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My sister and I were commiserating over a subject that annoys the both of us enormously. Kids and vegetables. If I see one more idiotic and misleading commercial about how kids are phobic of eating vegetables that their moms have to disguise them, I’ll scream. Apparently kids are so vehemently against vegetables that the only way they will eat them is to be processed into some other food product they will eat. Like macaroni and cheese. My sister has three girls, and the older two love their veggies. These two will eat the Italian broccoli, otherwise known as rappini, with great gusto. They love it. Rappini is somewhat bitter, and I can see how most kids would be turned off by the taste, but they never disliked it. Then again, my sister and I were raised on lots of wholesome food, never any of those TV dinners, instant mashed potatoes or green bean casseroles other people eat. We always had at least two vegetable dishes at dinner, and fruit afterwards. Dessert was not always in order, generally on special occasions.

Parents don’t know how to feed their kids because either they don’t care, don’t have the time to prepare meals, or just lazy. Everything has to be pre-packaged, ready to eat, because Americans want instant gratification with whatever they need in life. Cooking a meal is too hard for some people. Serving one’s children healthy meals is too much of an effort, so the kids get junk food because it’s the cheapest thing out there. Ever wonder why low-income families live off junk food? Because it’s cheap and readily accessible. The other problem is that NO ONE is showing them the meaning of healthy eating.

The food companies who were responsible for those commericals that stoked my ire have a clever scheme in play. Convince parents that their kids despise eating fruits and vegetables through their advertising, and they’ll rush out to buy the products offered, which promises to be as nutritious as several servings of vegetables. Honestly, are Americans that incredibly stupid? Hm, well, apparently some are that dumb. A steady diet of vegetable fortified mac and cheese? Fruit drinks that supposedly contain a day’s serving of fruits and vegetables? Give me a break. I really don’t know how someone can live on a steady diet of meat and very little greens or fruit. What does all that meat protein do to a body over a long period of time? Do they ever worry about what it does to their insides, like constipation and such?

Growing up, kids thought my sister and I were weird because we didn’t eat lots of chips, or have sugary cereals at breakfast. Our parents felt those kinds of things were not beneficial or healthy, so they didn’t buy it. It didn’t really bother me that much, come to think of it, and I wasn’t scarred for life. We didn’t drink soda at every meal, though sometimes we’d have it. It wasn’t that much of a basic staple of our diet. My dad was raised on very basic meals, lots of vegetables from the garden in his native Italy. That was normal for him, and he thought it was good for us too.

I can’t understand how some people think Pop Tarts is a healthy breakfast, with all that sugar crusted on top, or that having a can of Coke is equivalent to a bowl of cereal. My mom sees kids eating like that where she teaches and it nauseates her. We have kids suffering from adult diabetes now, kids who are morbidly obese that has nothing to do with genetics but carelessness.Kids complain they’re getting teased for their weight, but how’d they end up that way to begin with? It didn’t just appear overnight all of a sudden. Parents can’t be bothered to take the time to even properly care for their kids, or they haven’t been shown a good way to do things. They think cooking is a chore, that it’ll take forever and a million other excuses. It’s not that hard, seriously. There’s bagged salad you can rinse and serve, but don’t get iceberg, because it has absolutely NO nutritional value. Frozen vegetables, which I’d take over canned. You can microwave frozen vegetables, the directions are on the bag! The culture of instant satisfaction is killing us, because we can’t be bothered to wait for anything anymore, even healthy food. Do we ever consider what all those preservatives in food are doing to us over the long term? Artifical flavors and colors? Even the quality of produce is to be concerned, especially when it’s more profitable to cut back on food safety in order to make more bucks. How about all those eggs we eat? Ever wonder about the conditions where those eggs are harvested? Parents need to wake up and start caring about their kids. They need to stop relying on cheap, pre-packaged food that has very little nutritional value to feed their kids. You don’t need to rely on fortified drinks or vitamin enhanced sodas to survive. I don’t believe most of the claims on the packaging of such stuff anyhow, because it’s already slanted in favor of the company who makes it.

What’s more important; being healthy or saving money? Sure, both would be nice, but if you’re not healthy because of your diet, it’s going to cost you a lot more in the long run. Don’t feed your kids cheap, overprocessed crap because it’s available. Think about what they’re putting in their bodies and how it will affect them. Eating well doesn’t need to be expensive or a chore. There are sources out there if you’re willing to look. It’s worth it.