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Step away form the Velveeta

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POSTED: September 17, 2013 2:00 p.m.

In typical scatter-brained-mom fashion, I set out last Saturday morning to assemble what was supposed to be an easy dinner in the Crock-Pot, only to realize I forgot one key ingredient.
As part of a fundraiser at my daughter’s school, my husband and I purchased a smoked Boston butt the previous day and decided to shred it, smother it with barbecue sauce and let it simmer for a few hours, giving us tasty pulled-pork sandwiches for dinner. Of course, I shredded the meat, warmed up the cooker … and realized I had no sauce. Off to the market I went, with my daughter in tow.
I was in a hurry to get back and finish assembling our meal, so I careened around the grocery store, whipping the cart around corners and concentrating on the task at hand. Reese had other ideas — as toddlers often do. Although she was seated in the cart, her “wingspan” these days is pretty impressive, and she’s able to easily snag items from shelves and displays.
As I pried packages from her little hands and muttered distracted “no-no’s,” something struck me. Reese had “selected” a pecan pie, a miniature box of chocolates, a brick of Velveeta and a can of Pringles — nothing that I would even briefly consider actually letting her have. It’s no wonder children become addicted to junk food and shun fruits and veggies. The sugary, preservative-packed, sodium-laced snacks are so accessible.
Not once did Reese manage to finagle an apple, a cup of yogurt or a jar of almonds, and I’m not surprised. Healthier options seem to be little harder to find, and they’re not often set up in flashy displays at the ends of the aisles, as Reese’s “choices” were.
As someone who has struggled with lifelong weight issues, it’s important to me that my daughter learns from a very young age how to eat right and exercise regularly in an effort to avoid the problems I’ve dealt with. My husband and I try to set good examples for Reese but, admittedly, it’s incredibly hard. And I’m beginning to understand why.
I’m certainly not making excuses for my own decisions, but when you’re a busy mom speeding through the supermarket on a weeknight in search of an easy dinner, it’s impossible to ignore the mountains of boxed casseroles, heat-and-eat pastas coated in cream sauce and salty frozen entrees. The marketing powers of the world don’t make it easy on us with their highly-visible, prepackaged creations.
Even a shopper with the best of intentions — dead set on picking up a bag of salad and some grilled chicken strips to mix in — easily can get sidetracked by the smart-looking packages and proclamations of “Ready in minutes!” and “Easy one-dish meal!”
Again, I’m fully aware of the fact that we, as consumers, make our own choices. We know whether the food we’re putting in our mouths is good for us or bad. I just think it’s a shame that the people who have the opportunity to push us in the “healthy direction” don’t capitalize on that opportunity. Product placement is a money game, though, and grocery stores likely got a lot more dough from manufacturers of processed foods than they do from farmers and agriculture promotional groups. Nicely lined pockets seem to trump the general health and well-being of the population.

 

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