Should We Eliminate the Concept of "Kid Food"?

Categories: Bites & Dishes

Welcome to Chow Bella's Bites & Dishes, where Valley chefs and restaurateurs respond to a question New Times food critic Laura Hahnefeld has on her mind. Have a question you'd like to ask? E-mail laura.hahnefeld@newtimes.com.

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www.salon.com
Last month, in the health section of U.S. News & World Report, Dr. David Katz, a specialist in internal and preventive medicine, made a case for eliminating the concept of "kid food" -- essentially foodstuffs that are marketed to children.

"Every species teaches its kids how to eat," says Dr. Katz. "Every species but ours. We have invented an entire industry devoted to feeding kids differently."

Does Dr. Katz's notion of ridding the country of kid food have a restaurant application as well? I asked a few Valley chefs and restaurateurs and this is what they had to say.

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Chef Jeff Pilditch,
Bistro 24

Absolutely. Foods like mac 'n' cheese, chicken tenders, and ranch dressing by the gallon do not provide a diet I would recommend for any kid. As with anything, these foods are certainly okay in moderation; however, we should focus on encouraging our kids to eat healthy foods filled with the nutrients they need. Kid food is convenience food, and that's not a step in the right direction.

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Greg LaPrad,
Chef and Owner, Overland Trout, Sonoita

No, some things should remain as they are. Part of growing up is eating hot dogs, mac 'n' cheese, chicken nuggets, and SpaghettiOs. That said, once you're grown up, you should be required to try different vegetables and not be a super-picky eater.

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Chef Chris Nicosia,
Sassi

We shouldn't eliminate the idea of kid food, but we should adjust the offerings. Every kid's menu is the same: chicken tenders, pasta with butter, grilled cheese, hamburgers, etc. The kid's menu should reflect the theme of the restaurant. Having a kid's section on a menu serves two other purposes as well. First, it shows the parents that the restaurant is kid-friendly. Second, it lets the kids know they are important diners, too.

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Chef Chris Knouse,
The Wigwam

Absolutely not. Kids love stuff like chicken tenders and cheeseburgers. So do some adults.



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24 comments
marcy
marcy

Since Dr. Katz believes we should emulate other animals I'd suggest we stop cooking food and require people to forage for their meals.  

Also, no clothes, we as the only animals that don't run around naked sniffing each other's privates.

marcy
marcy

We need to eliminate baby food as well and teach babies to eat like adults.  We should also dress our kids like adults and instead of getting the tricycles get them right into driving a real car.


sir_eccles
sir_eccles

Usually I just skip ordering for the kid and he eats off my plate.  Just let us order a small portion of the normal food at a reasonable price. 

I once asked my dr at what age it was ok to give him Mexican or other spicy food, the answer was "guess what Mexican kids eat".

jacqdavis
jacqdavis

I believe we should either eliminate or introduce more healthy options so parents can pick and choose from a more diverse kids' menu. I know there are days I feel like being healthy and days that I just need a good old mac 'n' cheese. It is the lack of healthy option for kids' menu that we should address. Offering only unhealthy, processed and high carb menu items for kids seems like we are being irresponsible as adults.

mhodgins4
mhodgins4

Kids and adults are naturally attracted to sweet flavors.  Chicken nuggets, ranch dressing, etc. are all pumped with corn syrup and other sweeteners.  As others have said, it begins at home with the parents not taking the easy "sweet" way out and exposing their children to many different foods.  The biggest problem with taking the easy way out is that when those kids grow up, they feed those foods to their kids and the cycle is never broken.

Linda Kane Ransley
Linda Kane Ransley

Yes! Just make the same, but smaller portions, different seasoning or sauce on side (if spicy or unique)

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

"Absolutely. Foods like mac 'n' cheese, chicken tenders, and ranch dressing by the gallon do not provide a diet I would recommend for any kid." 

Unfortunately, that describes the primary diet of too many adults as well.

lnaalba1
lnaalba1

Yes Eliminate, Those Chicken (pink slime) McNuggets are sent from the devil himself.

Larissa Scordato
Larissa Scordato

Yes. Having a kids' menu continues to perpetuate this notion of feeding our children mac'n'cheese and chicken nuggets and that's ridiculous. The only thing menus should have is a selection for kids' portions.

Arielle DeLisle
Arielle DeLisle

It'd be great to have, as a few chefs have said, kid-version representations of some of the dishes in the restaurant instead of the standard "kid menu" fare. We don't cook separately for our 2 year old daughter, she gets whatever we're eating for dinner and has been exposed to a lot of different foods.

Lucinda Kaye Mitton
Lucinda Kaye Mitton

Absolutely! In my family there is no "kid food." Kids eat the exact same thing, just chopped up smaller.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

If you actually read his Op-Ed piece, his position is that generally accepted kid-food, as represented in his peice by the marshmallows in Lucky Charms, is completely processed crap that has been packaged and sold by Madison Avenue and is more nutritionally harmful than helpful to kids.  He comes at this issue as a public health physician and is concerned about the nutrional value, or lack of nutritional value, of kids-food and the impact it has on adult eating habits and adult diseases.  The author of this blog provided a very brief snippet of Dr. Katz's overall discussion.

Even though we have bought and continue to buy most of the accepted kid-food for our kids, I have trouble arguing against the notion that any kid cereal is actually good for them (except Captain Crunch, of course).  And most of the other processed stuff we feed them (and ourselves) is probably not much better.

WhoKnows
WhoKnows topcommenter

@marcy You could be like a bird, and chew your kids food and then throw up in their mouths...


:o

WhoKnows
WhoKnows topcommenter

@marcy And the adults that live on mac+cheese, mc nuggets, and captain crunch are heard from! :o

WhoKnows
WhoKnows topcommenter

@JohnQ.Public That's a good point.  Many kids that grow up eating only "kids food", as adults eat the same thing.  As a kid, my parents couldn't believe that I liked Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower more than corn and peas, and it was because I tried them.  They always made me try stuff, even if my main meal was mac+cheese and hotdogs.

marcy
marcy

@JohnQ.Public 

So fight the junk food battle and stop blaming it on "kid's food" and making ridiculous comparisons to the animal world.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

Heeeeyyyy, don't knock the Captain Crunch.

JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

I still can't believe that you like brussel sprouts - that is a flavor I don't think I'll ever like.

When our kids were younger we'd make them try everything too and if they didn't like something that was fine - at least they tried it.  My older son has a very good palate. My younger son is still developing his(albeit at a glacially slow pace)

marcy
marcy

@JohnQ.Public 

Look, people have been raging about junk food for eons.  What does Dr Katz bring to the table?  A claim that we should get rid of "kids food", not junk food.

And he supports it with a ridiculous comparison with how the animal world feeds animal babies.

There was no substance to his message.


JohnQ.Public
JohnQ.Public

Wow - you really get caught up in the presentation and completely miss the substnace of the message, don't you.  Yours is a very literal world, marcy. 

WhoKnows
WhoKnows topcommenter

@JohnQ.Public I thought CC was one of the basic food groups until I was 12....  :)

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