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NYTimes article on food pouches: hasn't anyone seen Wall_e or read Michael Pollan?

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http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/21/gar...

Is this really the kind of habits and food attitudes we want to be instilling in our babies? Especially from the "educated" "healthy-eating" type of parent--- it doesn't matter what your current attitudes towards food are, 500 years from now your descendants may be drinking cupcakes in a cup for lunch.

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  1. I was completely lost at first and had no idea what the article was about, because the link takes you to page 3.

    Here's the correct link:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/21/gar...

    1. Its designed for kids to be able to eat something healthy on the go. While I wouldnt support someone feeding it to their kids all the time, I think its definitely a better option than feeding them mcdonalds in a pinch.

      30 Replies
      1. re: twyst

        I think I have to disagree with you. When I saw the paper this AM, I knew that there would be a thread about this article. The Spouse and I already had our discussion about it. Our child is 10 now and I actually find it difficult to remember how we handled feeding during the toddler years. It's true that you tend to forget pain. :-)

        Still, while I appreciate the environmental concerns of this type of eating,that was way down on my list of why I don't care for this trend. I did use jarred baby food but also made some of my own and moved my kid to adult food as soon as it was safe for her to eat solids. She never drank out of a bottle - went straight from nursing to using a cup. And even with afterschool activities 4 nights a week, everyone still parks their butts in a chair around a table to eat together, whether dinner took an hour to make or was picked up from the Chinese take-out.

        To me this is more about socialization than anything else. How does a kid learn to use utensils if every food is slurped from a bag? Glasses, knives, forks, what are they? How do you learn to eat with other people if you consume purees while bouncing around a play area? How do you learn to hold a conversation? Oops, too late on that one. Social media has already killed direct personal interaction.

        It also seems to me that while we're wringing our hands about obesity in general and childhood obesity in particular, here we are handing kids with no understanding of impulse control uncontrolled portions of food to consume at will, whenever the mood strikes them. Anyone else see the dichotomy here?

        Let's be real about whose needs are being served here. This has absolutely nothing to do with keeping our darling little princes and princesses healthy. It has everything to do with Mommy and Daddy not caring to accept responsibility to say "no" or set boundaries.

        Everyone needs items like these for backup when things fly out of control but we know perfectly well that many parents will see the pouches as a complete meal solution, not an emergency Plan B.

        And don't even get me started on the prices. But then again, I'm one of the 99% so this product probably isn't targeted at me anyhow.

        1. re: rockycat

          "I think I have to disagree with you"

          So you think feeding them mcdonald's in a pinch is a better option? That was the point of my post.

          1. re: twyst

            In the long run, yes, I do think feeding them McDonald's in a pinch may be better - with certain caveats.

            First off, I don't equate McDonald's with Satan. I personally don't care for McDonald's food and would avoid it when possible but that's a question of my taste, The fast food vices of choice in our family are Taco Bell and Bojangle's. I don't believe that fast food is inherently evil. Overconsumption of anything is bad, whether it's burgers or pureed fruit.

            I would rather see the family sit down at the table in McDonalds and eat together than have the kids handed a squeeze pouch and plunked in front of a video game.

            And what is wrong with McDonald's "in a pinch," if it is only once in a while, not an everyday thing? We all need our fallback options, but the way this article presented the story, these parents seem to be saying that it's too much trouble to get the kid to eat at the table, so here's a bag of puree, go play somewhere.

            At least at a fast food restaurant you have to make the effort to go there and think about ordering food. If mommy/daddy has a pouch of food stashed in the car and the diaper bag and the computer bag, all I have to do is whine and I get fed. No conscious action on anybody's part required.

            Yes, McDonald's can be bad. So can squeeze pouches.

            1. re: rockycat

              I'm not going to make a long well-formed argument like rockycat but we did receive samples of these pouches last weekend. My kids enjoyed them. I thought they were bizarre and not something I would buy seeing no need for them.
              And I also actually *enjoy* taking my kids to McD's occasionally, a place I hadn't eaten at in 5 years before having kids. Because it can be nice family time that makes my kids happy. Same as my home made dinners, or the brie/pate/"artisan" bread picnic we have planned for the park tonight.
              Everyone enjoy your Friday night dinner :)

          2. re: rockycat

            Where does it say they are uncontrolled portions? Where does it say given at will? These aren't giant feed bags that kids can graze on.

            1. re: donovt

              Are you a parent? :-)

              Look guys, I offered my opinion. Don't agree or don't like it? Fine, I've got no problem there, but are you going to take apart and nitpick every phrase I used? If parents exercise their authority as parents and say "Enough" and mean it, then no, there's no problem with the size of the bag. The problem is that too many parents don't say no and the article does mention that the pouch is used to feed at will. To me that means if Baby wants another, then Baby must know she needs another. No, she doesn't always. The article uses the words, "handing our toddlers the keys to the kitchen," and talks about a mom who reacts to the idea of 20 minutes in the car with a hungry kid with horror.

              These are not parents who will use the pouches as an occasional convenience and will say, "No, you've had enough for now."

              1. re: rockycat

                Then the issue is the parents, not the container. Do you think these same parents weren't giving the kids small packages of cookies before?

                Yes, I'm the parent of an almost three year old. My son has been eating out of these packages since he was old enough to hold them in his own. We use them as snacks and have three sit down meals a day as a family.

                1. re: donovt

                  I saw this article too. Thought it was a little TOO convenient. Let's face it - kids are ALWAYS hungry. Learning to wait a little while (ride home from school, etc) is not that difficult. What they learn instead is that a little bit of whining will grant them instant gratification; a slippery slope for parents. I only raised one (step)child, but he knew "not now" meant something better, later. He is now a parent of a toddler, and tells me it was one of the best lessons he learned.

                  1. re: rockycat

                    I agree, rockycat. There was the line in the article about the pouches being the same as having a TV in the backseat of the car. For some parents it's just another way to duck actually dealing with their kids.

                    We're entering an age where no one actually has to deal with anyone: don't want to listen to someone, put in your Ipod. Don't like the same movies, watch your smart phone or portable DVD. Socialize on line and if you don't want to deal with someone, de-friend them. Don't like what's for dinner, get your own special meal. Don't want to teach your kids to sit at the table and eat, hand them a pouch.

                    I see people say that it's too much trouble to cook because everyone wants something different. So just because they want it they get it? When I was a teenager I had after school activities three or four nights a week and on Saturdays, and my Mom worked. But it never occurred to any of us that I should have different food than the rest of the family -- if necessary, my mom just made up a plate of whatever was for dinner for me to eat early or later.

                    Finally, too many parents have been brainwashed by the babyfood industry into thinking that kids should eat different foods than adults. Now in addition to traditional babyfood there's special food for toddlers and even school kids. I wonder how the human race survived for millenia without jarred/pureed food?

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      The human race survived for a long time without electricity, cars, internet etc...My goal in life has never been to just survive.

                      1. re: donovt

                        Yes, but most people know that a car is not the only way to get from one place to another, and is not always the best way. On the other hand, a lot of parents believe that baby food is the only thing that is healthy to feed their children. Unlike a car or electricity, babyfood isn't an improvement on what people have been eating for millennia. Sure it's convenient to use sometimes, but there's no advantage to feeding your child a diet of baby food. In fact, I think it's harmful, in that it keeps babies dependent on being spoonfed much longer than necessary, and leads to food becoming a battleground with frustrated parents trying to shove food into a kid's mouth.

                2. re: rockycat

                  @ rockycat: Totally agree with you.

                  Having just finished "French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters" and "Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting," these pouches seem to present the opposite (and very American) way of teaching children how to eat.

                  1. re: emily

                    Actually, these pouches have been available in europe for quite some time and are popular there. They are much newer to the US market than they are to the French marketplace, so the tired "these are so american" spiel is not at all applicable here.

                    1. re: twyst

                      Just because they're used in France doesn't mean they're being used and/or marketed the same way. Or are they? The quote from the NYT article below promotes the idea of using these pouches as on-the-go substitutes for sit-down meals, which does indeed seem American to me.

                      "Regular mealtimes just add one more item to the schedule, he said, whereas the pouch supports “those moments and gaps when they can truly be unscheduled. It’s about supporting the idea that they don’t have to have every last second structured.”

                      As Ms. Putman, of Earth’s Best, put it: “We’re always asking more from our children. They’re expected to be involved in so many activities, sports and music and language classes. How do you fit a meal in in between?”

                      Her conclusion: “It’s just necessary to live life on the go.”"

                      1. re: emily

                        But aren't those people the same people who would be stopping for FF as they drive to various actitivities or handling the kid a bag of chips to tide them over? I don't see people going "good, now I don't need to cook dinner and have the family all eat together".

                    2. re: emily

                      emily, I'm glad you enjoyed reading them, but I've read both of those books and they bear no resemblance whatsoever to my experiences as a parent in France.

                      Those pouches have been available in France for **years** -- for adults AND children, and they're extremely popular -- the most popular brand called Pom'Potes, and they're available in a wide range of flavors, and in different sizes for different-sized appetites.

                      Most of them have no sugar added, and there are several brands available in organic.

                      It's. Just. Applesauce.

                      1. re: emily

                        Just looked up the brand of applesauce I use, which is produced by a French company. The pouch they use was introduced in France in 1998. Came to the US in 2008.

                        1. re: donovt

                          Probably Materne, which is the biggest producer of applesauce pouches in France.

                          1. re: sunshine842

                            That's the one. A friend of a friend who is originally from France was very excited when he saw my son eating one. He said he ate them all the time and all his friends in FR gave them to their kids.

                            1. re: donovt

                              they're truly everywhere -- there's one type that's on the regular grocery aisles, as it's shelf-stable....there's another type that's sold only in the refrigerated cases...there's sugar-added, low-sugar, artificially-sweetened, and no-sugar-added...there's apple-strawberry, apple-raspberry, apple-pear, apple-pineapple, apple-mango, and organic versions of all of the above.

                              There a little-bitty ones for toddlers, slightly larger ones for schoolkids, and even larger ones for adults -- if you buy a complete meal at a highway rest stop, you get a sandwich, a drink, a bag of chips....and a pouch of applesauce.

                              They're a completely normal way of transporting and consuming applesauce in Europe...and I'm really just not seeing how the downfall of civilisation and life as we now it is packed in a foil pouch of applesauce.

                              1. re: sunshine842

                                Interesting timing. I just bought a six-pack of these Matern packets (I got apple-banana) at Target in preparation for an extended trip (with our toddler) to the Minnesota iron range, which recently experienced flash flooding. I wanted something shelf-stable because I wasn't sure if we'd be able to get to a grocery store due to street closures (and, as it turns out, our favorite co-op is pretty much inaccessible right now) and I was worried we couldn't bring and store as much fresh fruit as I wanted. A person cannot live on raisins alone. There was nothing weird on the ingredient list: just fruit and fruit juice.

                                I was looking for regular apple sauce, but the "packets" tend to be BPA free, whereas the jars (the underlining of the lids) and cans have BPA in them. The pouches didn't seem any worse than the plastic tubs, and they seemed more portable/less crushable. We used baby-food in similar pouch-like packaging to have on hand for emergencies and for fruits and vegetables that were out of season for those couple of months baby was eating purees. So, I was familiar with the concept.

                                We've only consumed one Materne packet to this point. For about 5 seconds I considered handing my little one the pouch and letting him have at it, but it seemed like a heroically bad, and messy, idea. Instead, I just squeezed the contents into a bowl and then we sat down together and I showed him how to use his big boy spoon to scoop the sauce out of the bowl and into his mouth.

                                It was a lot of fun, actually, because unlike most of the other (chopped up and diced) foods we feed him, the apple/banana sauce "stuck" to the spoon long enough for him to get it into his mouth, which he thought was pretty neat. I plan on keeping these pouches in my purse for emergencies.

                                ~TDQ

                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  You might be interested in this article of bpa's successor - the url belies the content...

                                  http://www.anh-usa.org/is-bpa-free-a-...

                                  1. re: Rella

                                    A note of caution when reading ANH's claims about BPA and BPS - they are an advocacy group mainly focused on blocking regulation of supplements.

                                    1. re: Rella

                                      The NYT did a pretty interesting piece on BPA substitutes about a year ago.http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/18/bus...

                                      As for my personal choices, I try to avoid using what's a known risk, as BPA is, and then just try to use common sense otherwise. For the most part, we eat food prepared from scratch produced by farmers we know. Occasionally, we need applesauce or something similar on the go, so we'll indulge in that. But, applesauce from a pouch is not an every day food for us.

                                      P.S. Even Michael Pollan buys sugary cereal once in awhile: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001...

                                      ~TDQ

                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        Thanks for the urls. As to your first paragraph, I'm always "a dollar short' or is it "a dollar late"?

                                        As to your other paragraphs, same here.

                                        I try not to be a zealot either (Michael Pollan). 'cause it's hard to walk the talk.

                                        1. re: Rella

                                          Oh! I didn't mean it in an "that's old news way"--your comment just reminded me of that NYT story. I'd love to be a zealot but I don't have the energy!

                                          ~TDQ

                                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      My son loves the applesauce as well as the earth's best smoothies. For the most part they're mess-free. He eats them every day for snacks.

                                      When he was little we gave him some of the baby foods in the pouches, but mostly would squeeze them into a bowl.

                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        it's a totally different concept if you take it out of the bag and have dc eat with a bowl and spoon! :)

                                        1. re: fara

                                          I suppose your'e right! But, what crossed my mind is that I was going to have to teach my toddler to squeeze the contents of this tube into his mouth. And why would I teach him that when I really want him to learn to use silverware?

                                          ~TDQ

                        2. Since WHEN is fruit itself not portable? What is this bizzare obsession we have with trying to make already perfectly convenient things more convenient, more *ready*...more wasteful?
                          If your 4 year old can't peel a clementine, OK-- you spend some human TIME with your child and you do it with them, show them how.
                          Yes it might take 100 times before they develop the fine motor skills to peel the clementine themselves but that's called parenting (and yes, I am a stressed time-crunched mom too).
                          Most of those pouchy fruits are non-peel type fruits anyway like an apple, a pear, plum...a children with hands and/or teeth can eat those. No pouch required.
                          Sheesh.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: emmekin

                            You have the wrong attitude. Where is the ROI on an apple? Gotta invent something new, improved, and pricier.

                            Kidding, you know that, right? I always carry a couple of apples in my bag. If kids whine about hunger, I hand them an apple. If they refuse it, I figure they aren't really hungry. The pouches creep me out. So do the ubiquitous drink pouches. Use a cup, for godssake.

                            1. re: emmekin

                              Yeah, I relied on the clementine passed to the back seat method too!

                              1. re: DGresh

                                I did until about the fortieth time I found myself standing on my head in the backseat tracking down all the little bits of skin and pith and membranes and seeds from between the seats, under the booster seat, etc., etc., etc.

                                Most of it got into the trash bag, but enough hit the floor to convince me it wasn't my best move.

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  Mine was more of an "emergency" situation. I particularly remember the time my 20 minute commute took an hour an a half due to a snow storm (and the kiddo was in the back seat, four years old and hungry) and I gave him *my* clementines that I had in my coat pocket as my "eat this not that" method of dieting!

                                  1. re: DGresh

                                    ah, that's "any port in a storm" territory, then -- literally and figuratively.

                            2. Also, teehee I just had to add that I made myself laugh by just saying "Slurpin fruit from a bag" out loud.

                              1. I'm a little bewildered by this one -- those applesauce pouches have been a mainstay in Europe for a number of years now -- you find them not only for babies and toddlers, but in slightly larger packages for schoolkids' snacks, and in larger pouches yet for adults' lunches.

                                No big deal -- and European kids have better table manners than their North American counterparts, hands down.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  I think the few that I bought from Trader Joes were from Europe.

                                  What's the difference, other than packaging, from the apple sauce single serve cups that we've used for years?

                                  1. re: paulj

                                    No difference. People just like to declare everything as a sign that our society is crumbling.

                                    1. re: donovt

                                      Fruit puree with pulp is probably healthier than the juice boxes (often fruit punch) and slurpy cups of apple juice that our kids sucked on 20 years ago.

                                    2. re: paulj

                                      Trader Joes has 2 flavors, apple and apple-carrot. both from France.

                                    3. re: sunshine842

                                      But if you read the article, they're talking about more than portable applesauce as a snack. They're talking about whole meal replacements in a pouch.

                                    4. Eh. Its healthy, less messy, convenient and portable. And like most things, if used in moderation I don't see the harm in them. Id rather see a kid drinking from a pouch at the table than a kid with a plate of food sitting at the Tv. And I would rather hear a kid slurping out of pouch than screaming/spilling stuff of a plane. But I do think that most of the time chewing an apple is better than drinking one and that food shouldn't be too easy to eat.

                                      But at the end of the day it comes down to the parents and what they teach their kids about table manners and nutrition. Balance and boundarys.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. Wow. I read it and shook my head. While I get the occasional cup of packaged applesauce, the fact that American kids are 1) always stuffing their faces and 2) will rarely eat what is being served to the rest of the family, these pouches just cater to the disgusting "eat whenever, mostly on the go," mentality in this country. My parents did not indulge us. No baby food. We ate what they ate--fully spiced, you name it. Hungry? We got a piece of apple until the next meal. No snack food in the house unless it was home-made or some kind of fruit. Family meals at the table with utensils every night, with everyone sitting for the duration, NOT in the back of an SUV. Rant over.

                                        10 Replies
                                        1. re: foodslut

                                          Hear, hear! And for those who says times are different, my niece has been eating table food since she's had teeth -- I remember a family dinner at a restaurant just before her first birthday when she mostly ignored the soft polenta they ordered for her in favor of pieces of her mom's and grandma's dinners. Last night she ate a full-sized serving of bouillabaisses. She's six. I attribute the fact that she's a good eater partly to the fact that she didn't have bland, sweet, textureless baby food shoved in her mouth any longer than absolutely necessary.

                                          1. re: foodslut

                                            this is probably where it gets pointed out (again) that this packaging concept originated in France, which is given near-deity status in the media at the moment for healthy food and angelic children who eat everything given to them and never, ever misbehave. (which is hogwash, by the way -- but French kids have been eating applesauce in pouch for the better part of a decade and haven't attained the levels of obesity that they should if your assertions were true)

                                            It's just applesauce. In a pouch. That's all.

                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                              No, it's not. Did you read the article? It's about ENTIRE MEAL REPLACEMENT in a pouch.

                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                While this thread does reference the article, THIS DISCUSSION (thanks for shouting) has centred on the APPLESAUCE as the sole source of all the evil in the universe.

                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                  I shouted because you didn't hear me the first time (see above). Maybe some people think that applesauce in a pouch is the sole source of all the evil in the universe, but those are probably people who -- apparently like you -- didn't go to the trouble of actually reading the article before jumping into the discussion.

                                                  People who did read the article are trying to have a discussion about whether it's lazy, sloppy parenting to feed your kids meals from a pouch rather than going to the trouble of teaching them to eat real food at a real table with real utensils, and I for one don't care to be treated dismissively by someone who thinks I'm getting upset about "just applesauce."

                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                    I did not once (except for this particularly unpleasant side thread) reply directly to you.

                                                    I was replying to people who were talking about fruit purees.

                                                    And yes, I did read the article. And I will still say that you will not find Satan, or cats and dogs living together in a foil pouch. There will be those who use it as a part of a normal life, one anchored by structured family meals and social interaction, and there are those who will use it as a crutch, just like there are currently those whose idea of dinner is something that comes in a box and is handed through a window.

                                                    Attack the parenting attached to it, not the product itself. (and preferably not those who weren't talking to you to begin with)

                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                      It's almost like people are saying we need to make it more difficult to eat. Perhaps we should hand our kids a knife and a live chicken. "Here's dinner sweetie. Don't cut yourself."

                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                        Exactly. Pouched food isn't going to create lazy parents and won't be the downfall of society.

                                                        1. re: viperlush

                                                          That's what I've been trying to say. Lazy parents will find a way to be lazy. My son has somehow learned how to eat with a fork and spoon despite eating some meals and snacks out of pouches. He even likes to help me in the kitchen when I'm cooking. He's a pretty picky eater, but I really can't imagine that it's the pouches fault.

                                                      2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                        There essentially two topics here:
                                                        - use of applesauce (and related) pouches as car safe snacks
                                                        - use of nutritionally balanced pouches as the main meal(s)

                                                        About the meal thing - I think there is a strong cultural component to our ideas of how and when we teach kids to eat 'properly'.

                                                        Learning to eat at the table, with utensils, and engaged in polite conversation with the whole family has a certain middle class American nuclear family ring to it. For some of those families, saying grace before, and some sort of family devotions were (are) an essential part of that family upbringing.

                                                        But I can think of times and classes where that wasn't the essential structure. Imagine, for example, an aristocratic British family (or upper crust American) with mom and dad (and guests) eating in formal dinner attire, while the children are eating elsewhere under the supervision of a nanny.

                                                        Or a more patriarchal society in which the men (and boys above a certain age) eat in one room, and the women and younger children in the kitchen. And everyone carefully using their right hand to pick up the food.

                                                        Or subsistence farmers or hunter gatherers where kids up to age two are riding on mom's back, and nursing as needed.

                                                        For a while we had south Indian neighbors. Parents were both working; grandparents often came from India to visit; the kids spent 6 mths at a time in India living with the grandparents. Often the kids were fed rice and yogurt around 6pm, while the parents (and any resident relatives) ate spicier meals later in the evening. And at least one of the kids developed a taste for microwave mac-n-cheese, in preference to the traditional Indian dishes.

                                                        It seems to me that the alternative meals discussed in the article are no more worse or different than the ones I just outlined.

                                              2. Builds strong teeth and jaw bones, I've heard.

                                                1. If it is good enough to go to the moon and the International Space Station (not to mention Skylab and Mir) it should be good enough for our children.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. I found a good alternative to these throwaway plastic pouches. There's a reusable pouch product called the Squooshi packet or another one called the Little Green Pouch http://www.littlegreenpouch.com/. The environmental effects of these packets is something we should all take into account. I used these things with a fair bit of guilt until lately we finally decided to cut them out. It's ironic we're using these little plastic pouches for our children's health when our children and their children's children will be living with them in their environment. It's a lot of plastic waste for a single serving. And imagine millions of them making their way to the landfill. They aren't made from recycled plastic nor are they recyclable.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: roadtorome

                                                      depends entirely on where you are. They're completely recyclable in Europe.

                                                    2. I am not a parent and really know next to nothing about kids (never really babysat etc). But, my mom and I were up in Yosemite this past spring, and she saw a woman at the table next to us feeding her toddler with one of these pouches. My mom freaked out (in a good way) about how great that pouch is, especially for when you need the food when you're out and about and don't want to deal w/ jars, spoons etc.

                                                      I don't think they should be used as complete meal replacements, but I think they're great for when baby is hungry and you're not in a place that's real conducive to having glass jars etc around and the kid isn't old enough to eat regular snack foods without making a giant mess. I'm not sure I'd want to feed my 5 year old one of those though... at that age I imagine they can manage fruits and cut up veggies on their own.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: juliejulez

                                                        they're consumed by adults in Europe -- picnics and on-the-go, when "drinking" applesauce is easier than eating it with a spoon.

                                                        They're available in all kinds of nice flavors, too -- apple, pear, peach, red fruits...