In March, 2011 I was honored to be chosen as one of the winners of a Slate magazine anti-childhood-obesity crowd-sourcing contest. My submission, entitled “Legislate, Educate and Inoculate to Create Food-Savvy Kids,” argued that we need to fight the problem on three fronts: legislation to curb the food industry’s rampant advertising to children; widespread nutrition and cooking education; and what I called “inoculation.” On this latter point, I wrote that we need to:
. . . inoculate kids against the forces that lead to unhealthful eating, akin to that used to discourage teen smoking. Kids generally don’t like having someone try to pull the wool over their eyes, so just as we’ve made them savvy about the tobacco industry’s insidious techniques to get them to use cigarettes, we need to show kids that the food industry is, in a very direct way, making money at the expense of their own health.
Over two years have passed since I wrote that essay for Slate, but I continue to believe that one of our most promising strategies is showing kids how they’re quite deliberately manipulated by the food industry — to the tune of almost $2 billion in children’s advertising dollars spent each year — into choosing highly processed food and fast food over more healthful options.
I looked around for an illustrated story book with this message intended to reach younger children (say, pre-K to early elementary). But other than great nonfiction books for older readers, like The Omnivore’s Dilemma for Kids, I couldn’t seem to find what I was looking for. And so . . .
Starting with a bouncy, rhyming story which started popping into my head while I was sitting in my kids’ piano lesson one day, I created illustrations on my iPad and then enlisted friends and family, both here in Houston and around the country, to do the voice-overs. My narrator is the super-gifted Rachel Buchman, a professional singer, teacher and voiceover artist (and Grammy semi-finalist!) and you’ll even hear fellow blogger Bri, of Red Round and Green, singing a radio jingle!
I had so much fun creating this video and if you like the story and its message, I only ask one thing in return:
Please consider sharing on Twitter and Facebook – thank you!
And now settle in (for about 12 minutes) and enjoy. And if you do show the video to your kids, as I very much hope you’ll do, please let me know in a comment what they think of it. I’d love the feedback.
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