Overinvolved in food

Do this! No, do THAT! The ultimate guide to parenting healthy kids (parody)

Eat more fish!
But make sure it’s not one of the five bad types or you’ll get brain failure. Eating fish is wonderfully filling, though, and it can be quite slimming.

Eat as many vegetables as you can for your baby!
But make sure it’s not any form of sprout or pre-washed baby carrots, or you will get e. coli and die, or even suffer from suboptimal nutrition.

Eat more honey to fight allergies!
But make sure it is produced within 20 yards of your house. Also, make sure it actually is honey. The organic label is not enough. If you can, chat with the beekeeper and one or two local bears.

Fish is also wonderfully healthy for pregnant women.
But make sure it’s not on the mercury list. If it is, it will make you crazy and kill the fetus as well as any children you have yet to conceive. You may continue to play with your existent children, but only once the glowing stops.

Don’t overbathe your children and wreck their skin by putting them in the tub every single day. But if you don’t, they will look like they have cradle cap, and everyone will think they have lice.

When your children appear to have lice, don’t dump lice shampoo on their heads because it’s poison that doesn’t work. Pay a local nit-salon lady $200 an hour instead. Return every other month as the kids at school reinfect you and your children without hope of any insurance company covering this. (It’s only cosmetic to get rid of bugs living on your head, after all.)

Getting your hands dirty in the garden is good for you — body, brain and soul. But whatever you do, wear gloves or you’ll get toxoplasmosis from cat poop stuck in your fingernails, ingest it, and become schizophrenic, as will your kids. Make sure you wear a face mask, too. You don’t want to breathe in those particles from the soil, although the latest reports last week did claim it was a potent antidepressant.

Sunscreen will not effectively protect you from melanoma. Wear it daily to protect you from the most potent form of skin cancer, melanoma.

Give your kids a large variety of stimulating toys in bright colors. But not red, yellow or orange since those are all tainted with lead if they are not made in the U.S. But don’t worry, there are two known toys that are currently made in the U.S.

Most importantly, have fun as a parent and keep up with the news!

What oh-so-helpful suggestions for parents are driving you mad? Share them in the comments section.

If you kill the sugar, you kill the party

Kids love class parties. They love the tiny mass-marketed Valentine’s Day cards that train them to be dutiful consumers (“You are a Super Friend, Valentine!”).

They love that they get to glue things up and cut things out when they would normally be struggling to pay attention to some grownup inexplicably talking about something at the front of the room.

And they love the food — the junkier the better.

I don’t normally feed my children Lik-M-Aid Fun Dip and Pixy Stix for dinner, but I am certainly not opposed to them receiving these items at a class party, or chugging them when the party monitors aren’t looking. And I certainly do not mind them partaking in treats other than fruit and cheese at a party. But I hear that many class parties are being thrown with absolutely no sugar. Just fruit, thank you. A little cheese, merci. 

Grownups, let’s be serious. If we were at a reception and someone offered us just fruit and cheese, they’d better be damned certain there was some wine to go with that.

For kids, the cupcakes or cookies would be that main event. Because a party without cake or cookies is just a regular old snack time. The kids know this, and they know we know this. And they know that we know that they know this.

So, barring a few health issues and allergies, please, please, let your kid have a cupcake this year.

Just don’t do it every day, and I promise they will all live to be safe, happy adults.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frozen yogurt: This just got real

Nothing sets off my inner copy editor like a cheerful, brightly colored sign full of advertising nonsense.

And grammatical errors. (Oh, how I love to find those grammatical errors.)

“We use REAL ingredients because it’s better for you.”

(First off, is Menchie’s trying to tell us that its ingredients are better for us? In that case, the subject it was looking for is “they.” The ingredients are a “they,” not an “it.” Of course, this presumes that Menchie’s was not simply using an unclear antecedent in the signs that were posted at stores this fall.)

And I am glad to hear that the ingredients are real, and thus do in fact exist. I do hate when I buy food that is a figment of my imagination.

The company clearly wants to tell us that it uses “real ingredients.” Real ingredients as opposed to fake ingredients, I suppose. One could assume that if the ingredients are fake, that they do not in fact exist. Saying that an ingredient is “real” doesn’t give us a whole lot of evidence about what kind of ingredient it is. Just merely that it’s in there, and that it has, um, matter.

Most people will be excited by that and assume that this unregulated and meaningless term “REAL” means that the ingredients are “pure ” (another term meaning nothing), or from organic milk, or more healthful than other kinds of frozen yogurt.

You see, Menchie’s never actually does make that claim, in a legal sense. But the company’s chest-pounding about realness sure does make you feel like you must be doing something healthy as you eat your candy-covered frozen dessert.

But any ingredient that is present in any concoction, anywhere, is “real.”

Even, if it’s, say, artificial flavors. Yup, they are in there. Up near the top of the list for the flavor cinnayumm bun. “Natural & artificial flavors” are on there, right next to modified food starch — perhaps another favorite of the crowd looking for real, healthful ingredients?

These are listed before the third last ingredient, which is … artificial flavor. Apparently, Menchie’s stuff is so real they had to put in artificial flavors twice, in two separate listings.

But I have to give the chain a break, because the company wasn’t making a claim that really goes against any laws. Menchie’s was simply stretching the boundaries of language, and praising the virtues of a product that does, in fact, exist.

Unless, that is, the company wants to make us believe that frozen yogurt flavors full of artificial flavors and covered in commercially produced candy are in fact, from nature (you know, REAL ingredients).

Now that might be misleading.

After all, Menchie’s only said it uses real ingredients. Not that all of its ingredients are real.

Did you read that sign wrong?

Comments welcome.

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Cinnayumm bun ingredients:

https://www.menchies.com/frozen-yogurt-flavors/nutrition/195 

Here are ingredients for the flavor pineapple cake, which bears an impressive badge telling us it contains “real pineapple cake batter.” The ingredients also list the very real “natural & artificial flavors” and later, “natural & artificial flavor,” as well as Yellow Lake 6 and Yellow Lake 5. All real. (On another day, I will discuss how natural flavor is no guarantee of anything close to nature, either.)

https://www.menchies.com/frozen-yogurt-flavors/nutrition/231

The flavor harvest pumpkin boasts natural & artificial flavors, as well as the very real food colorings Yellow 5, Red 40 and Yellow 6:

https://www.menchies.com/frozen-yogurt-flavors/nutrition/213

Trick-or-cheaters: It’s chocolate, now with less chocolate!

Halloween is a time when we let go of long-held standards such as “no candy bars for breakfast” and “no slasher-movie imagery for 18-month-olds.”

And most parents look the other way when another parent steals all of a child’s Almond Joys and pilfers a Twix or two.

But you might want to think twice before sharing in your kids’ take, or letting the kids eat it, because this stuff isn’t entirely made of food anymore.

Some major chocolate brands have taken out the cocoa butter and replaced it with … well, the derivative of a product that sometimes serves as a laxative (like those times Mussolini used it as a way to torture, embarrass and occasionally kill prisoners) or an outright poison, like when it’s used to make ricin, Walter White’s poison of choice on “Breaking Bad.”

Do you want food that comes in close proximity to it? It is made from the very useful castor bean plant, which is widely considered one of the most dangerous plants in the world, and also makes really nifty biodiesel and lubricates machines and engines well. This exciting ingredient is called PGPR, Polyglycerol Polyricinoleate. (See? It even has ricin in the name.)

The FDA knows about it, and deems it all OK. PGPR didn’t kill any rats or give them cancer in the 1950s and 1960s. (And we know how advanced detection of rat cancer must have been in the 1950s and 1960s.) It also helps manufacturers use more soy lecithin. If we eat more of this filler, candy companies can have a better bottom line, and we’ll get less … cocoa butter. I love when companies remove a major component of an item and sell it to me with less of it. Don’t you?

That’s OK, right? You may enjoy eating a viscous, yellow product you would never even touch as a raw ingredient so the company can alter the candy’s thickness for less. And then they can leave out those pesky ingredients that occur naturally in chocolate production, like cocoa butter, that are just so expensive and gooey and hard to use for the beleaguered chocolate company. Wouldn’t you rather they got some extra money by selling off that ingredient to cosmetic companies for other products, rather than giving you the stuff you think you’re already paying for and eating?

On its Web site, Hershey’s explains that it uses PGPR “to improve processing characteristics of chocolate.” It also helps in molding chocolate. Right. Because we know that there were such difficulties with that before 2006, when Hershey’s altered the formula by giving us less cocoa product — and more chemicals that had to be studied in many labs so companies would know how much they could safely feed to us.

It makes you think. How did Hershey’s ever manage to mold chocolate for the 106 years before that? It couldn’t have been that difficult.

It’s merely more expensive.

Hey, chocolate makers: How about you not add products that are fantastic for greasing engines to your products without checking with us first, OK? Maybe you could add a little tag that says “Now, with even more emulsifiers!” or “Rich in ricin derivatives.”

I suppose it is reassuring that the FDA has labeled PGPR as GRAS, Generally Regarded as Safe. An even better idea might be to lobby to change that label to “Generally Regarded as Chocolate.” You know, generally. Or “Now! Even more like chocolate!”

That might be a good distinction to make, since studies that say that chocolate has great health-enhancing qualities all count on it being, you know, made from actual chocolate and actual cocoa butter, and not just the FDA legal minimum of each, along with a substance created in a lab.

As usual, my mother was horrified to hear the news about this quiet switcheroo. “Why are theyputting that in there?”

As usual, the answer was not uplifting. “Because it’s cheaper,” I told her. “Because they can.”

And, finally, they can do this because only a few buyers are reading ingredient labels and asking questions. If you see an acronym, look it up. You may not like what you find.

Some products that do contain PGPR:
Hershey’s
Hershey’s with Almonds
Mr. Goodbar
Krackel
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
KitKat
Twix
Cadbury Fruit & Nut
Cadbury Dairy Milk

Some products that don’t contain PGPR:
Nestle Crunch
Butterfinger
M&M’s
Hershey’s Kisses
3 Musketeers
Theo chocolates
Newman’s Own
Ghirardelli
Lindt

Previously posted on my consumer protection blog, The Old Shoe (oldshoemag.com)

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