Welcome to the 21st Century
Those halcyon days are gone. In the 21st century, the “snack” shelves in every grocery store across North America and Europe are taking up exponentially more real estate. And in response, the occasions on which it is deemed necessary or desirable to have a snack has also grown exponentially. For instance, it is no longer acceptable to turn up at the following places or events without a snack for your children:
1. The neighbourhood park. Even if the park is two minutes away and, judging by previous visits, your visit will last for a grand total of six minutes. In fact, I now believe that the whole purpose of going to the park is to eat a snack outdoors.
2. Any child’s sporting event. Soccer, baseball, hockey—all must include not only a snack, but a “snack schedule.” I did an informal Twitter poll and found out that 99% of moms don’t support the idea of the structured snack, yet somehow that 1% who do turn up at every single sports team orientation meeting, spreadsheet in hand. I am now starting an informal “Stop the Snack Madness” campaign for my children’s sports. The kids are not speaking to me, but it’s worth the price.
3. The shopping mall, an indoor playground, or any outdoor venue such as a zoo, water park, or hiking trail. The only exception to this rule is the movie theatre, where you can conveniently purchase an overpriced snack for your expectant child.
It’s out of control, it really is. The snack culture has to be a major contributor to those soaring childhood obesity rates we’re constantly reading about, yet year after year, food manufacturers find ways to stuff new flavours, new shapes, and new syndicated cartoon characters into brightly coloured foil packages for our children to admire and consume after countless hours of in-store whining and begging.
And while I am a supporter of any food category that attempts to ensure that bacon is a major flavour ingredient, I struggle with letting my children have these snacks. Inevitably, it ruins their dinner. They don’t eat, I get annoyed, and the atmosphere found most nights at my dinner table becomes even less pleasant.
As if the “bad dinner scene” fallout isn’t bad enough, the cycle of eating at the wrong time and not eating at the right time continues through the evening.
Excerpt from “Shut Up and Eat! Tales of Chicken, Children and Chardonnay”, © Kathy Buckworth 2010. Reprinted by arrangement with Key Porter Books.
Visit Kathy Buckworth online at KathyBuckworth.com.