Yesterday, I wrote about The Walt Disney Company’s licensing agreement with Imagination Farms (I-Farms) to market the Disney Garden line of produce. While not a fan of no-good-deed-going-unpunished, I expressed my disappointment in one of the world’s most powerful brands getting into the produce business (read more).
Today, I wanted to share with you some of Imagination Farms “favorite ideas to help you get your kids excited about fruits and vegetables and help them start eating more.” As you read, I encourage you to consider who is really benefitting. Kids? Parents? Disney? (My comments are contained within [sample]. Everything else is from I-Farms.com).
- Look for Disney Garden branded fruits and vegetables. The exciting packaging that includes their favorite characters, as well as informational games and activities will help them relate to the products. [While Mickey Mouse may have done some gardening in a cartoon, shouldn’t we be showcasing farmers or their farms?]
- My Favorite Foods: Have your child make a list of their favorite foods. Make sure the list includes at least 3 fruits and 3 veggies. Then make sure that you always have those items in the house and include them in your cooking. [Good idea, especially if they add to the list from time to time.]
- Fruit & Veggie Quest: Kids tend to not want to eat things that they don’t know what it is [Excuse me? Considering how much highly processed and fast foods kids eat, this made me laugh]. Take them shopping with you and have them pick out at least one new vegetable and one new fruit every week. When you bring the item home, talk about its appearance, flavor, texture and other important characteristics of why they chose the new fruit and veggies. You can even spend time together on the internet researching where the item came from and new recipes of how to use it [Since not all Disney Garden produce is organic, this could make for some interesting conversations]. This will help your child feel engaged.
- Chart It: Use the Good Food Gauge on this web site to track your child’s eating habits. This fun and easy tool provides rewards as well. The goal is to eat at least 5 or more fruits and vegetables every day. [Now things start to get interesting, as kids are encouraged to visit heavily Disney brand web site to tell them where they live, what they like, what they eat, etc., while engaging Disney characters in various activities. Unfortunately, farmers are invisible except in the Parents section]
- Collect It: Look for fruit with Disney Garden stickers on it. Have your children print out the collectible pages on our website and then look for that fruit in the store. This will encourage them to try new fruits and collect the stickers like baseball cards and bubblegum [Wow! You can print of 17 different pages with different combinations of produce and then put the little stickers on fruits and vegetables on the pages. At least this will reduce the chance of the stickers ending up in the compost. Who needs baseball cards!].
- Snack Attack: Be sure to have snack size fruits and vegetables cut up in your refrigerator and ready for your little ones to snack on. The easier it is… the more they will eat. [The "eat more" message I found in several places is not the same as eating the right amount. Can't someone start saying "eat less", other than Michael Pollan?]
- Play With Your Food: Kids love to be creative. Look at our kid friendly recipes and help your kids create fun kid friendly fruit and vegetable snacks. [This and the next two items seem like they should be at the top of the list. Unfortunately, building the Disney brand is most important.]
- A Family That Cooks Together: Have your children help you prepare dinner. They can wash the fruits and vegetables, peel the corn or other activities that will make them responsible for their food and help them learn about fruits and vegetables. [See #7]
- Grow With Me: Pick an item to grow in a garden, flowerbed or pot. A tomato works great for this project. The child can help plant the seeds and take care of the plant. This will help them learn about where food comes from and they will value fresh food that they grew.[See #7]
- Healthy Kid Clue: Requires kids to – you guessed it – go to the I-Farms website to learn more by entering package code on the web site. [Every visit offers Disney another opportunity to learn more about brand preferences (characters not carrots).]
At first, it seemed like Disney was doing the right thing, but after considering everything I was able to find, I’m convinced that branding real food (e.g., fruits, vegetables, eggs, milk) with non-food brands (e.g., Disney which is branding all four) is about the worst thing we can do. It further distances people from where their food is coming from, and does nothing to increase the financial rewards going to the hardworking people that grow our food.
We need real change in our food system, not more Mickey Mouse ideas.
Supporter of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays