Life said...

This is great! My son is only one so I haven't crossed this hurdle yet with him....but I am already crossing it will all my in-law's who constantly insist he will 'have to eat it some day'. No he won't! I don't know why they think that - LOL.

for now, I'd say our sacrifice food forhuuby and I would be a frozen pizza.

JC Green said...

Our family doesn't eat fast food either. My girls (ages 10 & 12) have been conditioned long enough that they know I won't take them to McD's under any circumstances. But you know what? At this point THEY don't want to eat at McD's! My youngest refused to eat there (or someplace comparable) on a recent math team trip. It's a health issue to my older daughter, but both of them think that fast food just doesn't taste good.

The Lone Home Ranger said...

I'm glad to hear that, JC! I hope I'm able to keep it up and that my girls understand the health costs of fast food by their age. Good for you. I agree with them about the taste. We had an organic burger restaurant down the street from us when we lived in DC that served grass-fed local meat and olive oil french fries, and we miss it so much now. You can't even compare the taste of the two.

Rebecca said...

When our children were younger we told them we only bought meat that came from 'happy' animals - because we only buy organic meat-it's a rare treat. Now our teens know that to buy cheap processed meat in the form of hamburgers from MacDoe or anywhere else is not okay, for their health or for animal welfare.
Thank you for sharing this with us on Seasonal Celebration! Enjoy a wonderful weekend! Rebecca @ Natural Mothers Network x

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