Tips for busy parents or abuse of authority?

rdI noticed lately there’s been an inordinate number of articles floating around on CBC about food/nutrition/health. There certainly is a trend there these days. Some are more obvious than others in their premise and I have to say most carry an important message that I agree with – eat local, home cooked foods, eliminate processed sugary foods and move. This message has been mulled over so many times that it no longer seems necessary to repeat. But this article is different. This article makes my blood boil! 

Why am I so angry over this article that’s supposedly helping busy parents feed their children? Well, let me start by saying that a person who is in position of authority on food should have your best interest in mind, like a doctor, or a dentist or a surgeon. And when this is not the case and you need to figure it out for yourself, there is certainly something wrong with the system.

A local dietitian Stephanie O’Brien lists seven tips on how to feed your children healthily, economically and fast. First let me tackle the tips that make sense and I’m somewhat in agreement with:

Tip #1 and #2 and # 4: Make a big pot of something – to me this is a no brainer and I’ve always devoted one day per weekend to, not so much to make a big pot of something, but simply to prep things that take a long time. For example, I bake all my sweet potatoes and put them in an air tight container to then serve in my meals throughout the week. Same goes for green beans, spaghetti squash, butternut squash… you name it. All big batches of veggies are cooked on the weekend. 

Tip # 3 Keep the food guide in mind – Well, when you realize that it’s indirectly created by the food industry it doesn’t make so much sense to keep it in mind when cooking.  

Tip # 5 Pre-made salads – this must be the silliest tip ever. How is this economical? To pay in the range of 6-10$ for pre-cut veggies is just pure waste. I can see somebody paying this in a pinch, such as when travelling, but to advise busy parents to spend that kind of money on a salad in a plastic box is just not OK. You are better off taking your 10$ and walking along Route 60 and buying your veggies from local farmers than buying these salads. Go home, chop your veggies and voilà, much more food for your buck! 

Tip #6: Those hot roasted chickens are just plain awesome – Or are they? They run about 10$ a pop as well, so not cheap by my standards. You get a greasy little bird – literally little – and you don’t really know where it’s been and what’s been put on it. I see it going one of two ways: 1. In season you can get a bird 4 times as big from Oliver’s Farm at Placentia Junction. Now I know if you are in St. John’s you won’t be going all the way to Whitbourne, but Del comes over to the St.John’s Farmer’s Market in the summer.
2. You could add another 2-4$ and you get two big packages of skinless and boneless chicken breasts when they go on sale at Dominion or Sobeys. I always buy 6-10 packages when they go on sale, freeze them and they last me until the next sale. I never pay full price of 20-24$ per package.

Tip #7: Frozen dinners can be good too – NO they can’t! And here is where I just want to scream BLOODY MURDER! How in the right mind a dietitian feels right about recommending Healthy Choices to parents is beyond me. Healthy Choices is what’s wrong with the grocery store. She compared a Healthy Choices serving @ 283g with a Hungry Man serving @ 425g. They look slightly different in terms of their caloric value, sure. But notice that we are not comparing apples to apples. One is half the size of the other! Even when you double the Healthy Choices meal to meet the serving size of the Hungry Man meal, the Healthy Choices meal still looks a bit better… or does it? In my opinion it doesn’t. Just have a look at the ingredient list. Would you put that in your frying pan if you were making it yourself? I hope not. But frozen dinners need all these foreign ingredients to keep them “fresh” until you cook them. It really isn’t healthy. And it really does not take that long to sautée some chicken and vegetables yourself.  Just do it! 

Tip #8: When you are stuck there is always pasta – In my opinion pasta is a filler and we are already eating enough fillers. Opt out of pasta in favour of green, leafy vegetables. Let’s face it, pasta will ultimately be covered in thick, greasy sauces, because who is interested in eating bland pasta?

Sorry, but this article however well intentioned it was, is just not cutting it for me and rather is spreading the misinformation to unsuspecting parents. Cooking is not that difficult and time consuming. What else are people doing with their time? We all go to work, we all have houses that we have to take care of, we all have hobbies and we like to watch TV and read. And we still have to find time to make the food we eat. If we don’t, then we are all going to pay the price sooner or later. If we allow the food industry to feed us the garbage they produce we will all continue dying prematurely from diet induced disease.


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