Standing in the aisle at the supermarket a few days ago, I was confronted with a dilemma that moms face every day. My 7 year old daughter is begging, pleading, demanding, and whining for…Fruit by the Foot.
All of her friends have it. Every day for snack. All the time. Why can’t she?
Her younger sister, meanwhile, is reaching the depths of that low-blood sugar danger zone that toddlers hit in the late afternoon. Clinging to my legs, whining to be picked up. (Note to self: Don’t Take Kids Food Shopping in Late Afternoon! But sometimes that’s exactly what a working mom ends up doing).
Stressed and irritated, I hesitate. According to the label, this ‘fruit snack’ is anything but…fruit. Sugar is the first (and second) ingredient, followed by food coloring. This is ‘fake food’, the kind I always vow I shouldn’t feed my kids. My daughter senses her advantage, and ramps up the pleading….“PLEAAAAASE Mom….Only one box!”.
At that point, a guardian angel miraculously appears, in the form of another Mom in the same aisle. Overhearing our discussion, she looks over at me with a smile and says, loudly for the entire aisle to hear:
“Be Strong, Mom!”
Magic words! Somehow, that gave me enough courage to firmly say no to my daughter, and get them both to the checkout without a meltdown (picking up some dried cranberries on the way out).
Busy with my kids, I never thanked the woman who spotted my predicament. By the time I turned around, she was gone. But I’m really, really grateful. We need more solidarity between parents if we’re going to resist the candy-fication of snacks…one of the most objectionable ways, in my opinion, in which processed food companies are targeting our children.
And I’m happy to hear that someone is taking food companies on: see this article by Samira Kawash in AtlanticLife about the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which is bringing a class action suit against food companies for promoting sugary treats as a healthful alternative to real fruit. Hopefully, this will eventually lead to changes in food labeling and advertising.
In the meantime: Be Strong, Moms!