To ‘Inoculate’ Kids Against Big Food’s Advertising . . . A Lunch Tray Movie!!!

by Bettina Elias Siegel on May 15, 2013

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.

Do You Love The Lunch Tray? ♥♥♥ Then “like” The Lunch Tray! Join almost 6,000 TLT fans by liking TLT’s Facebook page (and then adding it to your news feed or interest lists) to get your Lunch delivered fresh daily, along with bonus commentary, interesting kid-and-food links, and stimulating discussion with other readers. You can also follow TLT on Twitter, check out my virtual bulletin boards on Pinterest and find selected TLT posts on The Huffington Post.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Midge Elias May 15, 2013 at 9:28 am

I am so proud I am practically speechless!

I’m off to send this to everyone via Facebook and Twitter!

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Bettina Elias Siegel May 15, 2013 at 9:33 am

Yes, that would be my impartial mom… :-)

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Rebecca McIlwain May 15, 2013 at 9:45 am

Bettina, this is wonderful! I’m so grateful, hopeful, excited, and inspired by your work here. It’s a well-told, beautifully illustrated story that I’m going to encourage all our Marathon Kids, parents, and teachers to see!
Way to put a positive, effective, marketing message out there. Don Draper would be proud. :)

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Bettina Elias Siegel May 15, 2013 at 9:57 am

Rebecca: Thank you SO much! I would be beyond honored if the video could be shared with the MK community.

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Jeremy Kaspar May 15, 2013 at 10:07 am

Bettina, this is such an amazing video. I just want to say thank you for all of the work that you do every day to keep us informed, entertained, and actively working toward healthier foods for the children of America. Way to go and KEEP IT UP!

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Bettina Elias Siegel May 15, 2013 at 10:12 am

Jeremy: That means a lot coming from you! Thank you!

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Katherine Weber May 15, 2013 at 11:46 am

Way to go! Very well done! We all need to be critital thinkers and consumers in this commercial world we live in … even the youngest kids. This story is a great opportunity for young kids to think about those messages and for parents to talk with our children. Great contribution to the conversation.

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Bettina Elias Siegel May 15, 2013 at 11:52 am

Thank you, Katherine!

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Casey May 15, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Wish this had been around when my children were very young!

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Bettina Elias Siegel May 16, 2013 at 8:52 am

Thanks, Casey, for all your support. I really appreciate it!

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Elena May 15, 2013 at 7:51 pm

So cute! Love it!

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Bettina Elias Siegel May 16, 2013 at 8:51 am

Thank you!

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Stef May 16, 2013 at 8:48 am

Awesome! Great story, illustration, narration, voices, and sound effects!

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Bettina Elias Siegel May 16, 2013 at 8:51 am

Thank you, Stef!

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kate May 16, 2013 at 12:50 pm

Love it! Have you thought about making it a book? I would buy it for my little one and my nieces/nephews.

Although, the Apple-e-bitz theme song is stuck in my head now… even fictional processed food marketing works!

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Bettina Elias Siegel May 17, 2013 at 1:10 pm

I know — I keep hearing Bri’s jingle, too! :-) And I am getting enough feedback about doing this in book form that I will certainly explore the possibility. I’ll let you know and thanks for the feedback!

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Martha May 16, 2013 at 1:04 pm

BEAUTIFUL, very well done, I’m passing this on to the teachers in my school, perhaps they will share it with their students. Again thanks for all that you do.

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Doris Mason May 17, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Hooray for you Bettina! A true gift to those parents struggling to provide a healthy diet for their children. And a wonderful teaching tool for the classroom. Love the illustrations as well as the poetry.

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Syd May 17, 2013 at 4:14 pm

The story is great and my 6 year old daughter was able to recap to me exactly what the story was trying to get across. Thanks for creating such a wonderful story. I only wish the YouTube add that came on before the video started wasn’t for processed frozen pizza. Grrr.

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