My mother was a single mom for a time when I was young. I am certain free time was a luxury for her while working full time and raising me. I remember many we ate TV dinners on our TV tray watching, you guessed it, TV.
I liked my Swanson’s dinners. My mom was a master TV dinner cooker. Cook it too long, the brownie burned. Too short, the mashed potato emerged as one hard and angry square. I don’t know if my mom knew how many preservatives and sodium were in those dinners. And you know what? I don’t really give a shit.
I saw in the news that Kraft announced this week that it’s removing artificial preservatives and synthetic colors from its product by early 2016, which means no more bright orange color. Triona Schmelter, Kraft’s vice president of marketing for meals stated that “Consumers have been telling us, and parents in particular, that they want to feel good about the foods that they eat and that they serve their families.” Kiss my ass, Triona.
I like the Mac and Cheese just the way it is. I like the orange goo that forms in the corners of my mouth when I eat it. I experience joy when I combine the perfect water to powder ratio, creating an orgy of orangetasticness in my mouth. There is no way my Mac and Cheese is going to taste the same without its perfect ginger hue, otherwise it wouldn’t have been in there in the first place.
And here’s the other shocker — I don’t feel bad serving it to my kids. I am a married mother of three children. My husband and I work full time and have a life outside our work and my kids (cue more gasping). There are many nights I serve home cooked meals prepared from wholesome ingredients. I’m actually a person who enjoys cooking. But there are other times when popping open a box of Mac and Cheese or a Totinos Party Pizza is just as enjoyable.
Are these the healthiest options I could serve my family? No. Are there preservatives and chemicals and saturated fats in them? Yes. But when I have a total of 34 minutes at home to feed my entire family before we head in different directions to bring one kid to hockey, the other to soccer while the third chills in his car seat watching Peppa Pig on our iPad (I’ll wait), it’s the best I got. Could I have gotten up 30 minutes early this morning to throw something healthy in the crockpot? You bet. But I didn’t. Sometimes it’s because I need those precious few minutes more of sleep. Other times I am sneaking in sex with my husband. And sometimes my kid irritated me so much the night before I don’t feel like going out of my way for them.
I know many parents out there who say it’s our job as parents to protect our kids from every possible harmful product in the world. We should only serve fruits and vegetables and organic, grass fed lean meat from cows that are hand fed non-GMO corn from the hands of virgins. And yes, ideally this would be best for everyone. But here’s the thing: My kids not going to develop lifelong health issues because they consume the occasional orange noodle any more than an unprocessed eating, Paleo following child will when he consumes an entire box of Skittles dipped in Nutella the moment his mother turns her head to refuel her helicopter.
I think as a society we are swinging too far in the other direction. Sure, it is better to be educated on what is in our food. But we parents shouldn’t feel guilty sitting down with our kids every once in a while and devouring an entire package Oreos (served with organic Almond Milk of course).
All you middle of the road mothers out there sing it with me:
Leave our mac and cheese alone!
Related post: 10 Reasons Cooking For A Family Sucks