I was watching British chef Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution the other night, and was struck by a scene in which he showed elementary school kids in Huntington, West Virginia -- recently named the unhealthiest place in America -- how chicken nuggets are made.
It was pretty revolting.
When Oliver's done demonstrations like this in England, the school kids are disgusted by the nuggest and reach for the grilled chicken legs instead. But when he tried the experiment in West Virginia, the way the kids, who gagged and gasped while he showed the what went into the nuggets, clamored to eat the final, uber-processed product. Here's the clip, courtesy of YouTube:
My kids, like most kids, like chicken nuggets. I don't have time to make my own, so the ones they get in their lunchbox are as "natural" as possible, but really, they're still fake food. And after watching this, I felt kind of bad about it. Which isn't Oliver's point at all; a once-in-a-while -- or even once-a-week -- chicken-nugget lunch isn't going to rocket kids into obesity. But coupled with studies that say working moms are raising unhealthy kids, it does ratchet up the guilt levels, no matter how healthy the rest of their lunches are.
In The Boston Globe's features section today (April 21), there's a great story today about kids and healthy eating, pointing out that parents don't need to be chefs in order to cook with their kids. If you're looking for a little culinary guidance, the Whole Foods Market on River Street in Cambridge still has a few spots open in its Kids Food Adventure with chef Jehangir Mehta, a free workshop for kids age 6 to 11. It runs from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 24; the goal is to make kids feel more comfortable and be more adventurous about food and cooking. For more information or to register, call the store at 617-876-6990.
So, here are the questions: Do you feel like you have to choose between healthy and convenient when it comes to packing your kids lunches? What healthy, packable, school-lunch appropriate offerings are your kids most likely to eat?
Lylah M. Alphonse is a Globe staff member and mom and stepmom to five kids. She writes about juggling career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day and blogs at Write. Edit. Repeat. E-mail her at email@example.com. April is Autism Awareness Month; you can read her posts about autism here.