Saturday, August 28, 2010

Open Letter to Julie Daniluk and ETalk Canada

(Update: Find out the outcome of this post HERE where Julie and I exchanged emails and came to an understanding about the Etalk Canada piece.)

Julie Daniluk and eTalk Canada, I'm really annoyed with you.

There I was, in my kitchen canning tomatoes and a segment on your show caught my eye. It was about back to school lunches, and so I stopped what I was doing and watched.

I can't BELIEVE what you told people. (watch the video here)

Julie, oh Julie...WHY on Earth would you tell parents to assume that their child will get tired of apples and find them boring, then put the apple back? As if that wasn't bad enough, you then had to chirpily suggest apple "chips", and then "candy made with real fruit"!

I stood there with my mouth hanging open in horror. You are a nutritionist. When you blathered on about kids wanting something colorful and just to "fit in", I almost threw something at the TV.

Are you seriously suggesting that parents send fruit snacks that "are like a true jellybean" in with their kids for lunch instead of real, unprocessed fruit? In fact, I was stunned-you are standing in a produce section, next to a pile of fresh apples, and all three of the products you plugged were processed. Whatever happened to giving creative ideas for serving fruit? With dip? Kebabs? Try frozen over yogurt? You're the nutritionist, for God's sake!

I have worked with kids for 18 years, in schools, and supervised countless lunch hours. Kids don't need jelly-bean like candy to fit in. They need good, healthy food to get them through the day.

Do you seriously expect me to believe that all the antioxidants from fruit are going to survive the process that made them into candy? And what about the kid's teeth? Dentists say that dried fruit and fruit snacks are the worst things for a kid's teeth because they are so sticky. Maybe as an occasional treat they would be fine, but instead of whole fruit?

Were you paid to recommend those products? Was the spot sponsored?

Another item the list of "recommendations" was Odwalla. Have you looked at Odwalla fruit smoothies? I looked them up. The container has two servings in it. Most kids would down the whole thing, which, in the Mango Tango flavor, adds up to 300 calories and about 60 grams of sugar. How about the Superfood drinks? If the child downed the whole thing, that's 260 calories and 50 grams of sugar. That's more than a 12 oz serving of COKE.

I don't care how "healthy" you want to label it, a child doesn't need that many calories in a drink with their lunch. They need water, plain and simple. I wouldn't even let my teenager consume that with his lunch. *I* wouldn't consume it with my lunch!

Kids will eat healthy, whole food if we let them. Sending the message to parents that they should give their kids candy "made from fruit" because they'll be bored of fresh, or need it to fit in, and give them calorie and sugar laden drinks because the celeb kids are having them, is irresponsible and WRONG. I would think that you, as a nutritionist, would know this. We're in a time where we parents might out live our kids, and obesity rates are alarming.

You are supposed to be championing healthy eating for our kids. YOU have the exposure, the education, the job that speaks to the masses. You have a platform like no other to promote healthy eating for our nation's children. You had an opportunity to use that platform to promote truly healthy food-and not just that, but with messages to parents that healthy eating is do-able, it can be fun, and kids don't need all the crap to fit in.

Instead, you chose to throw it away and cave to products that pose as healthy, but when one looks deeper, actually aren't. You sent messages that are confusing and wrong. Way to go. You just made my job, and the job of lots of other Moms a whole lot harder.

I think my 14 year old summed it up best. After the segment, he turned to me and said,

"Why would a nutritionist be promoting candy made from fruit? What the hell is she thinking? " (okay not really Jake's quote-decided that his actual quote might be best NOT put in print)

My thought exactly.

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