A lot of parents complain that their children are ‘fussy eaters’, and it’s a problem I can relate to. However, there are steps parents can take to make mealtimes more appealing and turn a particular food item into something more than an unwelcome addition to their plate.
A programme shown regularly on the Tiny Pop TV channel called ‘Cookie Monster’s Foodie Truck’ introduces kids to food provenance by showing where it comes from. Those of us who remember Cookie Monster constantly scoffing junk food in our youth might not know that he’s on something of a health kick these days and seems to take a lot more interest in natural foods. This five-minute programme always involves Cookie and his friend Gonger working on a recipe, realising they don’t have an ingredient and watching a video to find out more about that ingredient.
After watching it, my four-year-old daughter often says she wants an apple, banana or whatever they’ve been talking about, so we thought why should we wait for Cookie Monster when you can find out where just about any food comes from on the internet?
Now, screens at the dinner table has long been a controversial topic, going back to ‘TV dinners’, popularised in ‘70s and ‘80s America, through to the concerns about kids using tablets and mobile phones at restaurants today. I’m not advocating being glued to an iPad while eating, but provided it’s supervised, there is a case for using sites like YouTube for education and even as part of meal planning.
Last week, my daughter decided she didn’t like blueberries. A quick YouTube search for ‘where do blueberries come from?’ brought up this video.
After watching this 10-minute clip and learning that these previously unattractive purple spheres had a history long before they ended up in her bowl, and that many people had worked hard to bring them to her, she realised that not only did she suddenly like blueberries, but she wanted more of them.
Adults can learn as much as children from videos like this. With the modern food industry very much centred on convenience, we forget sometimes that it doesn’t just magically appear in the supermarket, but has undertaken a long journey to get there. Bearing this in mind, there’s a lot to be said for encouraging children to grow their own fruit and vegetables, or taking them to any farms open to the public to learn about the origin of food.
I’m not saying it will work for all children, or all foods, but kids tend to be curious creatures and just as curiosity can feed the mind, it can feed the stomach too. Why not give it a try?
Also, if you run a restaurant or any business in the food sector, it’s worth noting that this video on the niche subject of blueberries has been viewed nearly a million times – food for thought if you want to put together a video marketing campaign to show off the sources of your food.