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Snack Attack

January 24, 2012

Kids cause problems. When they are small, they can be pretty malleable to a certain extent. You want to feed them beans and guacamole for snack time, they are okay with that. At home, my terribly deprived children gobble up kale chips like they are candy.

But eventually most kids go to school, and there they are exposed to a whole wide world of possibilities. Many of these include some truly awful foods.

I was amazed that Young Master Fussy came back from school singing a song whose only lyrics were fast food restaurant names and being told to buy Sunny-D by his teacher so that the library could earn free books. But those were a lot easier to combat than the newfound desire for the brightly colored foods he saw his classmates enjoying in the cafeteria and at snack time.

So what’s a dad to do? Well, believe it or not, I compromised. A little. There are two snack foods that have made it into a regular rotation. And while they aren’t great, neither makes me feel too uneasy. One happens to be truly surprising.

The kiddo was actually introduced to Smartfood popcorn in class. Unbeknownst to me, his teachers handed it out one day when the students were watching a movie.

I have a few complaints with popcorn:
1)    It’s so damn easy to make at home that buying it in bags seems wrong.
2)    The vast majority of corn is genetically modified, and I’m not into that.
3)    Often it can be made with solvent-extracted oils, and I don’t like that either.

Those things aside, Smartfood isn’t really all that bad. It’s corn, oil, cheddar cheese, whey, buttermilk and salt. It can be bought in 100-calorie pouches, so one isn’t compelled to eat through an entire bag once it’s opened.

Besides the concerns about the corn itself and the oil used to pop it, Smartfood is actually a pretty wholesome snack. I suppose I could stretch and feign concern about the cheese and buttermilk coming from industrially produced dairy cows that are treated with artificial growth hormones and antibiotics. And sure that’s a problem. But there is so little dairy involved that it’s hard even for me to get worked up about.

The second snack is probably a bit more unexpected. Perhaps you have seen it on your grocer’s shelf and laughed off the bizarre juxtaposition of terms: Natural Cheetos.

If you have never stopped to pick up the bag and check it out more carefully, let me blow your mind. The cynic in me assumed this was some kind of marketing ploy. After all, the word “Natural” is completely meaningless when it comes to food labels. And just because the package is printed with a pastoral wood-cutting motif in warm earth tones, doesn’t mean the product in the bag is any less processed than any other puff bearing Chester the Cheetah’s ugly mug.

But I was wrong.

The first two ingredients:
1) Organic corn meal (aka GMO-free)
2) Expeller-pressed sunflower oil (aka solvent-free & unlikely GMO)

Wow. Color me impressed. They also are made with organic sour cream, which means the cows were not treated with artificial growth hormones or antibiotics. Honestly, I was shocked when I first learned this.

Now granted, this is a highly processed food that contains natural flavors, and I’m not crazy about that.  But I have to tell you, that if Young Master Fussy is going to be eating something made by Frito-Lay, these are at the top of my list.

Naturally then, he prefers the Smartfood. But I’m hoping to break him from that with a few more amazing batches of homemade popcorn. Finding the right cheese topping is going to be a challenge. The microplane of Parm-Reg isn’t going to do it for Young Master Fussy. I may need to bite the bullet and buy the best cheddar powder I can find.

I’ll keep you posted.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Tonia permalink
    January 24, 2012 10:44 am

    I love Pirates Booty. :-)

  2. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    January 24, 2012 12:07 pm

    For me, never having snack foods around the house has meant that all 4 of my kids never developed snack addictions.

  3. January 24, 2012 12:53 pm

    WHen my daughters came home singing that song, I was floored. This is a public school that has a veggie squad and a school garden and serves baked chicken on whole wheat rolls. They aren’t perfect, but they make an effort. This song seemed totally against everything they are going for. I called the school and had a talk with the music teacher. She said she’d neverthought about the song for that point of view. No more song.

    • January 25, 2012 7:56 pm

      A really awesome school garden, I might add:)

  4. January 24, 2012 2:55 pm

    They don’t come in individual packaging (at least, to my knowledge), however I’m a big fan of Red Hot Blues, which you can buy just about every supermarket. it is easy enough to separate out into portioned bags.

  5. January 24, 2012 8:32 pm

    Will the Natural Cheetos still give me orange fingertips?

  6. Chris permalink
    January 25, 2012 7:13 pm

    I enjoy my daily visit to this blog although I’m not sure why… I am not “fussy” about food. I actually don’t post often but this post inspired me, as the new age thinking on feeding children is foreign to me.

    I grew up in the sixties and seventies and I can’t remember a healthy snack beyond an apple being served in my childhood home. Cocoa Puffs for breakfast, a bologna sandwich for lunch and some sembelence of a healthy dinner- meat, potatoes and a canned vegetable. I was very active (way before video games and computers or anything decent on TV) and the food I ate didn’t seem to effect me… I was a bean pole.

    My kids did not eat sugary cereals or bologna. They did, however, get to have a cupcake when a classmate celebrated a birthday. My granddaughter couldn’t bring cupcakes to preschool for her birthday. Really? Dessert is now a bad thing?

    I think the whole thing has gone too far…..

  7. January 26, 2012 3:14 pm

    Okay, thanks to this post, I felt compelled to search for this song you mentioned.
    I don’t know if I found the right one or not, but what I did is fine is absolutely atrocious.

  8. January 26, 2012 3:16 pm

    Apparently so atrocious that I lost my ability to type. That should be find, not fine.

    I think my mother has her class sing this one:

    The Vegetable Song
    Sung to: “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”

    Carrots, Peas, and Broccoli,
    Vegetables are good for me.
    For my snack and in my lunch,
    Veggie sticks are great to munch.
    Carrots, Peas, and Broccoli,
    Vegetables are good for me.

    • Kerosena permalink
      January 27, 2012 11:56 am

      See, I thought the song was:

      “BigMac/Filet o Fish/QuarterPounder/FrenchFries/IcyCoke/Thick Shakes/Sundaes and ApplePies!”

      That was a favorite in school and at camp in the early 80’s. I think there was a little hand jive that went along with the chant.

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