Entries Tagged as 'culture'

How the ’90s Became the 2000s

December 17th, 2011 at 12:17 am 6 Comments

Last week, I took a (semi) objective look back at the 1990s nostalgia craze in our politics, from Democrats who remember the time with all the glory and majesty as the most ardent Fox Newsie remembers the Reagan ’80s, to Newt Gingrich’s comeback on the Republican side of the ledger.

Before I sign off for the year next week (I’ll be back with reviews of two late December/early January wide releases, Meryl Streep’s look at Britain’s indomitable Iron Lady, and the awards-bait adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel Everything is Illuminated), I thought that perhaps a more personal look back at what and where I was “coming from” in that article was in order, having come of age in the 1990s myself.

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Two Americas

David Frum December 9th, 2011 at 4:22 pm 64 Comments

From my Twitter feed:

Wasserman: 82% of cong districts that flipped from D to R in 2010 had a Cracker Barrel; just 20% had a Whole Foods. http://wapo.st/uHuYRB

Face it Buchanan, America is Changing

November 21st, 2011 at 3:11 pm 143 Comments

In British tradition there is a one-line statement that announces the passing of a monarch:

“The King is dead. Long live the King.”

A political institution with a 1500 year history spanning war, conquest, and in several instances its own apparent extinction, can afford to take a little bad news in stride. The end of one reign is merely the dawn of the next. We, on the other hand, are seldom so stiff-lipped over the passing of an era.

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How `Citizen Kane’ Anticipated Mass Media

November 4th, 2011 at 6:23 pm 16 Comments

As I’ve noted here before, 2011 has seen many a milestone anniversary for some of the most iconic big screen and small screen achievements. Last December and January, Hill Street Blues, Dynasty, and Magnum PI blew out the candles on their 30th birthday cakes, while All in the Family and Masterpiece Theatre turned the big 4-0.

As such, how can we forget the 70th birthday of what is still considered by most people (both foreign and domestic) to be the greatest movie of all time, Orson Welles’ 1941 tour-de-force, Citizen Kane.

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The Fat Diaries: The New Eating Disorders

April 29th, 2011 at 5:42 pm 2 Comments

We’ve all heard of anorexia, diagnosis bulimia, view and even lately overeating described as a psychological mania in people. In fact thanks to America’s new crusade against obesity more hours and study are being devoted to the science of why we eat. If we’re going to tackle this rising problem, we need all the knowledge we can get. I read an article this week about two new eating disorders that are surfacing in the psychological world. The first is adult selective eating disorder, the second is orthorexia.

The first term applies to adults who can only stomach a very limited selection of their favorite foods. It’s much like the picky-eating habits one finds in a child, but the behavior extends into their adult years. I admit I’ve heard of this first one. I have a few friends who abstain from lots of different foods with different textures because it “grosses them out.” In fact one friend (for a time) would only eat food that was white like pasta, crackers and mashed potatoes. In fact, a few years ago I even saw that TV special on Maury or Oprah (or something that was on when my kids were in school) about the woman who only ate french fries. That was it. Nothing else. Well now Duke University and the University of Pennsylvania are trying to get the facts on this rising problem. They’ve started a registry of people to get a rough headcount and plan to do studies on why outside of a few foods, all other foods seem so repulsive.

The second disorder, orthorexia, is a classic example of too much of a good thing being bad. It’s an obsession with healthy food to the point of severely limiting food type and intake to unhealthy levels. Subjects fixate on healthy food to the point of neurosis and starvation akin to anorexia except instead of losing weight the goal is to be healthy and untainted. This condition has been linked to obsessive compulsive disorder and the numbers seem to be rising given the latest emphases on health.

Neither of these are officially classed as eating disorders, but that might change soon, and more disorders may follow as we delve into Fat America to discover what’s going on with us. The big question is, is American obesity a cultural mindset or is it a disease? Both are drastically different stances with different cures. One implies that obesity is the symptom and the latter means it’s the sickness. What does that mean for us?

If obesity is a treatable disease, how do we go about treating it? Do we treat it like an epidemic and try to stamp it out before it spreads, or do we try to phase it out gradually like all the anti-smoking laws and campaigns? If it’s a disease, is it something we send people to doctors for? Will bariatric surgery become the new “tonsil surgery” for the 21st century? Will it be coverable by insurance (obesity’s already a pre-existing condition!). If it’s coverable by insurance, how will Obamacare hold up under it?

These are questions that we need to bring up while we’re discovering more about the science of eating, and I sure as heck don’t know the answers.  An even bigger question though, is will this involve another one-size fits all solution? America right now seems to be focusing on the weight issue more than the health issue. We keep hearing about fat people, heavy people, people with asthma and diabetes, but what about the other end of that scale? What about the orthorexic people and the picky eaters who are dangerously underweight, or even at a “healthy” weight but still not getting the nutrition they need?

Will America be there for them too? Or will their efforts be lauded as geared in the right direction? Before we slap a one-size-fits-all band aid over the problem, let’s keep our focus in check.

If America becomes finicky over who it sees as unhealthy, we all lose out.

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The Fat Diaries: Let Me Have Cake

April 22nd, 2011 at 10:12 pm 2 Comments

I’m thirty years old today. My birthday always falls on Earth Day, treatment which has always annoyed me to no end. Not that I have anything against the earth, pharmacy but it’s about the only holiday where if you open a present people are required to ask if you’re going to save the wrapping and use it again. This year it falls on Good Friday, which is a fast day for Catholics so I can’t even have a huge chocolate cake. That’s right. Huge. Chocolate. Cake. I may write a column on obesity in America but when I hit the big 3-0, I plan on doing it properly.

Maybe it’s a mortality thing. When faced with the realization of our own limited lifespan, a birthday dinner is the mental equivalent of a last meal. Given that we’re thinking about dying we’re inclined to hang the consequences and go, but that’s probably me just waxing morbid. In fact I’m SURE that’s me just waxing morbid. Turning 30 terrifies me. I don’t know what’s so horrible about it considering how much more I have going for me now than I did five years ago. I have two super kids, I’m thinner and healthier than I ever was. I’m no longer at major risk for developing diabetes and heart failure. I’m also seeing my career as a writer and artist taking off in ways I never dared to dream when I was 25.

I’ve lived to see a hundred different phases take the food market. I saw the neon 80s days of marshmallow cereals and colas with “all of the sugar and twice the caffeine,” to the 90s craze for low fat and “lite” and lean, to the 00s craze for Atkins followed by natural and “full of fiber”. Diet pills, flushes, teas, berries, meal plans, support groups, reality shows, and a bunch of other hallmarks of a society struggling with obesity have popped up like mushrooms overnight only to be mowed down. Are we really any closer to our goal than we were in 1981 when NutraSweet was invented? Contrariwise, are we any worse off?

Well mortal or not, I still look forward to seeing what the next thirty years can cook up. Are we going to see more improvements in the food industry or are we going to see food monstrosities the likes of which we can only contemplate (like deep fried Gushers Fruit Snacks)? Only time will tell. Time is now telling me that I have Easter Baskets to make. Happy spring holiday.

And because it’s my birthday today, for no reason, here’s a bunch of junk food commercials from the 80s that I liked. Thanks, YouTube. It’s like I never left.

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Mississippi GOP’s Embarrassing Interracial Fears

April 10th, 2011 at 8:46 am 104 Comments

Public Policy Polling released a survey last week that should cause stomachs to churn throughout polite society; among Republican primary voters in Mississippi, look 46% of respondents believe that interracial marriage should not be legal.

Let’s set aside for a moment the question of whether or not this is a uniquely Republican problem, sale and deduce the basic message: nearly half of the poll’s respondents believe a marriage should be criminalized based simply on the skin color of its partners.   Combined with 14% of those who said they were “not sure”, you have an astounding 60% of Mississippi Republicans believing that marriage between members of two different races may be a criminal act.

As an urban dweller and lifelong northeastern resident, it’s difficult to express my bewilderment with a poll showing the issue of miscegenation still being a considerable issue (one wonders what prompted PPP to even include the question). As a person of mixed race, it’s inherently understood that there are still pockets of the world in which such a thing is frowned upon. However, it’s quite another matter entirely to find 60% of a state’s voters unsure of whether interracial marriage is a crime. After all, those opposed to same-sex marriage fall back on the notion that marriage’s sanctity lies in its partnership between one man and one woman. What justification is there for the illegality of a marriage between one man and one woman of divergent skin colors? There apparently remains a sad but not inconsiderable portion of the electorate that considers the partnership between whites and non-whites to be endangering to societal norms.

There are plenty of substantive policy differences to be had between President Obama and Republican primary voters. But as our first black president begins his campaign for reelection, a sickening number of those who would oppose him appear to believe that his very existence should have been prevented in the first place. As a Republican, there are virtually no circumstances under which I would support President Obama for reelection. Yet all Republicans must acknowledge that a vote on the issues counts the same as a vote for intolerance, and do everything that they possibly can to separate the voice of the former from the latter.

We will likely never make as much progress on issues of race as most of us would like, and yet substantial progress has undeniably been made from the darkest days of our nation’s history. Republicans cannot permit themselves to appear to be a party—as F. Scott Fitzgerald timelessly wrote—“borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

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Why NPR’s Better Off Without Federal Funds

March 13th, 2011 at 11:49 pm 24 Comments

I think it’s safe to say that National Public Radio has had a rough week recently.  Support for NPR funding during the current budget cycle has become a proxy for other culture war debates and perhaps it is time for NPR supporters to ask themselves – is federal funding worth the hassles that relate to it?  Hamilton Nolan summed up the issue in Gawker recently:

NPR gets about 2% of its direct funding from the U.S. government, through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. For NPR’s member stations, CPB funding is about 10% of their total, with other federal, state, and local government sources kicking in another 6%.  This relatively tiny piece of money has been called “a critical cornerstone of public media.” That was the stated position of Vivian Schiller—the NPR CEO up until today, when she was forced out, thanks to that government funding.  It’s not worth it. As long as NPR takes a single dollar from the U.S. government, it will be forced to appease and cater to Congressional Republicans, who know that NPR is a convenient target in the culture war. And—newsflash—NPR will never be able to appease the Republican Party. It simply won’t happen.

Let’s leave partisanship aside for a moment.  Is it really wise for NPR to spend its resources and cultural capital (and by extension, those of its supporters) chasing federal dollars that make up a small part of its total revenue?  In business, it’s not uncommon for a firm to cut loose a client that requires much more work and attention than their payments justify.  Perhaps NPR should consider doing so with regard to federal funding.  That funding makes it a lightning rod for political debate and provides leverage to its political and cultural adversaries during the budget process.

Also, the media and financial world that NPR now operates in is a very different world than when it was created in 1970.  For one thing, we no longer live in a world in which audio news and music comes exclusively via the FCC-regulated radio spectrum.  Satellite radio and the internet have completely changed all that.  As the line between the internet and all other forms of media blur (such as if wireless internet radio becomes a standard accessory in every new car), perhaps longstanding funding models should change because they are based on now-outdated assumptions.  Further, there now exists a mass market for the sort of content provided by NPR which can fund NPR by corporate, private and foundation donations.  One need not be a devotee of the writings of David Brooks to notice that there is a vast source of, for want of a better word, culturally literate and liberal wealth out there that can be tapped, which does not require Congressional oversight.

To be clear, I do not support abolishing federal support for NPR by Congress in the current budget cycle.  Such a sudden move would be overly damaging to NPR because it wouldn’t have time to adjust for an immediate loss of revenue.  Also, while some of those who want to cut its federal support are doing so for bona fide budgetary reasons, some of NPR’s opponents are interested in doing so for purely ideological reasons and I can certainly understand NPR’s desire to prevent giving such opponents a victory.  That having been said, perhaps NPR and its supporters should acknowledge that the market it functions in has changed over the decades.  NPR should begin weaning itself from a funding source that causes it a lot of heartache and opens it up to the sort of scrutiny that any recipient of federal funding can and should expect.  If NPR gives up federal funding on its own terms rather than terms dictated by someone else, it might be better off.

A Conservative Case for Farmers’ Markets

March 11th, 2011 at 6:24 pm 27 Comments

Every Thursday evening, view  around 7 p.m., online I begin checking outside my side door to see if the elves have made their delivery yet.

It’s quite amazing: At one moment the brick stoop is empty. In the next, a rustic white-painted wooden box with a black lid sits waiting for me to bring it in to the kitchen.

I open it with an unfailing sense of awe and wonder.  During the previous week, the elves have been traveling all over the countryside, seeking out the freshest and most delicious things to eat. This night’s offering: some fantastically colored carrots, purple and yellow along with the more familiar orange; filets of local wild flounder, packed in ice; two young chickens, frozen. Under these lie a paper sack of all-purpose flour tied with twine; two tubs of hand-churned butter; a brown bag containing handsome-looking green beans; a scattering of full broccoli heads; and a carton of eggs.

My excitement amuses my children.  Jeez mom it’s just a box of groceries. I examine the carrots.  Compared to their ordinary supermarket cousins, they look truly odd: Aside from the strange colors, they are gnarly and thin—or wait, here’s one that is bulgy and fat.  I rinse and taste it over the sink—sweet, earthy, crunchy–the flavor you think a carrot ought to have but never does.  I offer a sample to our small carrot expert:  she agrees and eagerly asks for another.

There’s less enthusiasm for the fish. No matter: When I cook the filets the next day for their Dad and me—dusting the filets with flour, salt and pepper, and doing not much else to them except sautéing them in some butter—they will taste meltingly fresh and tender.   And as I put the two chickens away in the freezer—weekend supper—I explain to the kids that these chickens actually walked in a farmyard amongst other farm animals in real daylight. (When I get around to roasting them, my husband will be impressed that the muscles attaching their legs to their body require vigorous carving to remove.  They don’t just fall apart. “Maybe they were doing walking lunges around the yard…?” he wonders.)  The flour is unbleached and has been freshly ground in a mill, not a factory using a logo of a mill.  And the eggs have come from the same kind of aforementioned chickens.  I’m especially excited about the eggs. I’d tried my first fresh farm egg last summer, bought on vacation at a rural roadside stand:  It was lighter in texture and color than a store-bought egg, and had much more flavor.  Before then, I hadn’t ever thought much about the taste of eggs or their degrees of egginess. I’d immediately scrambled another for my mother, with whom we were staying, and who was raised in small-town Australia. Her family had kept chickens in the backyard and…

“Oh my gosh, this tastes of my childhood!” she exclaimed before gobbling down the rest of the egg.

As I finish unpacking the box, I realize that I have actually stepped back into my mother’s stories of a pre-refrigerated, pre-factory-farm world of food. She was born in 1935. Australia may have been a bit behind the modern curve by urban American standards of the time, but not by much. She remembers waking up from nightmares to the reassuring, early morning clip clop of the milkman’s horse. Like my little farm box, the fresh bottles were left by the side door and the empties removed (or what we now call “recycled”).  You had an “icebox” not a fridge or freezer—something like the ancestor of the Coleman cooler. If a fruit or vegetable wasn’t in season you didn’t eat it unless it came in a can.  Chickens were—as my mother learned—like house pets you put down less sentimentally than the family dog, and then ate. Beef was universally grass-fed and free-range; agricultural scientists hadn’t yet figured out that it would be more efficient and cost-effective to pen thousands of them together, stuff them full of corn and hormones, and let them marinate in their own manure for a few months before grinding them up into mass-produced hamburgers.

I don’t want to sentimentalize this period, obviously.  And nor would my mother.  In a time when cheap cuts of meat were less plentiful than they are today, she and her siblings were never allowed to leave the table until they had choked down their last piece of heart/kidney/liver or worse, rubbery tripe.  There are vegetables to this day I can’t persuade her to eat—squash, for example—because it was served to her as a canned watery mush when she was a child.

And yet–as I wash and put the box’s contents away–I’m struck by how much of what we are calling today the “farm-to-table” movement is really just a modern re-imagining, or re-invention, of a less industrialized time.  The elves (okay full-disclosure: they are not really elves) who deliver my weekly container work for a nascent web-based company, Arganica Food Club.   Like dozens of similar companies now popping up around the country, Arganica organizes food from regional farms for city-dweller consumption.   Every Sunday I am sent an email with a spreadsheet attachment that lists the coming week’s offerings.  Most of it is seasonal produce and locally raised meat, but amongst the suppliers are also artisanal dip- and cracker- makers, bakers, pasta impressarios, and even pre-fab homecooked meals for the time-pressed.  I check off what I want, email it back, and then the order appears on my doorstep a few days later.

These companies are a natural progression from the now ubiquitous urban Farmer’s Market: instead of waiting for the weekend—or whatever day of the week is officially declared Market Day—I can have the farmer’s market brought to me.  Not that I don’t like going to the Farmer’s Market—there are still some products I can get only there that I can’t get online (a local guy makes pastas and sauces that are to die for; ditto another stall that sells delicious cured meats).  But essentially Arganica and others are doing what even Whole Foods is now too big to do: deliver truly fresh, truly local, truly organic foods that still taste of the place they were grown in.

In that sense we have reached maybe the perfect juncture of old and new: We have the technological abilities (read: modern refrigeration, appliances and online shopping) to achieve the maximum benefit—and enjoyment—from locally grown, fresh food.  And the increasing awareness of this type of food’s health benefits have led to a growing consumer demand, one that small companies such as Arganica are scrambling to meet.

But maybe the biggest remaining hurdle fresh food advocates face is the pervasive perception that to eat locally and healthily is somehow “elitist”—not to mention more costly and time-consuming than buying fast or processed meals.   The minute you purchase an organic apple, you are suddenly lumped among NPR-listening, NYT’s crossword-puzzle-doing, out-of-touch-with-the-common-man liberals. As a conservative—in the robust, Teddy Roosevelt tradition—I am perpetually gobsmacked to find myself on the side of the political fence with people who are enraged that Michelle Obama is trying to introduce healthy foods into public schools—or insist that the right to be obese and eat junk food can be found somewhere in the Constitution. When you think about it, these arguments against preparing meals from scratch are nonsense.

Often an example given is the McDonald’s $1 meal, which we are assured is essential to low-income budgets: Imagine a single mother hauling her children in for breakfast before school drop-off, on her way to work.  No food prep needed during the morning madness when she’s trying to get the kids dressed and ready to leave.  If she has two kids, she spends only $3 (plus tax) on breakfast for the whole family.

Now compare the price of the $1 meal—along with its zero-nutritional value and the future health problems it’s going to create—to a box of Cheerios (“Honey Nut” if you prefer the sweet version). An 18-oz box costs approximately $3.00 at a chain supermarket.  One box contains approximately 17 servings–which works out to about 18-cents per serving, not including milk.  So add in a 1/2 cup of milk—priced at an average of $4 per gallon—and that comes to an additional 12-cents per serving, or 30-cents total per breakfast.  The “prep time” to pour cereal and milk (presuming the kids can’t do it themselves?) surely amounts to less time than it takes to go to a restaurant, stand in line, and pay for the meal.  And less money as well when you factor in gas or transportation costs to the restaurant. I could do the same exercise with lunch or dinner.

Then there’s the “time and convenience” excuse.  We are told that working parents these days are too busy to cook.  And even if they have a spare moment or two, they are certainly too exhausted to prepare a meal

But this argument too doesn’t hold up after a few minutes thought: Maybe never in the course of human history has a society had “more time” than ours to prepare and eat food. And yes, I’m including working single mothers and “dual-income earning” families here.  It wasn’t so long ago that you couldn’t eat a meal without lighting a stove—with firewood or coal.  And back then, it was common for everyone in the household to work and do chores, including children.  There were no microwaves, no electric stoves, no refrigerators, no food processors, no convenience stores or supermarkets. Every single item of food had to be cleaned and prepped from scratch using manual tools. The day ended with lightfall, so you’d better have it all done by then.  And even with the advent of better technology and lighting,  I don’t think an Edwardian or Depression-era household—or a 1950s housewife for that matter—enjoyed  “more time” than we do today. The sheer easiness and convenience of modern life has simply allowed us to busy ourselves in different ways, liberated from the once all-consuming daily tasks of domesticity. And thus we have drifted away from learning very basic, useful household skills.

So while it may seem easier to order in a pizza, or zap a pre-fab mini-meal in the microwave, it’s not really so.  How much extra effort does it really take to get together a bowl of salad (especially given that lettuces now come pre-mixed and pre-washed)?  Or boil fresh beans and toss them with some salt, oil and lemon? Or, as I noted with the fish filet, dust it with some flour and seasoning and fry it or broil it for a minute or two?  You can do the same with simple cuts of chicken and beef. Or put on a pot of pasta and in the space of time it’s cooking whip up very simple homemade sauce.  There’s an app for that.

Then do the economics for dividing the costs of the fresh ingredients among three or four people—for most dishes I doubt it will come out to much more than a large take-out Domino’s pizza.

The problem is that we’ve persuaded ourselves—as we surf the internet, download movies, check our email and play games on our phones—that preparing food from scratch is as awesome and time-consuming as knitting our own sweaters.  Who would even bother to do that?  It’s true that planning fresh meals does take a certain amount of ingenuity and creativity to avoid repetition—moreso than cruising the prepared food aisle or ordering the number 4 with Diet Coke, thanks.  And yet, that’s what makes the emerging farm-to-doorstep market so exciting—and in the end, so easy.

By putting the farm order forms online, you can order your groceries at your convenience—and also have the time to brood over the choices as you check your email or quickly google search a recipe. Arganica, like other sites, even posts fast recipes for that week’s seasonal harvest.  When the food arrives, you’ve already thought the meals through.  And now you don’t need to go to the supermarket for several days. What’s more, everything you make will taste delicious.  Anyone who has grown even so little as a cherry tomato on their patio knows the difference between the fresh-plucked juicy version versus the red cannonballs that fill supermarket bins in January.

I’m wondering, then, if farm marketers haven’t made a mistake by focusing on the homey, nostalgic aesthetic of another era.  At a certain level it makes sense: that customers receive their weekly deliveries hand-packed in wooden crates and paper sacks is a powerful psychological sales tool against the shiny, shrink-wrapped products of mass-produced food.

But I wonder if a better economic strategy wouldn’t be to package fresh farm products in a more contemporary way.  Americans are innately forward-looking.  They want the next good thing, not the good thing of 30 years ago. I’m sure there’s a way to box the food in a “green” container that looks hip and urban—a hint of retro, but not too much. Like the funkily patterned, reusable shopping bags now on sale everywhere—or even something in a smartphone aesthetic: What would an app for a farm-to-table delivery service look like?  Go from there.

Now excuse me while I go trim that broccoli for tonight’s dinner.

Follow Danielle on twitter @DCrittenden1

The Fat Diaries: Why Can’t Cap’n Crunch Sell Healthy?

March 11th, 2011 at 6:20 pm 8 Comments

The University of Pennsylvania recently did a study of children aged 4-to-6 to discover whether kids were influenced by cereal packaging. Namely, rx does a big cartoon penguin on the box make cereal seem to taste better to kids or not?  I’m sure you see where this is going: the studies found that no matter which cereal was sampled by the kids, site they ultimately chose the one with the cute fluffy baby penguins on the box.

First of all, I have one problem with this study in that they only tested kids aged four to six. Kids that age have no buying power. In fact I’m one of the millions of parents who would rather saw their own leg off with a rusty lemon zester than take small children anywhere near a grocery store. I buy the cereal I want my kids to eat and then put them into see-through plastic bins at home. They don’t know what brand I bought, they don’t know what special offer was being promoted on the back. They don’t even know whether I got the really cheap stuff in bulk (the stuff that comes in plastic bags instead of boxes).

The few times that I’ve been forced to take the kids into the store (literally, it was that or starve to death) I have noticed that, yes, they do gravitate towards the cartoon-y boxes of junk cereal, but ultimately I’m in control. They can cry, scream and blubber all they want but it’s my choice what goes into the shopping cart.

There has been a loud outcry against using cartoons and friendly anthropomorphic creatures to promote cereals, candy and restaurant chains and I suspect there always will be. I’m not upset at a company for finding a marketing strategy that works. And public censure seems to be brow-beating some of the more popular chains; for example McDonalds is phasing out Ronald McDonald the Clown. No anti-clown legislation is to blame here, the chain is just weighing negative publicity with sales and deciding that it’s time for Ronald to stick to the McDonalds House Charities and stay out of the salads and frappes.  Is that going to stop major chains and companies from finding ways to appeal to kids?  Heck no.

Of course what I don’t get is why companies promoting healthy cereals and foods for kids can’t get with the program. Would it really kill some of these guys to pander a little to their target market? Take Cascadian Farms Organic Kids cereal for example: C’mon guys! Two tiny little kids hiding protectively behind a logo? Put a damn cartoon squirrel on the box! You could pay a college student $50 to design one–believe me, I’ve been there! I’ve seen a lot of healthy cereals in the stores that are healthy, and some of them even geared towards kids, but you’d hardly know it because it’s all packaged in flat unappealing boxes. Integrity is all well and good, but you still have to market, people!

Some healthy/organic kids cereals have got the idea. Envirokids have always had bright adorable fluffy critters dominating their boxes, like this box of Gorilla Puffs, and I’ve always loved the cute puffin on the Barbara’s cereals.  The design looks pretty staid, but my kids think that little puffin is adorable and they love the peanut butter variety of the cereal. Earth’s Best brand organic food has Sesame Street characters on the front!

So there you go, folks. It’s not exactly a wasteland out there! A parent has options in a world that’s been painted to be bleak and uncaring. Cartoon marketing is a double-edged blade, and you can make it your own weapon in the fight against junk food and false promises! See you in Hell, green check mark!