Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Chronic annoyance with "for kids" recipes

I was annoyed by this long before Mae arrived-- I have this old candy cookbook from the 60s that was always chuntering on about how the kids would love the recipe at hand. My thought was always, "Of course they will! It's candy! But what about the adults? Adults like candy, too!".  More recently, I was poking around on Epicurious, exploring their "Cooking For Kids" info and "Recipes for kids" tags.  Don't get me wrong, I love Epicurious*, but get this: Of the recipes featured with pictures in their "Cooking For Kids" group page, fully half of the 24 recipes pictured are for sweets. And if you click on the 'recipes for kids' tag, 9 out of 10 recipes on the first two pages of results are for sweets.  Now, I'm no anti-sweet harridan, and on her future birthdays, Mae will be eating her share of cupcakes or pie, not sardine-and-alfalfa-sprout-on-whole-wheat sandwiches.   I'll note again that it's overdetermined that kids are going to like sweets, and there's nothing wrong with that in moderation (a moderation that I readily confess I myself have never  achieved).  But it's not like they're any better for kids to eat  than for adults.  They may be able to burn the calories off quicker, but they may be worse for children in the long run, if you consider the long-term effects of reinforcing those sorts of eating habits.  *Also gestures in the direction of childhood obesity and diabetes*. 

In the end, I think adults use kids as an excuse to make sweets for themselves. Why not just admit it? And how about featuring recipes for kids that don't teach children to turn primarily to high-calorie foods for reward or comfort?  Or that keep sending the message that these kinds of foods are fine for kids to eat, that they are in fact prototypical "kid food"?

I want my daughter to like sweets, sure. I want her to love pie, ice cream, and our family's Christmas cookies. I also want her to be able to find comfort and indulgence in well-prepared asparagus, a plate of oven-roasted tomatoes. Or to continue to love eating fresh summer peaches and sweet corn every bit as much as she does right now.

* Though not as much as I did when Gourmet magazine was still a going concern.

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