(this is a rant. I haven’t properly ranted on this blog, but this one is. Just as a warning for anyone who doesn’t want to see it, it’s behind the cut for a reason. I think I managed not to swear. Maybe.)
Recently, I went to the store and headed to the baby/toddler food aisle, intending to get a sweet snack for kiddo to try and maintain sanity during two straight days in the car while moving. Instead of meeting this goal, I came out furious.
Gerber fruit bars have more corn syrup than fruit in them. Plum organics “Mighty 4 essential nutrition” bars have more cane syrup AND brown rice syrup than fruit. And that’s just in the filling. The crust is pumped full of sugar, too. The adult food was just as bad, but at least I expect that. I expect adult snack food to be dripping in sugar, salt, and fat- but baby food? Actually, it’s worse than that. In the adult snack section, I can find fruit snacks that are pure fruit- no added sugar. Seriously. But gerber can’t @#$@ manage it?!
Our society (at least American society) is obsessed with pumping sugar into things- especially things for kids. And it pisses me off. There is no damn need for it. There is no damn need to desensitize kids to sugar at such a young age. And, yes, we do get desensitized to it. When I actually managed to seriously reduce the sugar in my diet for a month, I was amazed at how sweet plain, uncooked carrots are- they taste like damn candy! At least, they do when you aren’t comparing them to straight sugar.
Yeah, this is something that’s a big deal to me. I have fibro AND depression, two things that can be exacerbated by sugar. And I am so damn hooked on sugar that even when eating it caused me EXCRUCIATING tooth pain, I still freaking ate it. And now that I’m seriously trying to cut it hte crap out, I’m finding out everything that it’s in and getting more than a little pissed off.
And it’s also a big deal to me because, as I’ve mentioned, it’s pretty likely that kiddo has problems with corn syrup and if they don’t outgrow it, or worse if they get more sensitive to it- that is going to freaking SUCK in this society.
Plum Organics really pisses me off for this one because they sound so good, but they are not. I got the spinach apple kale Little Yums one time because they sounded good and, at the time, kiddo liked the ones that melt in your mouth which these did. I didn’t look that closely at the nutrition information because it’s ~organic~, right? So it must be safe, I was just scanning for obvious “this is bad” things. I know, my bad, trust me I’ve learned my lesson.
I gave one to kiddo- they took one bite. When I offered it again, they held it up to me, which they were doing so I didn’t think much of it. There was no gluten in it, so I took a bite and nearly spat it out- it tasted like an apple candy that I used to like when I was a kid. This candy, by the way, had literally been covered in powdered sugar and that is how sweet this teething biscuit was. My baby did not take another bite. And it’s not that our kid hates sugar- this kid has eaten parts of a chocolate croissant and girl scout cookies- but this organic, “spinach apple kale”, baby teething biscuit was too damn sweet.
That’s right. They were too sweet for a baby to eat. Their target damn audience found it too sweet. And rather than cultivating this “sugar in moderation” taste in my child, which will promote health in the future, Plum Organics feels that we should decimate this by insisting that babies can’t be freaking trusted to eat healthy without dumping sugar on vegetables.
I looked at the ingredients list, and not only was there more sugar than apple, spinach, or kale, but those three were listed under “less than 1% of”. (they seem to have changed their packaging, but those are still the last 3 ingredients on the list) Less than 1% of each. These “spinach apple kale” teething biscuits contained less than 3% of those ingredients. 97+% carbs and sugar while making parents think their kid is getting fruits and vegetables. Not. Cool.
It just makes me so angry that these brands pass themselves off as being ~healthy~. Gerber acts like it’s the be-all-end-all of infant health, the Gerber Baby is incredibly iconic in this culture. Pediatrician offices have pamphlets from Gerber with advice on starting solids. Plum Organics really gets under my skin because it’s taking advantage of the fact that people equate “organic” with health and all of its products sound so good. “Essential nutrition bars”- doesn’t that just sound like an awesome thing to give your child? Sure doesn’t sound like your kid is getting more added sugar than actual fruit. Ingredients like kale and amaranth and greek yogurt and quinoa and all this stuff that sounds great. And they dump sugar on it. And it makes me want to tear my hair out because why would you take something that sounds healthy and delicious and dump @#$@ sugar on it for a freaking toddler? Their bistro bowls actually sound very, very good- but I really don’t want to buy them because I’m so pissed about the dumping sugar in food for toddlers and calling things “spinach, apple, kale” when there is virtually no spinach apple or kale in the dam things.
There are some brands that I’ve been generally pleased with. Ella’s and HappyFamily have both been pretty good for not going overboard on sugar. HappyFamily’s toddler stuff did annoy me that they’re sweetened with honey and don’t make that more clear, because some under-1 kiddos can handle the food, but honey isn’t safe for them. But, it’s meant for 12 months+, so I get why they don’t feel the need to shout it- I just think it’s not a bad idea to warn folks. It doesn’t even have to be in hte form of a warning, just a “With honey!”.
It just doesn’t seem like it’s too much to ask for the damn baby food section to be a place for a frazzled, harried, exhausted parent to be able to walk in, grab something that looks and sounds good for their kid, and leave.