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What's squishy, pureed, and comes in a pouch?
June 22, 2012 9:02 AM   Subscribe

Have food pouches become the mainstay of the eating culture of young American children? "Mr. Grimmer believes the pouch’s popularity can be attributed to the emergence of a new way of relating to our children. He calls it “free-range parenting.”Parents, he explained, want to be as flexible as modern life demands. And when it comes to eating, that means doing away with structured mealtimes in favor of a less structured alternative that happens not at set times, but whenever a child is hungry." Some people have concerns about the trend.
posted by Xurando (206 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sitting down to a family dinner is becoming a lost art...and that's a shame, for a lot of reasons, the main one being for some families, that's the ONLY time they ever connect.
posted by Kokopuff at 9:06 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mr. Grimmer believes the pouch’s popularity can be attributed to the emergence of a new way of relating to our children.

You mean treating them like babies for their whole lives? It's baby food in what is essentially a baby bottle.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:08 AM on June 22, 2012 [17 favorites]


It's the 21st century already. Shut up and suck.
posted by Devonian at 9:11 AM on June 22, 2012 [19 favorites]


PASTY WAR!
posted by clavdivs at 9:11 AM on June 22, 2012


Sitting down to a family dinner is becoming a lost art...and that's a shame, for a lot of reasons, the main one being for some families, that's the ONLY time they ever connect.

And for which reason I'll be forever thanking the gods.
posted by 2N2222 at 9:12 AM on June 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Food pouches tend to be twice the price of baby food that comes in regular containers, so this "trend" really only applies, I think, to parents with more money than time.

Food pouches had just come out when our youngest was still eating baby food. We bought some as a novelty but realized they were just impractical for our budget when the regular stuff was cheaper and the hand-crank food mill was even cheaper than that.
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:13 AM on June 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Sys Rq: "Mr. Grimmer believes the pouch’s popularity can be attributed to the emergence of a new way of relating to our children.

You mean treating them like babies for their whole lives? It's baby food in what is essentially a baby bottle.
"

It's called "Neoteny" (I'd consider it a meta sort of neoteny of the human species, not the traditional form).
posted by symbioid at 9:13 AM on June 22, 2012


It's baby food in what is essentially a baby bottle.

....You know, pointing that fact out is probably the best way to turn a kid off these things.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:13 AM on June 22, 2012 [14 favorites]


Is this actually a thing? Or is this our weekly dose of Is X destroying the American Family? from the NYTimes?
posted by modernserf at 9:13 AM on June 22, 2012 [41 favorites]


The Onion to the rescue, predicting the future?
posted by volition at 9:13 AM on June 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


At around $1.25 to $2.00 per 90-100 calorie serving, I'm not sure these are going to become the mainstay of the eating culture for anybody. Outsourcing your portion control to manufacturers is rarely sensible economically.
posted by helicomatic at 9:13 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wtf, seriously just wtf. Notice how most of these are fruit-based? Your little ones are just sucking down sugar-sludge.
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:13 AM on June 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


"Free-range parenting" would suggest allowing children to wander the neighborhood and forage, not handing them packets of processed sugar and soy.
posted by notyou at 9:15 AM on June 22, 2012 [22 favorites]


He calls it "free-range parenting" but the author of Free Range Kids is not happy about that.
posted by waterlily at 9:15 AM on June 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


Food in a pouch gives me the creeps. I don't know why; something about eating from a wrapper.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:16 AM on June 22, 2012


So like most NYT Shock Horror Probe stories, it's a total Not A Thing being done by a small minority of insufferable fits blown out of proportion in order to sell your anxiety back to you.

That being sad, family meal times have been locus points for horrifying family dynamics and the origin of barque eating disorders in quite a few people I know.
posted by The Whelk at 9:17 AM on June 22, 2012 [12 favorites]


I know that string cheese just ruined me for regular cheese.

Wait, that didn't happen.

I think as long as this stuff is used for a snack, and not as a meal replacement, it beats the froot by the foot, teddy grahams, and dunkaroos of my generation.

I still love me some string cheese.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:17 AM on June 22, 2012 [26 favorites]


It's baby food in what is essentially a baby bottle.

....You know, pointing that fact out is probably the best way to turn a kid off these things.


Or you can tell them it's astronaut food. That could have been a great marketing angle in the 60s and 70s.
posted by 2N2222 at 9:17 AM on June 22, 2012


We don't have kids, but my wife and I noticed these in the store for the first time maybe a month or two ago and said, "hm, that looks stupid and wasteful; fuck these people."

Actually I may have been the one suggesting that "these people" get fucked, but I like to imagine that the sentiment was shared.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:18 AM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh, family meal times. It's taken me to age 27 to stop feeling bad about not finishing everything I was served.
posted by griphus at 9:18 AM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


There must and shall be booze in this format.
posted by colie at 9:18 AM on June 22, 2012 [11 favorites]


Umm... we used them as "on the go" snacks for daytrips before our little terror turned two, and still use the applesauce ones for that purpose. I don't think they're meant to be used as meal replacements.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:19 AM on June 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


it beats [...] teddy grahams

You take that back right now.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:19 AM on June 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


There already is
posted by griphus at 9:19 AM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


ThePinkSuperhero: "Food in a pouch gives me the creeps. I don't know why; something about eating from a wrapper."

You never had some sweet, tasty BBQ joey fresh from the Kangaroo...
posted by symbioid at 9:19 AM on June 22, 2012 [12 favorites]


No offense to the doom and gloom crowd but if it was remotely healthy and reasonably priced, I'd totally eat these. I'm just waiting for the food in pill form science fiction promised us. Failing that some kind of nutritious People Chow.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:19 AM on June 22, 2012 [11 favorites]


(Body-temperature vodka? Mmm-mm, good.)
posted by griphus at 9:19 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


So the latest moral panic is all about kids eating applesauce out of the wrong sort of container?

There may be more to it than that, but fruit puree in a soft pack hardly seems worth the outrage. Would the outrage exist if this was in a little plastic cup? Or if it were scooped out of a large glass container?

This stuff is expensive but convenient. It's a natural result of more work and less time, and perhaps the overbooking of kid's time as well.
posted by jclarkin at 9:20 AM on June 22, 2012 [22 favorites]


teddy grahams at least require the use of one's teeth.
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:20 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is this actually a thing? Or is this our weekly dose of Is X destroying the American Family? from the NYTimes?

I vote the latter.
posted by 2N2222 at 9:20 AM on June 22, 2012


Wtf, seriously just wtf. Notice how most of these are fruit-based? Your little ones are just sucking down sugar-sludge.

Of the ones I've looked at, even the vegetable ones are "Carrot, spinach, and apple", with apple being the first ingredient listed on the back.
posted by waterlily at 9:21 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


There already is

Wow. Is there a lot of demand for cheap whiskey in a tiny colostomy bag?
posted by gauche at 9:21 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think there are a couple of important points here.

1. These aren't particularly healthy; as the author of the second link points out, even beyond the question of which fruits and vegetables are actually in it, eating purees of fruits and vegetables isn't NEARLY as beneficial (for several reasons) as eating actual fruits and vegetables.

2. Haven't we always given kids some autonomy over when/where they eat? It's just we used to have plastic baggies filled with cheerios instead of expensive designer faux fruit.

I think these do a great job marketing themselves so as to assuage parental fears (it's healthy! It's fruit! There are vegetables! Your kids won't fight you about them!) and being exciting and sugary enough for kids to like them, but it seems like they play off the fact that even reasonably well-educated people have a poor sense of nutrition that basically extends to "fruit and vegetables=good".
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:21 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


There already is

Awesome, thanks. From the site:

"Now adults with an active lifestyle have a brand new way to enjoy their favorite hard liquor."
posted by colie at 9:21 AM on June 22, 2012


My 10-month-old daughter is still throwing cheerios around the dining room and covering herself in spaghetti sauce. I'll take solace in the notion that we're upholding the traditional American way of life.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:21 AM on June 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


The flask and cocktail kit fits neatly into most coat pockets. Be the movable feast you want to see in the world.
posted by The Whelk at 9:22 AM on June 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


Five years ago, when I spent a lot of time painstakingly feeding my first child baby food out of a jar, I would have thought "wow, this sounds really convenient."

Then, with our second child, I learned that babies are fully able to handle the same food we eat, as long as it's pretty soft, and don't need to subsist on pureed product. Now that is convenient.
posted by escabeche at 9:22 AM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


PhoBWanKenobi: "I know that string cheese just ruined me for regular cheese.

Wait, that didn't happen.

I think as long as this stuff is used for a snack, and not as a meal replacement, it beats the froot by the foot, teddy grahams, and dunkaroos of my generation.

I still love me some string cheese.
"

Fried Cheese Curds man. Fried. Cheese. Curds.
posted by symbioid at 9:22 AM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


There must and shall be booze in this format.

There's also this.
posted by CheeseLouise at 9:22 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


There must and shall be booze in this format.

There are freezeable cocktail pouches that I've noticed in the supermarket lately. I imagine they're malt-based, else they'd have to sell them in the liquor store here, but I've been meaning to try one. It would probably make a good shower "beer."
posted by uncleozzy at 9:23 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


This reminds me of my junior year in high school when, for some reason, the school cafeteria did away with the little tiny milk cartons and introduced milk pouches. They were just clear plastic sacks of milk, sort of a cross between a breast implant and a capri sun.

Despite being part of the Capri Sun Generation, effectively puncturing these things with a straw didn't come naturally, and for the first few days that they were served, a lot of us were outright puzzled by them.

I started dating my wife that year, and one of the first jokes I ever made to her was when we were sitting there at lunch and she was looking at one of the milk pouches with a perplexed expression, and I handed her a spoon and said, "Here, this should help."

So, she looked at me like I was really stupid, and to this day she doesn't get the joke, but she started going out with me anyway, so I guess it all works out in the end.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:23 AM on June 22, 2012 [18 favorites]


I wonder what a billion empty food pouches looks like.
posted by stbalbach at 9:24 AM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


The flask and cocktail kit fits neatly into most coat pockets.

Tell me how I can get this past the TSA and you've just made yourself a sale!
posted by backseatpilot at 9:24 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are freezeable cocktail pouches that I've noticed in the supermarket lately. I imagine they're malt-based, else they'd have to sell them in the liquor store here, but I've been meaning to try one. It would probably make a good shower "beer."

I've seen wine based ones and they're really great for picnics on a hot day.
posted by astapasta24 at 9:24 AM on June 22, 2012


The neoteny angle is interesting, as there's some thinking that neoteny - with a long period of unproductive childhood, numerous infant characteristics carried through as important into adulthood, the continued progeny dependence for most of life - is one of the things that lies behind our intelligence and social sophistication. Humans are certainly exceptionally neotenous.

I like this thinking, which has as its counterpoint that adulthood is more problematic, and less of it would be a good and progressive thing.
posted by Devonian at 9:24 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Actually, aren't these pouches a bit old-style now? The 'gels' that runners are very into now must be the latest booze delivery format.
posted by colie at 9:24 AM on June 22, 2012


So like most NYT Shock Horror Probe stories, it's a total Not A Thing being done by a small minority of insufferable fits blown out of proportion in order to sell your anxiety back to you.

Or a specific product - this reads like a thinly disguised ad.
posted by ryanshepard at 9:25 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder what a billion empty food pouches looks like.



Post apocalyptic day care.
posted by The Whelk at 9:25 AM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Times is turning into my main source for following Mommy Moral Panics.
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:26 AM on June 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


I wonder what a billion empty food pouches looks like.

Probably not much different than a billion assorted food containers that aren't pouches.
posted by 2N2222 at 9:27 AM on June 22, 2012


Or you can tell them it's astronaut food. That could have been a great marketing angle in the 60s and 70s.

Yes, it was!
posted by TedW at 9:27 AM on June 22, 2012


The 'gels' that runners are very into now must be the latest booze delivery format.

As a runner let me tell you that goo/gels are not at all enjoyable. They certainly get the job done but the consistency of the "paste" is disgusting, at least to me. I prefer replenishing my electrolytes with Jelly Beans.
posted by Fizz at 9:27 AM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


In any case - wasn't this stuff once called 'soup'?
posted by Devonian at 9:28 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


As a runner let me tell you that goo/gels are not at all enjoyable.

Thanks for the tip, I was tempted to get into running because gels looked so good. I can't be the only guy in that demographic. I'll just wait for booze goo.
posted by colie at 9:30 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Reading further in the NY Times article:
He’s decidedly mixed about it. On the plus side, he said, the pouch promotes nutrition and gives children choice, moving us away from “a generation of a certain kind of discipline and of a clean-your-plate attitude” that was less flexible in its ideas about child-rearing and life.

But “it’s going to create a lot of self-absorbed kids,” he said.

It also eliminates structure around eating, which he doesn’t like: “At age 3, it’s a packet of vegetables,” he said. “At age 13, it’s the chips or candy bar they think they deserve.”

Dr. Wansink and his wife have three children under the age of 6, and he advocates keeping children at the table and power struggles at bay by “taking the attention off the food.” At night, each member of his family answers four questions: What was the high point of the day? What was the low point? Whom did he or she most appreciate? And what direction is your compass pointing tomorrow?

“It takes tremendous resolve by parents to say, ‘Mealtime is mealtime,’ ” he added. Even if meals are not always shared with Dad, as is often the case in Dr. Wansink’s family, because he travels a lot for work.
Ugh, this is really ridiculous. The fact that these are food products marketed specifically toward busy, working parents--and the fact that it's being pun in a FOOD POUCHES WILL RUIN YOUR KIDS AND MAKE THEM SELFISH ANIMALS strikes me as, deep down, a bit sexist. Get back in the kitchen, working two-income mom, make your kids home cooked meals, even if dad's not there because he's busy.

I think those are all good things, if a family can afford to do it, but the guilt strikes me as really offensive. Maybe it's because I'm part of the last breath of the latch key generation. Fifth grade my mom worked nights and I taught myself to microwave ramen. Was it the healthiest, best thing for me? Nope. But I haven't turned into some whining, horrific ramen-monster who has no table manners or ability to make small talk.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:30 AM on June 22, 2012 [33 favorites]


Creating Mommy Moral Panics isn't even the easy setting, it's a tutorial. The way the media talks to parents in this country I'm sure you could whip them into a blind screaming panic over using certain colors in the nursery, certain shades where " bad for development" while other shades where " engaging" and " success oriented" but they changed every so often so you couldn't use old ones nor coud you paint them yourself cause the colors had to be " scientifically accurate" and hey wait now I have an idea for a business.
posted by The Whelk at 9:30 AM on June 22, 2012 [16 favorites]


Being spun, rather.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:31 AM on June 22, 2012


clear plastic sacks of milk, sort of a cross between a breast implant and a capri sun

That is beautiful. We had the plastic milk bags in 1st grade. I remember once punching the straw all the way through the other side and staring at it like, well, what now?
posted by Flannery Culp at 9:32 AM on June 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Do any of these complainers have any idea how hard it is to pack a spoon, keep up with it in the bottom of a diaper bag, and keep it clean at a playground? Have any of these folks ever had to clean the backseat of their car after a toddler has tried to eat a plastic snack-sized tub of yogurt or apple sauce while on a long car trip?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:33 AM on June 22, 2012 [13 favorites]


Dr. Wansink and his wife have three children under the age of 6, and he advocates keeping children at the table and power struggles at bay by “taking the attention off the food.” At night, each member of his family answers four questions: What was the high point of the day? What was the low point? Whom did he or she most appreciate? And what direction is your compass pointing tomorrow?

posted by The Whelk at 9:35 AM on June 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


The pouches have little plastic spouts at the top from which a mix of organic fruits, veggies and grains (about 100 calories’ worth) can be sucked.

OK...that's a pretty convenient packaging design, I suppose...

My almost 11 year old daughter squeezes one into her mouth for snack at least twice a week.

OK, that's just disgusting! Baby food is for babies!
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:35 AM on June 22, 2012


I wonder what a billion empty food pouches looks like.

Most of them are recyclable, just like juice boxes and the little tubs of apple sauce and yogurt they're replacing.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:36 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tell me how I can get this past the TSA and you've just made yourself a sale!

It's a simple answer, but it may impact how comfortable it is to sit in your seat for the next eight hours...

Haven't we always given kids some autonomy over when/where they eat?

No. Giving kids all this choice and say in their eating is very much a modern phenomenon. Or rather, I'm sure it has happened before, because there have been a lot of societies with a lot of child rearing practices throughout history. But it is not something one would have seen much of in the US and Europe over the past few hundred years, and is not something I have seen traveling in the developing world.

I'm not at all saying that giving kids choices is a bad thing -- I think the moral panic over this is misplaced. But it definitely is new and different.
posted by Forktine at 9:36 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am a little puzzled by the cultural trend of snacks on demand for kids. Would I have been a happier and more successful child if I had been able to have a handful of trail mix every hour or so, as many of the little kids I know are? I definitely grew up in an "eat at meals and have a small snack after school so you aren't a howling anger-beast by dinner" culture, although we certainly had plenty of issues around food. There was no "how do you pack suitable nutritious snacks for your 5-year-old?" because we didn't snack on the go. If we were at the museum and we were hungry, we waited until it was meal time - that was a behavior expectation. In fact, I don't remember noticing being hungry when I was a kid. The first time I really remember being uncomfortably hungry was in junior high when I had a late lunch schedule and would definitely be peckish about 15 minutes before my end-of-the-morning class.

Was I a weird kid? Are kids generally noticing that they are hungry between meals? Is this an improvement, a non-improvement or just one of those cultural shifts like how no one wears hats anymore except to keep the weather off?
posted by Frowner at 9:37 AM on June 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


Who says these are "on demand"? Kids get hungry between meals. To keep them from freaking out when they get low blood sugar you give them a snack. These pouches offer healtier options than the bags of chips my 1970s parents gave my brother and me.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:39 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Do any of these complainers have any idea how hard it is to pack a spoon, keep up with it in the bottom of a diaper bag, and keep it clean at a playground? Have any of these folks ever had to clean the backseat of their car after a toddler has tried to eat a plastic snack-sized tub of yogurt or apple sauce while on a long car trip?

Seriously! The pouches are a godsend. Easily portable way to feed child while Mom and Dad get a rare dinner out? With the added benefit that it keeps them occupied for a little while?

Our only problem with the pouches is that the caps look entirely too much like toys. We have to hide them from the two year old the moment they come off.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:40 AM on June 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


On a general basis, I think having kids eat small amounts throughout the day and then having a lighter meal at home is considerably better than having them get used to eating enormous meals to counteract the fact that they haven't eaten between noon and five. Because the "eat an enormous meal" behavior never goes away even when the "I'm an adult and can snack whenever the hell I want and do" behavior kicks in.
posted by griphus at 9:40 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't remember noticing being hungry when I was a kid.

Yes, because kids are not as in tune with their body functions as adults. That's why you have to remind them to go potty or take a bath.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:41 AM on June 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


Something you saw a couple times does not equate to a trend.
posted by odinsdream at 9:43 AM on June 22, 2012


Once an accident, twice a coincidence, three times a New York Times lifestyle piece.
posted by griphus at 9:45 AM on June 22, 2012 [20 favorites]


Who says these are "on demand"? Kids get hungry between meals. To keep them from freaking out when they get low blood sugar you give them a snack. These pouches offer healtier options than the bags of chips my 1970s parents gave my brother and me.

We didn't get bags of chips in the eighties! (Maybe I just had a weird childhood.) Our food budget was pretty darn tight (hence some of the food issues) but I don't think we would have bought fruit leather and goldfish crackers and so on even if we'd had money. Snacks were vegetables, fruit, maybe cheese. (I add that we are not a thin family - I don't want this to be read as "ooh, we controlled our portions and we are all model-slim unlike people who slackly ate oreos".)

Also, the whole idea of "low blood sugar" - that was not a thing. It was framed as "[person] gets cranky when they are hungry but should not act cranky just because they have to wait 30 minutes for dinner". (This was said about my father too; it wasn't a kid thing.)

My mother did work outside the home; we learned to pack our own lunches (one carrot's worth of carrot sticks; one small and rather sour apple; one sandwich of a slice of lunch meat and some bits of cheese; one Duncan Hines cookie) pretty young. As a result, the occasional cafeteria pizza was a big treat, which may account for my fondness for certain types of junk food even as an adult.
posted by Frowner at 9:47 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I do think there's a shift in thinking about behavior from when I grew up - from a character-based model ("don't act cranky just because you're hungry; it is your job to control your affect") to a biological model ("you are cranky because you are hungry; we treat the crankiness with food so that you can behave well"). I think this is related to a larger shift in beliefs about human behavior and medical models and could probably generate a pretty good dissertation.
posted by Frowner at 9:50 AM on June 22, 2012 [13 favorites]


The 10th Regiment of Foot: "I wonder what a billion empty food pouches looks like.

Most of them are recyclable, just like juice boxes and the little tubs of apple sauce and yogurt they're replacing.
"

I wonder what a billion individual serving juice boxes and yogurt containers looks like.
posted by stbalbach at 9:51 AM on June 22, 2012


Two kids under five, I've never heard of these things. So it's like Capri Sun juices, except for food?
posted by resurrexit at 9:53 AM on June 22, 2012


We don't treat "crankyness" with food. We treat hungry cranky with food. We treat tired cranky with a nap. We treat dirty diaper cranky with a change. We treat hot cranky with taking off the sweater and cold cranky with putting on the sweater.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:54 AM on June 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


We use these occasionally for our one-year old, if we have to be out somewhere. You just squeeze it into his mouth. They're too expensive to use regularly, and I do wish they made less sugary ones.

Although the convenience angle suffers somewhat if you let the baby hold it. With a single squeeze, the entire contents will be launched, exorcist-like, across you, him, his Christmas outfit, and his grandparents' dining room.
posted by condour75 at 9:55 AM on June 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


And Mommy and Daddy cranky with booze and a good schtup once the little one is asleep.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:55 AM on June 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


Once an accident, twice a coincidence, three times a New York Times lifestyle piece.

AKA counting via the reporter method: one, two, trend.
posted by clockzero at 9:56 AM on June 22, 2012


A billion disposable whatevers.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:56 AM on June 22, 2012


My daughter went through a phase of *loving* these a couple of years ago. Drove me batty that there were only fruit-based ones (at least all the places that I looked). When in Australia, I saw pouches of every vegetable and vege mix (no fruit in there) that I could imagine.

At least that phase is over now. Now my three year old is bankrupting me with her sushi habit.
posted by gaspode at 9:59 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


It was framed as "[person] gets cranky when they are hungry but should not act cranky just because they have to wait 30 minutes for dinner".

Yeah, our family was the same way and I was 23 before I realized that I could control hunger-based-cranky-feelings with something other than Skittles (which is how I learned to do it in high school).

In other words, I don't think it's a bad thing to teach children that they can healthily snack between meals. It would've saved me a lot of post-teen angst.
posted by muddgirl at 9:59 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


At night, each member of his family answers four questions: What was the high point of the day? What was the low point? Whom did he or she most appreciate? And what direction is your compass pointing tomorrow?

What is your favorite word?
What is your least favorite word?
What turns you on?
What turns you off?
What sound or noise do you love?
What sound or noise do you hate?
What is your favorite curse word?
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
What profession would you not like to do?
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
posted by amarynth at 10:00 AM on June 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


(Because sometimes dinner isn't 30 minutes away - sometimes practice runs late (in high school) or I'm working on a deadline (in college and post-college) and dinner is hours and hours away and either I bitch someone out or I faint.
posted by muddgirl at 10:02 AM on June 22, 2012


It's not like food pouches can't be eaten at family mealtime. Jeez. Our son pretty much subsists on a tiny rotation of the few foods he is willing to eat, and believe me, we have tried cajoling, modeling good eating habits, trying to force just one bite in.... there is nothing that is going to make our kid eat half the foods we eat for dinner (and our dinners have become as toddler friendly as possible while still maintaining some parental sanity of "we like to eat food with flavor"). Sometimes we give our son a squeezie of applesauce, or heaven forfend, a fruit & veggie blend pouch, which he consumes while we sit around the dinner table eating together. Ok, we watch The Daily Show and Colbert at dinner time... he does a very cute dance to the Colbert theme. I'm trying to take the long view on food and not freak out about him getting a perfect balance of multi-colored veggies, perfectly calibrated fats and proteins, and whatnot, because that way lies madness and despair. We have a meal time, we offer everything we're eating, we eat our veggies every day, I figure that's the best we can do right now. It sometimes feels like damned if you do, damned if you don't- at least the kids who will eat those veggie & fruit pouches are eating some veggies. Our son takes one drag on a spinach/apple/rutabaga pouch and knows it's a pouch of lies, not a pouch of delicious applesauce.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 10:03 AM on June 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


"I don't care if it takes all night, you are just going to sit there until you finish your goo."
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:03 AM on June 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


MeFite srboisvert nailed it two years ago: "NY Times trend pieces are the knock knock jokes of journalism."
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 10:05 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can vouch that Pocket Shots are much better adult pinata filler than the traditional mini bottles.
posted by vespabelle at 10:06 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


First, it starts with Gogurt...
posted by Burhanistan at 10:10 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


We are only preparing our children for the day when we all end up living on NASA sponsored space colony. Think ahead people!
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:11 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Everyone I know who buys these uses them for snacks on the go or has a child who's seriously picky or is under doctor's orders with respect to increasing food intake. (My friend's toddler almost lived on these for four months after her parents had a very premature baby and were in the NICU a lot and she was stressed and upset and just started refusing to eat. Except for those fruit pouches. So, that's what she ate. And eventually she settled down and started eating people food again, and then her parents would say, "Do you want to try some squash? Like in your favorite fruit vegetable pouch?" and she'd try it and now she eats a lot more stuff.) Sometimes you just want to stave off scurvy and the only thing they're willing to eat is dry toast.

We don't buy them (they are expensive!) but I don't see the harm, and they are more convenient than a spoon and a plastic tub of applesauce or whatever, and definitely good for in-the-car. You know what I do love, though? Yogurt melts, which are like little freeze-dried astronaut yogurt drops the size of an almond, for finger-food babies. Makes a change from Cheerios. Also, freeze-dried astronaut yogurt!

"Are kids generally noticing that they are hungry between meals? Is this an improvement, a non-improvement or just one of those cultural shifts like how no one wears hats anymore except to keep the weather off?"

Doctors mostly tell you that your toddler should be having three meals and two snacks, and your young school-aged child should be having three meals and at least one snack. It's the same amount of calories as the old "three meals only" but spread out over more eating occasions. Especially if your kids eat a lot of whole fruits and vegetables (with bulky bulky fiber!) and only whole grains, they may not get as many calories as necessary at three meals because their tiny stomachs fill up (and then they digest faster and then they're hungry again faster, which is also why you feed newborns 8-12 times a day). Every kid's different; my older child has given up morning snacks well before most of his friends, even though I think we start the day pretty early. (Although he will happily eat them if they're on offer!)

Anyway, it's not really inconsistent with Official Meals. In our house, Official Afternoon Snack occurs at a basically set time (when we're at home) with various healthy foods in the Official Meal Place and we eat it and then we go do other things. Just like lunch. We still have Sit-Down-Dinner even though they have snacks.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:14 AM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


The concerns seem pretty contrived. I think some people are overthinking a plate pouch of beans.
posted by mullingitover at 10:15 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yuck. These actually exist? I have never seen or heard of these before. Maybe it is an American thing?
posted by fimbulvetr at 10:15 AM on June 22, 2012


There may be more to it than that, but fruit puree in a soft pack hardly seems worth the outrage. Would the outrage exist if this was in a little plastic cup? Or if it were scooped out of a large glass container?

I try very hard - as you must as both parent and sentient being nowadays - to avoid outrage or anxiety from the twin demons of parenting scares and NY Times trend pieces. This one, though, blew my gaskets, mainly because Neil Grimmer, CEO of Plum Organics, seems to exist in a special category of vile amoral marketing gasbaggery that ought to be punishable by revoking one's social contract:
Mr. Grimmer believes the pouch’s popularity can be attributed to the emergence of a new way of relating to our children. He calls it “free-range parenting.”

Parents, he explained, want to be as flexible as modern life demands. And when it comes to eating, that means doing away with structured mealtimes in favor of a less structured alternative that happens not at set times, but whenever a child is hungry.

What Mr. Grimmer is selling, he said, is a way to facilitate that: mobile food technology for the modern family.

“It’s on-the-go snacking, on-the-go nourishment,” he said. “It moves with kids and puts the control in their hands. The Gerber generation was raised on the idea that baby food in a glass jar was the pinnacle of health. We’re challenging that notion.”
First, Mr. Grimmer doesn't know what the fuck he's talking about. When people use the term free-range parenting, they are referring to the polar opposite of pablum in nonbiodegradable pouches. They are referring to a heartfelt and increasingly difficult effort by some parents to carve out a social life for their children that isn't overrun with consumerism, playdates, and an overwrought executive assistant's idea of structure.

Second, there's got to be a three-strikes rule on the social contract. "On-the-go snacking" - marketing newspeak, unforgivable for an actual human being and not a commercial's voice-over to enunciate aloud. Strike one. "On-the-go nourishment" - two words, two lies. It's for a less active lifestyle with less nourishment in it. Strike two. "It moves with the kids and puts control in their hands" - so fundamentally misconstrues the way children develop that this guy should be trapped in a pit with sociopaths for the rest of his useless existence. Strike three.

Sorry, Mr. Grimmer, it's off to Slavering Psycho Island for you. Be sure to pack plenty of pouches for your new on-the-go lifestyle.

Jeeee-sus. Fucking Times trend pieces.
posted by gompa at 10:17 AM on June 22, 2012 [18 favorites]


Food pouches, pop tarts, hot pockets, granola bars, etc etc.

What a ridiculous article.
posted by iamabot at 10:22 AM on June 22, 2012


Reminds me of Wall-E, where all the humans drank all their meals. "I want a cupcake...in a cup!"
posted by xingcat at 10:25 AM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Everything about children makes me glad that I don't have them.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:26 AM on June 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


Imagine a child with a life lived well knocked. Bumps into walls. Trips over air. Tilts at mighty windmills, her lunchbag ablaze. Three styles of apple are in that lunch from morning to lunch. Which one survives the best?

The loose apple - bruised all to hell. If she doesn't eat it that day, she sure as heck won't want it browny the next day (I know about picky eaters but I consider this aversion mild and eating it myself instead of her preferable to not eating enough, which she will do, further detrimental her growth). If it is eaten, a silmy core might end up in the sandwich box (yay), trash can (double yay), or loose in the bag (ewwwwwwwwww).

The canned apple sauce - if she can pry it open or flag an adult down to do it, requires a spoon. Hope we packed a spoon. If it gets punctured whilst windmills are being tilt upon, slimy mess inside the bag before lunch begins. If it is not eaten or punctured, it can be re-served the next day. If it is consumed, the slimy cup and remains might end up in the sandwich box (yay), trash can (booo, no recycling), or loose in the bag (ewwwwww but recycled).

The pouch apple - she can open it herself. She can close it herself. She can bring it home for recycling - or not open it and eat it the next day. Much less likely to be punctured by Giant Windmill Wailing, no adult intervention needed.

And like the sugar cereal crap portrayed on television, it's served with other actual food, not served as the meal.

The main reason I like them (they are a standby in the summer for lunch supplements and hurricane supplies but have their main use in the school year) - I give the kids daily meds/vitamins/probiotics. It's much easier to pay a dollar for a pouch that will last me a week or two, squeezed onto a spoon daily, then to throw out a three-dollar jar of applesauce after ten days because it smells funny and we've only used 20 teaspoons worth.
posted by tilde at 10:27 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


For us these do fit a very specific niche, they are on-the-go snack foods. These things can sit in a hot car and not be mushy. They don't get dirty in the bottom of a diaper bag. The kids can eat them in a car seat or stroller without any additional utensil and hardly ever any mess. They have not replaced table foods at mealtimes. They have not replaced "hand fruit" or other healthy snacks given when at home or in a place where convenience is a major plus.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:28 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was all "meh" until this:

“I’ve got 20 minutes in the car with a hungry kid,” said Ms. Bushnell, a public relations consultant who lives in a rural town in Northern California and doesn’t have time to prepare an alternative.

Having spent many car pooling days with up to three kids in my car for almost an hour, all wanting a snack, I can feel her pain. In my case I found the power of speech to be beneficial.

"No - you'll have to wait till we get home"

How can a supposed high-powered exec not have the balls to lay down the law and be assertive with their own child? Twenty minutes? Jesus Fucking Christ call Family Services! She's starving her child! For TWENTY MINUTES! It doesn't take an Einstein to figure this out.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:28 AM on June 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


Oh yes, and they have a much longer shelf life than fruit or veggies on their own!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:28 AM on June 22, 2012


symbioid's link to the Neoteny wiki page has an informative, frightening graphic: Neoteny body proportion heterochrony for humans.

BEWARE GIANT MAN BABY! Chibi is only cute when small.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:29 AM on June 22, 2012


PhoBWanKenobi: "Fifth grade my mom worked nights and I taught myself to microwave ramen. Was it the healthiest, best thing for me? Nope. But I haven't turned into some whining, horrific ramen-monster who has no table manners or ability to make small talk."

To be fair, if your username is any indication, it does appear to have given you a lifelong affinity for salty Asian soups.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. Pho's f--ing rad, and I'd probably be craving some right now if it wasn't 18-million degrees outside. Also, I recently discovered a local restaurant that serves "fresh" ramen, which is ohmygodamazing.
posted by schmod at 10:29 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Everything about children makes me glad that I don't have them.

Yeah me too. Oh shit! Where'd I park?!?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:31 AM on June 22, 2012


These things are awesome. For one, they're one of the few things my picky toddler will reliably eat. Two, you don't need to keep track of the spoon. Three, easy snack when we're out at the playground all afternoon. And they're amazing for plane travel--no mess. (As long as you hold the pouch!)

Before the kid, I saw them and thought "So much waste, so expensive!" but I have to admit, they're great for our needs. We go through about 2-3 a week.
posted by Liesl at 10:32 AM on June 22, 2012


What happened to apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, raisins, carrots etc. for snacks on the go? That is what we usually use for our 2 and 5 year olds. Occasionally they get a granola bar or some fish crackers, but when I take them somewhere, it is usually a couple apples, little boxes of raisins and some water. No spoons or whatever needed. Hand the sprogs some apples and let 'em go at it.
posted by fimbulvetr at 10:33 AM on June 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


KevinSkomsvold: How can a supposed high-powered exec not have the balls to lay down the law and be assertive with their own child?

Have you met kids? The are terrible. They deploy sonic weaponry that are not heard in board rooms. A crying or screaming child cannot be reasoned with, only soothed, and you can't do that very well while driving. Of course, it's ideal to prevent the outrage in the first place, but sometimes that's not an option. Kids can go from content to pissed off at the world in no time flat. Assertiveness means nothing in this context.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:34 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I swear the first guy to start making and marketing Plumpy'Nut to the American consumer is going to be a billionaire.
posted by Bonzai at 10:36 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


We didn't get bags of chips in the eighties! (Maybe I just had a weird childhood.) Our food budget was pretty darn tight (hence some of the food issues) but I don't think we would have bought fruit leather and goldfish crackers and so on even if we'd had money.

I don't know about national snack consumption trends, but certainly within my family I can remember the transition from pretty much zero snacking when I was a kid in the late 1970s through about the mid-1980s, and then the phasing in of snacks after that. Some of that might have been financial, because that was the same time period as my parents went from broke to more or less middle class, but I'd bet that there was also help from new products, new packaging, and new cultural expectations.

Early experiences probably have an impact, though; I still almost never snack -- sometimes a few nuts mid-morning, and maybe something at about 5pm if it looks like dinner is going to be extra late that day. (I'm not opposed to snacking, and I don't think avoiding it is particularly healthy or unhealthy; I just tend to experience hunger as discrete events, rather than a semi-constant state of being solved by grazing, and I suspect that my childhood has influenced this.)
posted by Forktine at 10:36 AM on June 22, 2012


Well, conditioning towards food pouches will come in handy on the doomed colony expedition to save humanity after we render Earth uninhabitable... so that's a plus.
posted by nathancaswell at 10:39 AM on June 22, 2012


Well if you're outraged about this, you'll be apoplectic to learn that ADULTS sometimes put fresh and /or frozen fruits and vegetables in a BLENDER to turn them into a drinkable mush of a concoction creepily granted the positively Orwellian moniker "smoothie."

Sheesh. The packaging is of course a real environmental concern, and of course fresh fruit and vegetables would be better for kids than the blended packaged kind. But blended prepackaged organic fruit and veggies is better than a lot of the other things a lot of kids eat.

Neighbor kids from my street are always coming over to my house and claiming they're "thirsty" just so they can snag some actual fruit juice, which is like some sort of exotic ambrosia to children raised almost entirely on soda and Kool-Aid. (And before anyone tries to tell me that 100% juice is just as bad for kids as soda, please look up some of the more recent, post-juice-panic science.)

I am all for encouraging parents to feed their kids whole foods, but if you're a busy working parent of a toddler or preschooler, an occasional packaged fruit puree is a lot better than some of the other snack options you could turn to. If some people are feeding these pouches to older kids in place of most or all regular meals, that points toward larger social problems than can be solved by simply getting rid of fruit puree pouches.
posted by BlueJae at 10:39 AM on June 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


At night, each member of his family answers four questions: What was the high point of the day? What was the low point? Whom did he or she most appreciate? And what direction is your compass pointing tomorrow?

A tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun beating its legs trying to turn itself over but it can't, not without your help, but you're not helping. Why is that?

It's your birthday. Someone gives you a calfskin wallet.

You're watching television. Suddenly you realise there's a wasp crawling on your arm.

One more question. You're watching a stage play. A banquet is in progress. The guests are enjoying an appetizer of raw oysters. The entree consists of boiled dog.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:41 AM on June 22, 2012 [31 favorites]


What happened to apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, raisins, carrots etc. for snacks on the go?

Those things are all consumed, too! I guess I don't get the conflating using food pouches sometimes = kids are never eating any real foods EVAR. Every week we rotate through apples, mangos, bananas, grapes, raisins, clementines, pineapple, watermelon, strawberries, pears, peaches, dried berries, and carrots. It's just that sometimes it's fun to throw a squeezy pouch into the mix. It doesn't seem blasphemous to have a little fun with food, and the delivery method seems like a valid way of adding some sometimes-fun.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 10:41 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I grew up in a non-snacking household as well, and don't get snacking -- except maybe a small one at 11pm before bed. Other than that, 3 meals a day. I've discussed this with Mrs. Fimbulvetr and the necessity of hauling around snack food for the sprogs for short trips (really?!?!? They can't do without something for an hour?!?!), and lost.

However . . . . she is starting to notice that on days when they don't have snacks, they sit down and eat their meals very nicely . . . .

posted by fimbulvetr at 10:42 AM on June 22, 2012


I know it's all "Hurf durf food pouch eater" in here, but I will admit to giving these to my 15 month old. They got us through a rough period when she was younger when she decided that she hated having sticky hands and yet exclusively wanted to feed herself. She allowed no spoons near her face and would smash bits of fruit between her little fingers before throwing them to the floor. It was a blessing to have something that she would eat without complaint.

Currently, they are used in our household for emergency snacks on airplanes are for car trips. Unlike and apple or a bag of grapes they can sit in the trunk of your car or in your bag for weeks until you need one, which is sometimes when you don't expect it, like during epic traffic. There is even one in my backpack right now. I'm going to leave work early and take my daughter to an outdoor concert and if she gets a little hungry she'll have her choice between a fruit pouch and some cereal.

Despite being a fan of the pouch I really liked the second link, especially the part about rotating foods frequently. Our pediatrician called fruit pouches junk food at my daughter's 12 month appointment, and despite my initial feelings of "Buh, buh...it's fruuuuuuit! We neeeed them!" I stopped giving them out as a part of a meal. Like most junk food they're fine in small amounts and on special occasions. They're an additional tool in the modern parenting toolbox and it's nice to have the right tool for the right occasion.
posted by Alison at 10:42 AM on June 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


filthy light thief: "KevinSkomsvold: How can a supposed high-powered exec not have the balls to lay down the law and be assertive with their own child?

Have you met kids? Assertiveness means nothing in this context.
"

Yes. I even have one of my own in addition to being on school car-pool duties for three years (see my previous comment). It's not so much about assertiveness as much as it is about boundaries. If a parent cannot deal with a whining child for 20 minutes, I would question their effectiveness in other areas of parenting. Somehow slapping a pouch of gruel in a kids hand just to shut them up seems counter-productive.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:43 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


We got the milk pouches in 3rd or 4th grade, IIRC, and got the hang of them pretty quickly. The trick was:
1. Cover straw with thumb.
2. Insert swiftly.
3. Aim straw.
4. Remove thumb.
5. Squeeze.

Funny how our district's experiment with milk-in-a-pouch only lasted for a year.
posted by drlith at 10:44 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I ate apple sauce as a child. Store-bought and homemade. My daughter also eats applesauce. Sometimes, from a pouch. It can be particularly convenient when we are at a park, visiting someone's home, or driving somewhere. My 13-month old really likes to feed herself, she hates being fed baby food. Sometimes, we give her a pouch of baby food. She enjoys the independence of holding it. Now that she is mostly eating the same food as us, she going through fewer pouches.

How is any of this wrong? How are we being insufferable? I'm sick of being judged for every little parenting decision and I'm also sick of hearing how other parents from some earlier generation did a much better job of everything. Everyone is so darn satisfied with their own parenting and so judgmental of the younger parents, but every generation seems pretty screwed up to me. I can remember my childhood; it wasn't perfect and the things that were better didn't stem from our lack of pouches.
posted by Area Man at 10:45 AM on June 22, 2012 [18 favorites]


Food pouches tend to be twice the price of baby food that comes in regular containers, so this "trend" really only applies, I think, to parents with more money than time.

We have a budget product for families who are mindful about costs: we call it soda pop.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:45 AM on June 22, 2012


By the way -- toddlers do in fact have an actual biological need to eat snacks between meals, if they are going to get enough calories to thrive. Their stomachs are the size of their fists. Toddlers need 1,000 - 1,400 calories per day, and they can't physically eat an adult-sized meal. I see a lot of people here decrying the idea of snacks for small children and I think that those people must not actually have or care for children under the age of 5.
posted by BlueJae at 10:46 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, kids are typically always eating. The trick is to watch what they're eating - no processed foods or crackers (bad for their teeth), but fruit and dairy is the way to go.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:48 AM on June 22, 2012


Oh, for clarification I was calling the people complaining about the pouches insufferable. Veggie paste sounds way nicer then I crap I was given growing up.
posted by The Whelk at 10:49 AM on June 22, 2012


Food pouches tend to be twice the price of baby food that comes in regular containers, so this "trend" really only applies, I think, to parents with more money than time.

So you can buy two apples that get bruised and mushy while sitting in the car or in your carry-on bag or one pouch. Doesn't sound like that much of a financial trade-off.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:53 AM on June 22, 2012


Enter Neil Grimmer, who wants to smooth out an age-old family power dynamic by empowering children.


Oh, honey. If there's one thing modern American parenting methods have taught me, it's that children don't need more empowering in the parent-child relationship.
posted by magstheaxe at 11:01 AM on June 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


Tell me how I can get this past the TSA and you've just made yourself a sale!
I just put it in my carry-on.

I've had them; they're basically just smoothies. My kid didn't have teeth until 12 months, so she needed her carrots, apples, etc. in squishy form. Now that she has teeth, she'll only eat them when they're frozen into tiny fish-shaped ice cube trays.

I have no doubt that there are small children who can go for 4 hours without eating, just as there are babies who sleep 12 hours a night at three months. That's great, but how about we just trust that parents whose kids are different are just meeting the needs of the babies they have?

They're just snacks. Healthier than some, less healthy than others. Sometimes I order myself dessert, and sometimes I give my toddler sweet fruity goodness. I love food and enjoy eating it; I see no reason why my baby shouldn't. Now, at 15 months, she'll happily eat anything from arugula to zucchini (except bananas, which everyone in the family hates).
posted by snickerdoodle at 11:02 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I had the same initial thought as many others, apparently, which is that these pouches and the proclaimed need for them are pretty much the opposite of free range parenting/free range kids.
posted by asnider at 11:09 AM on June 22, 2012


And when it comes to eating, that means doing away with structured mealtimes in favor of a less structured alternative that happens not at set times, but whenever a child is hungry."

It's my understanding that in developed nations this behavior correlates closely to rates of obesity, type II diabetes and congestive heart disease. So basically you've taken the practice of "spoiling" your kid from the figurative to the literal. Nice going.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:10 AM on June 22, 2012


As an aside, I wonder what we're thinking of when we're talking about "young kids". I have a theory that the first year or so of parenting is so tiring that people just forget about them when they look back. So when my mother-in-law says my husband was doing xyz as a baby, what she really meant was "at 2 years old," and therefore her expectations of my baby's behavior are skewed. It's pretty clear to me that some of the concerns expressed in this thread are relevant for pre-schoolers or even kindergarteners, but pretty silly when applied to toddlers.
posted by snickerdoodle at 11:14 AM on June 22, 2012 [11 favorites]


It's my understanding that in developed nations this behavior correlates closely to rates of obesity, type II diabetes and congestive heart disease. So basically you've taken the practice of "spoiling" your kid from the figurative to the literal. Nice going.

Although I was just reading about how pre-agricultural societies tend to browse a lot - the example given was how people might eat simply pounds and pounds of greens every day by picking and eating as they went. And of course, our pre-industrial/pre-agricultural forebearers enjoyed pretty good health in terms of bone density, tooth health, height, skin and all that - not to disparage the whole germ-theory/cancer treatment/emergency surgery aspect of modern life at all. In theory, we could create a way of browsing-eating that harked back to pre-agriculture, right? If only I led a life where I could browse a couple of pounds of greens every day, I bet I'd be in flawless health.
posted by Frowner at 11:15 AM on June 22, 2012


Have you met kids? They are terrible. They deploy sonic weaponry that are not heard in board rooms.

For some reason around when I turned 30, all of the crying/screaming that kids do stopped bothering me. Mostly I just chuckle to myself think, "Ha, you think you've got big problems now? Just wait until you're older." I know that we're supposed to be hard-wired to respond to a baby's cry but it's like that switch in my brain has been turned off.

My brother-in-law's son would bawl for hours and hours for no good reason when he was a baby. He'd dry harder and longer when someone else was watching him and neither of his parents were around it never bothered me when it was my turn to babysit provided that I was reasonably sure that the crying wasn't from some cause that I could fix (dirty diaper, fever, etc).

I don't know if that immunity to baby crying induced stress will stay with me once the Mrs. and I have a baby of our own but I think/hope it will.
posted by VTX at 11:22 AM on June 22, 2012


A lot of the people with "concerns" seem to be strangely fixated on the idea that if a parent is giving a child these pouches, that is ALL they are giving them. Such a leap!

My daughter eats nearly any food put in front of her, is more adept with utensils than many her age (almost 2), has the concept of "chew" down as pat as a toddler is going to have, regularly sees (and consumes) food in its most natural, whole state...and generally has one of these pouches each day. She eats the savoury ones in addition to the all-fruit ones. She's only just started to not like the varieties with spinach, as her tastebuds develop (she prefers her spinach warm and chopped).

She's been eating from them since she was close to a year and her interest in food was nearly sidetracked by her insistence upon self-determination. Enter the squeezable produce product. Being able to put the food in her mouth herself was so huge, so immense, she was willing to agree to all kinds of other foods as long as this was an option. A bargain at half the price.

If the parents are still presenting good role-modeling of food habits, the pouch foods are just part of the overall feeding options that can keep a family and the little one in particular on a smooth and happy track. Being able to have one of these in her bag whenever we're out and about has saved my hide (and nerves) more than once, and so much more safely and conveniently than a jar of baby food would have.

I'm sure there'll be a time when she'll grow out of them...or maybe there'll always be a variety that fits with her food needs and whatever we've got going on. Either way, most parents who use the pouches balance them with sensible food and eating habits, and we're happily in that camp.

Interestingly to me, a LOT of health-promoting parents I know serve their kids smoothies at least once a day, often more. There is almost no difference between a smoothie and these pouches, aside from the pouch offering better portion control, portability, and (frequently) less sugar. Have I simply missed the smoothie-panic articles, the "we're all doomed to drinking our food!" opinion pieces?
posted by batmonkey at 11:23 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Frowner, interesting point. But in hunter-gatherer societies, high energy-density foods like fats and sugars are extremely hard to get; you pretty much have to be eating all the time. Game is almost always extremely lean, even when you have it, and simple sugars are rare except in a few seasonal fruits.

Drop someone from that society into ours and they'd become obese and diabetic. This is not a hypothetical; you only have to look at the health problems of, say, the Tohono O'odham people of the Southwestern U.S. to see it. Historically a wiry, highly athletic people, they now have terrible rates of obesity and type II diabetes, because the sugars and fats that they are physically adapted to crave precisely because of their scarcity are now only too plentiful.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:25 AM on June 22, 2012


I actually eat these myself. I threw a bunch in my soccer bag and when I have a game after work, or a couple games in a row, I have a snack there already. I have also tried carrying a banana/apple/etc in my bag, but this was remarkably unsuccessful.

I also tried putting a pile of them at the door so I could grab one for breakfast on my way out, but haven't really got into the habit of doing so. (Normally I just don't eat breakfast, and I understand that's not good for me).
posted by jacalata at 11:34 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was excited when I saw these a few months back because I thought they'd be good portable food for bike rides. Then I tried one, and they taste like baby food. Actually, most of them taste pretty much like applesauce--even the ones that don't purport to contain apple!--but to me applesauce = baby food, so the end result is the same.
posted by rhiannonstone at 11:34 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I swear the first guy to start making and marketing Plumpy'Nut to the American consumer is going to be a billionaire.

Peanut Butter = banned in many schools and daycamps. Our schools allow it, camps are 60/40.
posted by tilde at 11:37 AM on June 22, 2012


Dr. Wansink and his wife have three children under the age of 6, and he advocates keeping children at the table and power struggles at bay by “taking the attention off the food.” At night, each member of his family answers four questions: What was the high point of the day? What was the low point? Whom did he or she most appreciate? And what direction is your compass pointing tomorrow?

“It takes tremendous resolve by parents to say, ‘Mealtime is mealtime,’ ” he added. Even if meals are not always shared with Dad, as is often the case in Dr. Wansink’s family, because he travels a lot for work.


If I were six years old, and my dad was rarely home, and he came home and forced us to answer these questions, I'd want to leave the table as soon as humanly possible. Then again, I have to say it's better than not asking those questions at all.

I grew up in an immigrant family in the late eighties. We ate a lot of whole grains and vegetables because they were cheap and part of our cultural heritage. Every meal was a sit down meal. We had the occasional juice box and handi-snack, but most of our snacks were whole fruits, peanuts and dried seaweed. And yet, my dad traveled a lot and was kind of a stranger in our home. He always was a little off in terms of the family news; asking me about friends and classmates I hadn't seen in five years, not realizing that I had aged out of certain hobbies, that sort of thing. My mom was perpetually stressed out because my brother and I were both picky eaters. Sit down meals only got more awkward and quiet as we got older, and we didn't even have food pouches to blame. Maybe asking those four questions would have helped; I don't know. I didn't start enjoying sit-down meals with my family until we were all adults and were able to treat each other as such. I wouldn't blame the collapse of the art (if you could call it that) of the evening meal on modern food habits and technologies. Seems like it's more of the same old problem of struggling to balance family life with work.
posted by rhythm and booze at 11:39 AM on June 22, 2012


Pro tip: hungry kids will eat anything.
posted by unSane at 11:40 AM on June 22, 2012


Also -- I have three kids, my friends all have AT LEAST three kids, we're freakin' surrounded by kids, and I have never even heard of these things. Two hours north of Toronto but it's not THAT freakin' far from the border.
posted by unSane at 11:42 AM on June 22, 2012


Pro tip: hungry kids will eat anything.

You have clearly not met my kids. My children are way more likely to sit and eat what is served when they come to the table without struggle and crabbiness. If they have skipped a snack or a nap a couple hours before dinner time good luck getting them to sit and eat tried and true things they love much less try something new! If they've had a regular, scheduled day with small snacks in the long stretches between meals they are like a chorus of angels!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:45 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Protip! All kids are different and what works for some may not work for others.
posted by gaspode at 11:46 AM on June 22, 2012 [16 favorites]


eating purees of fruits and vegetables isn't NEARLY as beneficial (for several reasons) as eating actual fruits and vegetables.

I call bullshit, or explain what you mean, other than by cooking raw food you lose some nutrition. That applies to all food, not pouches, and see below for one claim that pouches are more nutritious than jars.

There is no difference between eating spinach raw and eating it blended. In fact, it's better to eat it blended because your stomach can digest it much more easily.

This "pouch" issue is a non-issue, unless of course you also object to baby food in glass jars and/or people older than babies or toddlers eating such food. It is perfectly healthy and just as ecological as jarred baby food.

THERE IS NOTHING NEW HERE.

Some of you have asked about how we chose our HAPPYBABY and HAPPYTOT pouch packaging and whether it can be recycled.

We chose to use our pouches first and foremost because of their safety and nutritional benefits. Our pouches are BPA and phthalate free. These sealed pouches also allow us to naturally preserve all of our 1: starting solids, 2: simple combos, 3: balanced meals, and 4:organic superfoods for tots & tykes organic purees without additives. And our pouch packaging allows us to cook all of our baby food at a lower temperature than jarred baby food—giving them not only great flavor, but a significantly higher level of nutrition.

While our pouch material isn’t currently recyclable, many cities do accept the #2 plastics we use for our re-sealable caps. And we’re proud to say that our pouches have a better overall environmental rating than glass jar alternatives. An independent Life Cycle analysis revealed that the pouches take less energy and fewer materials to make and produce less air pollution than glass, tetra pak or PET plastic bottles.


Ingredients: organic pear, organic green beans, organic peas, Salba (chia seed), organic lemon juice concentrate, ascorbic acid (vitamin C).

Dial it back, folks. There are enough ways of telling me that I am parenting wrong without this one.

FWIW, HappyTots is the best, IMO. Diapers.com sells the big ones for $1.62 per. I cook most of our baby's food, but I buy those and Earth's Best Organic (usu. about $1.69/jar) for supplemental (my 10 m.o. eats like a teenager) food and for spur of the moment outings, etc.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:48 AM on June 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


A lot of the people with "concerns" seem to be strangely fixated on the idea that if a parent is giving a child these pouches, that is ALL they are giving them. Such a leap!

To be fair, the article kind of implies that that's what's happening.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:49 AM on June 22, 2012


There is almost no difference between a smoothie and these pouches

If you are serving raw fruit and vegetables in your smoothie, there is no difference than drinking a smoothie and eating the raw fruit and vegetables.

Is anyone really going to claim that?
posted by mrgrimm at 11:49 AM on June 22, 2012


Pro tip: hungry kids will eat anything.

I know a kid who has to be fed via a feeding tube every night because he will not consume enough calories during the day to survive. He's an otherwise bright, energetic kid, but while he will put food in his mouth, he will not swallow it, and if you make him, he'll throw up.
posted by snickerdoodle at 11:50 AM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


A lot of the people with "concerns" seem to be strangely fixated on the idea that if a parent is giving a child these pouches, that is ALL they are giving them. Such a leap!

To be fair, the article kind of implies that that's what's happening.


Folks, I see kids 2 and 3 years old eating Dorito's and drinking Coke. Any outrage at pouches of organic food seems EXTREMELY misplaced.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:51 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


However, puree pouches won’t teach your children to eat fruits and vegetables

neither will baby jars. But until they get teeth and the wherewithal to chew fibrous material ...
posted by mrgrimm at 11:52 AM on June 22, 2012


OMG. This stuff is baby food. Yes, tossing a raw carrot at my baby would provide more nutrition and fiber, but it would also kill him.

When my baby got really good at putting food in his mouth at around seven months, he decided he was done with the spoon. No spoon, no how. Unfortunately, he was not good enough at chewing and swallowing to get all of his nutrition that way. Enter the pouch. He could feed himself (yay!) and get a full serving of organic fruits and veggies (yay!!). Now that he's a great eater, we almost never give him a pouch, except for when we're "on the go." By the way, we took 4 on the plane in a ziploc and the TSA didn't care.

The only downside, besides price and packaging, is the high fruit content. Ella's makes a couple just veggie-and-protein pouches but they're weirdly spiced, and baby didn't like them. I was about to invest in some reusable pouches to fill with just veggies when he decided he liked finger food better anyway.
posted by that's how you get ants at 12:05 PM on June 22, 2012


Also, I'm surprised the article didn't mention that when babies eat these, they don't need a spoon. They really missed the change to guilt me about how my baby will EVER learn to eat with a spoon.
posted by that's how you get ants at 12:07 PM on June 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


Also, the notion that sugar from fruit is bad for you is ridiculous. Juices, sure. But raw fruit?!

Low-fat raw vegan.

A billion disposable whatevers.

Yeah, you want to get outraged about something, try disposable diapers.

Yes, tossing a raw carrot at my baby would provide more nutrition and fiber, but it would also kill him.

Actually, I let my kids walk around with raw carrots all the time when they were infants. They liked to graw on them and it's actually pretty hard to bite off enough to make a choking hazard. Cantaloupe skins are the other good one... again, every child = different.

By the way, we took 4 on the plane in a ziploc and the TSA didn't care.

I think we took jars on the only flight we've taken with our baby. I'm pretty sure all baby food is exempted from restrictions (in the U.S.)
posted by mrgrimm at 12:09 PM on June 22, 2012


I don't buy HappyTots/HappyBaby anymore after seeing it featured in several lists of GMO-heavy products.
----------------------
I said:
"A lot of the people with "concerns" seem to be strangely fixated on the idea that if a parent is giving a child these pouches, that is ALL they are giving them. Such a leap!"

EmpressCallipygos said:
"To be fair, the article kind of implies that that's what's happening."

? Which article?

The NYT article was reliably overwrought, but still presented the majority viewpoint that pouches are one option amongst many in solving various food issues for the very young.

The Q&A style article promoted the same view most parents I know hold, which is to make the pouches part of an overall food experience that goes from raw to squeezable.

The long blog-type piece was nuanced and supported the same viewpoint, overall.

The message board conversation had a few people freaking out with misconceptions and doomsaying, and they were amongst those I was referencing as making strange assumptions.
posted by batmonkey at 12:13 PM on June 22, 2012


when babies eat these, they don't need a spoon

Heh, my 10 m.o. does. She is an eater/drinker of such voraciousness that if I let her do it herself, she would eat it so fast it might be a choking hazard. She chokes on water from a straw cup because she drinks it so fast.

We generally squeeze them into a spoon and feed her. The difference between these and jars for us is trivial. (I can see the lighter weight being a bonus.)

Now what I really miss is Dr. Susanna's World Baby Foods, which focused on international cuisine and introducing different spices, etc. I think expanding your little one's palate to include spices is a much harder trick than getting them to eat their fruits and vegetables (then again, I'm vegetarian, so what else they gonna eat? ;), and that was some good shit baby food.

I don't buy HappyTots/HappyBaby anymore after seeing it featured in several lists of GMO-heavy products.

Good to know. I was under the (mis)assumption that anything certified US organic could not include GMO ingredients, but I'm apparently wrong. Thanks, I'll have to look into that.


... I mean, Spinach, Mango, & Pear, my usual pick, is marked Non-GMO Certified in bold! I know that labeling is generally pretty fucked up anyway, but if they are using GMO ingredients, that's SERIOUSLY fucked up. Can they really get away with that?

What's your source on the GMO info?
posted by mrgrimm at 12:18 PM on June 22, 2012


I loved this:
“It takes tremendous resolve by parents to say, ‘Mealtime is mealtime,’ ” he added. Even if meals are not always shared with Dad, as is often the case in Dr. Wansink’s family, because he travels a lot for work. [And has delegated said mealtime ritual to his wife and children whilst sipping his pre-threestar-restaurant-dinner cocktail by the hotel pool, Ed.]
posted by likeso at 12:18 PM on June 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


It takes tremendous resolve by parents to say, ‘Mealtime is mealtime,'

Heh, exactly. It takes less resolve then getting them to brush their teeth every night and morning, imo. You decide you want to do it, you make it non-optional, it's not an issue.

We didn't start family dinner time until our first child was eating solid food, but since then, it's been sitting down with all of us every single night at 6:30 (or whenever dad can complete dinner (or whenever poor commuting mom finally gets home)) sitting down at the table together.

My family did it too (though not so strict about the time). I just can't imagine any alternative. Sometime I can't tell if my daughter actually ate some of her zucchini or not ... and I'm at the table with her. She still eats too many empty calories (crackers at daycare) etc.

I didn't watch the MSTK3000 video cuz I assumed it was a joke, but yeah, taking the focus off the food is smart, I think. Sometimes our three-year-old won't want to eat anything that is for dinner. I usually do insist she try it, but even if she won't, I'm not gonna ruin the night because of it. If she doesn't want to eat anything, she needs to sit there and talk to us for a while. (Then you try to leverage her hunger without backsliding into side-dish options, etc.)

Sitting down to a family dinner is becoming a lost art...and that's a shame, for a lot of reasons, the main one being for some families, that's the ONLY time they ever connect.

That was a familiar refrain in the '70s and '80s when I grew up. Has anything really changed in the past 20 years?
posted by mrgrimm at 12:38 PM on June 22, 2012


Whatever Gets You Through The Night (Day), as Lennon said. Parenting is hard. Although now that my kid is grown and eating nutritiously on her own, I don't have a toddler and these things look pretty creepy.

We didn't worry when our child was a picky eater and vegetables were not on the list of Things She Could Be Cajoled Into Eating. (You can't force-feed a child, y'know.) Somehow kids grow up OK anyway. I don't know how - it seems as if humans need a better diet than most small children have - but they do.

And going further back, I don't even remember snacks in the 50's and 60's. I think we had to wait until dinnertime, when all eight of us ate together, and no one was allowed to leave for any reason except to refill the bread plate or look up a word in The Dictionary.

Our child was brought up free-ranging, although dinnertime was still pretty much a big thing and I think that's a good thing. But really, why do we feel we have to have an opinion about pouches? Pouches, pouches, pouches, pouches, pouches...heh. I'm getting punchy.
posted by kozad at 12:43 PM on June 22, 2012


When hiking with my nephews, their mom used to cart around a backpack full of snacks that she wore on her front for easy access. Chips, Froot by the foot, candybar-like granola things, gummi bears. We called it her snack baby. Hiking was a constant rotation of snacks. These things seem to be applesauce mixed with other purees. They'd be a big improvement over what was usually in the snack baby. Considering how much applesauce we all ate as kids, how can these things be bad snacks? Seriously, I would feed these to my hungry toddlers without any guilt aside from the price. They are snacks. Treated as a snack and not as a meal, I would say they are mostly harmless and much better than a lot of other crap that passes as a snack.
posted by Foam Pants at 12:44 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have never, in my entire life, had an urge to go hiking until this very moment.
posted by griphus at 12:46 PM on June 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


OK, that's just disgusting! Baby food is for babies!

Back when I was recovering from bulemia, sometimes the only things I could make myself eat and not vomit right back up were baby foods. Even now, on the rare occasions when I am extremely stressed out to the point that my body will violently reject "real" foods, I can still eat a jar of apples & pears or something, or a packet of carrots/spinach/apples, and keep it down. At least my body's getting some nutrients that way, instead of cannibalizing itself.
posted by palomar at 12:56 PM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


My son has made this a non issue for us by refusing baby food in any form. I packed a fruit pouch for his latest well baby visit (15 months) thinking it would be a nice treat to distract him from the terror of the pediatrician. No dice. Not interested in anything puréed.

On the one hand, my life would be easier carrying pouches with me for snacks rather than PB&J - on the other, he's a great eater and developing good habits.

I totally see the appeal of the pouch, but it does seem a case of creating a new problem (pouch addiction) by solving an old one (won't eat veggies).
posted by sonika at 1:10 PM on June 22, 2012


Gosh, however did I develop the inclination to drink out of an adult cup, considering the prevalence of pouched drinks in the early 90s?
posted by muddgirl at 1:16 PM on June 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


mrgrimm asked:
"What's your source on the GMO info?"

Well, hm. Hm. Originally, it was from a presentation by Just Label It, and it was in a couple of lists after that, mostly because of their novel grains (from what I thought I understand at the time, anyway). But now it's not. It hasn't been a big deal, since we had so many other choices where I am (Plum, Ella, Earth's Best), so I didn't keep pursuing it.

Maybe I misunderstood which group it was in? Maybe! Sleep dep is a helluva drug!

After skimming a couple of things, maybe I'll pick up some of the flavours she's been missing since I dumped HappyBaby!
posted by batmonkey at 1:22 PM on June 22, 2012


After skimming a couple of things, maybe I'll pick up some of the flavours she's been missing since I dumped HappyBaby!

What I was able to find was mostly concerns about the DHA used in the Happy Bellies cereal, but I don't do cereal, so it doesn't affect me.

Labeling is a mess, but I think HappyBaby is Ok in general. But what do I know ...

mostly because of their novel grains

That is a pretty good point. I've always been suspicious of Salba™. What's wrong with plain chia seed? (I suppose that's not even a grain but a seed ... carry on (I too am dealing with ~4 years of sleep deprivation ...)
posted by mrgrimm at 1:37 PM on June 22, 2012


whining, horrific ramen-monster who has no table manners or ability to make small talk.

Clearly you didn't eat enough ramen. It has powers you can't comprehend.
posted by Malice at 2:50 PM on June 22, 2012


amarynth: "If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?"

It's not your time yet.
posted by Samizdata at 2:53 PM on June 22, 2012


And I confess I would prolly eat some of these if I could find them in a savory, high protein format. Yes, I would enjoy some astronaut steak and potatoes for snacks at work.
posted by Samizdata at 3:14 PM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


eating purees of fruits and vegetables isn't NEARLY as beneficial (for several reasons) as eating actual fruits and vegetables.

When feeding my almost-two-year-old, I like to amuse myself by pretending she's a Top Chef judge, and I am not above serving her both sliced apples and an applesauce pouch and telling her that she's eating an amuse-bouche of apples two ways.
posted by sobell at 3:46 PM on June 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


Dude. If I could get a decent steak and potatoes squeezy-bag for my facehole... well. That would be just about perfect. Throw in a cream braised brussels sprouts squeezy-bag and now we're talking.
posted by palomar at 3:56 PM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of DVD players in the backseat of cars.

For a long time, we didn't have a TV at all, but we had a portable DVD player in the backseat of the car. People (okay, grandparents) would simultaneously express horror at us being television-free, and disgust at the portable DVD player.

Things came to a head when we left a visit a bit early one day because we needed to stop at Target and buy another portable DVD player, because ours had died on the eight hour trip down.

The sarcasm really got turned on then. "WE never had movies in the car! We'd played tic tac toe and read books! I don't know how we survived without car movies!"

I lost my shit a little then. My retort was something like this: "My kids [then 1 and 4] can't read yet! The car is basically the only time they watch TV- when they are at home, they run around outside for the most part. Time in the car is dead, wasted time anyway, why not let them watch some Sesame Street? They are happy, we are happy, what's the big deal if they have lives a little better than yours? And ANOTHER thing- children didn't have to ride in cars at all until about 80 years ago- and then they got to bounce around without seatbelts or ride in the back of pickups. Now they are, thank God, strapped in a plastic bucket without much wiggle room, shouldn't we let them do something amusing with their time?"

My kids are past the food pouch point- they are 3 and 6 now, and they're both really into BLTs, lately, so a little snack bag of anything wouldn't be very appealing to either of them, I don't think- but these would have been great when they were very small, if only to contain the mess in the backseat. (Thought the non-perishable aspect of being able to keep them in the car would have been right nice, too.)

It's a helluva lot better than the drive thru, which is the most prevalent car food option as things stand. Less packaging waste, organic food, and less expensive.

Just because something is new and different doesn't mean it's bad.
posted by Athene at 4:01 PM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Nobody picked up on this yet?

They are shelf-stable! No refrigeration needed, with nice fancy tetra-pak style aspetic processing. Perfect for the farmer, who, due to increasingly uncertain climate conditions and energy costs, wants to ensure that their apples/carrots/whatever are salable and transportable.

Expect to see much more of this, dried fruits, fruit leathers, and canned/frozen fruits and vegetables in the future.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:40 PM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't know, man. My mother told me WTF I was going to eat. She would not have gone for a pouch of ANYTHING. Which is likely why I love junk food.
posted by skbw at 6:28 PM on June 22, 2012


Holy crappers, it's like the perfect judgmental storm - we get to judge hypothetical parents (not like any of the parents in this thread, goodness no, but you know, those other parents, the bad ones that we can tut tut about and who are ruining their children), AND we get to judge people's diets! AWESOME!!

Fuck. That. Shit.

We use pouches with our 7 month old daughter Quynh all the time, they are a GODSEND if you have the brazen effrontery to try and go anywhere with your baby during a scheduled meal time. So you might, you know, be able to eat something (together, even!) without a level of complexity and negotiation more appropriate to Camp David.

Heaven forfend we don't self-immolate on the pyre of Perfect Parenting, however, and cook every meal she eats a la carte. And while we're at it, a spoon is a bit coddling, isn't it? Bugger that for a game of soldiers, we just give her a some beef bones, a Kong filled with frozen brussel sprout paste, and a skewer. It's the only way to produce a healthy, appropriate child don't you know.

When in Australia, I saw pouches of every vegetable and vege mix (no fruit in there) that I could imagine.

I can confirm this is true, there are easily 20-30 varieties in our neighbourhood grocery store, covering every combination you could possibly think, and some that are positively Lovecraftian.

I mean, I get it, but these moral panics shit me up the wall. I love cooking. I cook every week for both us and the baby, she eats home food with every meal, in addition to the pouches. But it honestly doesn't matter: having food in a pouch is not going to result in the collapse of modern civilisation.

I know it feels super satisfying to smugly judge someone's parenting and find them wanting. But that environment is just fucking toxic for parents and children alike. It's an environment that thrives on judgment but lacks the commitment of support and the knowledge of context - and it's the kind of evironment which is like petrol on the smoldering embers of post-natal depression and parental isolation.

How many meals have you cooked for your parent families and friends, o judges? I'll tell you how many: Not enough. How many meals have you managed to tired, stressed, alienated parents can at least go through a grim charade of their former lives, daring to order more than one course, not get takeaway, read the paper during breakfast?

We have a society that both compels parents to proceed with work hours and lifestyles as if children are simple accessories no more bothersome than a small and hardy goldfish, but at the same time lambast them for daring to pretend that it's difficult, it can be a struggle, that sacrificing the "right thing" for the sake of convenience is not an apocalyptic outcome for a child's welfare, for attempting to follow the mores that brook no deviation from child-less, adult, routine. You are damned if you do, and damned if you don't, and seeing people gleefully leap onto the prosecution bandwagon to wallow in this dichotomy hypocrisy makes the hard job of being a new parent even harder. You just don't want to go outside sometimes.

It really pisses me off.
posted by smoke at 6:43 PM on June 22, 2012 [16 favorites]


Oh you gave your kid food from a pouch? I didn't realize I was better than you!
posted by Brocktoon at 7:33 PM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


> Yuck. These actually exist? I have never seen or heard of these before. Maybe it is an American thing

The ones my daughter likes, Trader Joe's apple and carrot Crushers, are French.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:13 PM on June 22, 2012


Pro tip: hungry kids will eat anything.

Please pass this memo on to my son, circa 12:30 this afternoon, sitting at a picnic table with a g-ddamn McNugget because he hadn't eaten a meal in three days and C'MON I KNOW YOU'RE HUNGRY AND LOOK - MC. NUGGET.

(It took another six and a half hours, but he did finally eat the nugget.)
posted by sonika at 8:37 PM on June 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


(Also, if I had a child who would eat a pouch, I wouldn't have been desperately trying to shove a McNugget into his face - which is just one step above nuclear waste, only with breaded coating. So. There's that.)
posted by sonika at 8:41 PM on June 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I know that labeling is generally pretty fucked up anyway, but if they are using GMO ingredients, that's SERIOUSLY fucked up.

Sigh. No. No, it's not. THIS is why we need clear labeling - what GMO product was used, how it was modified, and the potential hazards (IF any) are involved. Is GMO/ not GMO isn't very helpful, as there is some genetic engineering that is immensely helpful, and then there is "Round-Up Ready" dickery.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:42 PM on June 22, 2012


I read this whole thread and my takeaway is, "I gotta give these pouches another try!"

Seriously. Feeding a toddler is fraught. The pouch is just another tool in the arsenal. Rock on, parents!
posted by amanda at 11:22 PM on June 22, 2012


I keep coming back to this thread. What gets the most about the pearl-clutching here is that we're talking about pouches of organic pureed fruits and veggies. This stuff is marketed such that it kind of made me feel like buying Gerber or Beechnut was the equivalent of buying toxic waste (note: I did not actually believe that and bought plenty of the cheapo non-organic stuff too, and made my own baby food when it was practical). I think we can safely say that 90% of the parents buying these pouches are doing it because they genuinely care and are trying their best. We're not talking about people giving their toddlers a package of Oreos and a Coke. At the end of the day, many of us parents are just trying to do our best, making it up as we go along, with a limited set of resources. Maybe our limited resources are time, or money, or patience, or creativity, or energy. If applesauce in a pouch is the worst compromise we'll make in a day I'll take that.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 3:39 AM on June 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


We used the pouches a lot back in the high flying days. Shelf stable, took up very little room in the suitcase, not even remotely a choking hazard (she inherited the weak throat thing I have where you choke on a LOT of innocuous things) (she choked on pear, the first time she tried solid food) which was a concern for us while flying, and there isn't a damn thing on an airplane I'm going to feed her.

Sure, I could have packed a spoon and a container of the stuff she usually had but it takes more space in the bag, is much messier and needs to be washed at some point. Not to mention the 'busting open midflight in your bag' thing. The pouches won. We're Australian so it was usually the vegetable one. at home we did baby led weaning, but when we were out it was more difficult, between the allergies and the lack of suitable food available. So the pouch of sweet potato or pumpkin replaced the small tub and spoon of sweet potato or pumpkin.

Once we moved and stopped flying every month, we stopped getting them. However, some bright spark marketer decided to trial sour cream in a pouch. And some dimwit bought it home (me). And put it on the table with the rest of the taco ingredients in arms reach of the toddler (me, again). She emptied it in about twenty seconds. Don't worry, she will still eat sour cream from a tub too...

So far today she has eaten peanut butter on toast, tea, frothy milk 'coffee', leek and salami quiche, baby spinach salad with avocado and pine nuts, persimmon, apple, banana, roast beetroot, roast lamb, roast carrot, roast potato, roast sweet potato, gravy, and caramel dumplings since we had company. Every single one of those things was the exact same as what one of us adults ate. Even though for six months she ate a fair few pouches, she has one or two snacks a day, we never make her finish her meal and we don't make her ignore her body to fit our pre-determined schedule.

Which is a decision we made because it's taken me all of my adult life to undo the fuckery that is 'finish your plate' and 'you only get to eat when it's an approved meal time'. Add in gall bladder surgery and it's a lovely little shitstorm of eating issues that have nothing to do with body image. I am finally working out, at the grand age of thirty, how to tell the difference between hunger, thirst and satiety. If I'm not paying attention, all three feel the same. I'm learning not to stuff myself at every defined meal break - if I'm not hungry I dont need to eat just because it's a meal break, I can snack whenever I damn well want since I have an office job. If I've just eaten a bowl of porridge, the sensation I have is probably satiety not hunger. Just because I am not painfully full (my post meal state for 28 or so years) doesn't mean I need to eat more, or again. I never want this for my child. I love food, and I want her to love it too. How I lived before intuitive eating, before mindfulness, was nothing to do with food or loving food. It was all about societal expectations placed on my parents, that they then passed to me. I refuse to pass them to my daughter.
posted by geek anachronism at 5:14 AM on June 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


My kids are going to have a pen with a trough of vegetable puree on the floor to eat from (easy cleanup!). They can eat grownup food at the table when they ask to because their friends at school tell them it's weird to eat on the floor.
posted by fraxil at 8:44 AM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


They are shelf-stable! No refrigeration needed, with nice fancy tetra-pak style aspetic processing.

True. And out here in earthquake country, I have a couple of cases of squeezy-pak applesauce and the spinach/mango/pear puree in our earthquake kit. They're a heck of a lot lighter than the equivalent amount of canned fruits/veggies, and they'll stave off the scurvy if we ever do end up relying on them after a natural disaster.
posted by sobell at 11:16 AM on June 23, 2012


This thread reads like an infomercial for this pouch food. "Ordinary apples get mushy and bruised! Yuck! Money down the drain! You could try applesauce in a jar -- but did you remember to pack a spoon??? There's got to be an easier way!"

Time in the car is dead, wasted time anyway, why not let them watch some Sesame Street?

It's up to you what your kids do in the car, but time to look out the window and think is hardly dead and wasted.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 1:09 PM on June 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


This thread reads like an infomercial for this pouch food.

Interesting, to me it reads like people who have actually tried it, and people who haven't and maybe even aren't parents.
posted by smoke at 2:45 PM on June 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's up to you what your kids do in the car, but time to look out the window and think is hardly dead and wasted.

The kids are 1 and 4...they are not going to look out the window and quietly think, more than likely. Maybe a very unusual 4-year-old would, definitely NOT a 1-year-old.
posted by feathermeat at 8:13 PM on June 23, 2012


I loved my kids so much I grew food pouches for them out of my BODY. One on each side of my chest.

Oh, you didn't do that? Huh.
posted by rdc at 9:33 PM on June 23, 2012


I don't expect little children in cars to be pondering the nature of life (though I think all of them wonder about that eventually, even if it's on a very basic level). But I think it's perfectly reasonable to expect even very young ones to be able to take an interest in what's happening around them as they're shuttled from one place to an entirely different one - and what's happening is a lot of things, when you think about it. Children are so new in the world. I think adults forget how novel ordinary things can be to them. They're still learning how lights and shadows and all the basic physical laws of the universe work. Even on a boring drive where there's "nothing", there's still finding out about all the different colours the sky can be and the arcs and phases of the sun and moon and the shapes of clouds and the way bits of paper fly past you and the way noises change as they get closer and then go far away again and all the different smells the wind carries. And if you're driving through a city or something, well, oh my god. Children don't necessarily talk about all this with their parents, or even articulate it to themselves. But that's not what matters.

Personally, I'm sure I had started wearing a bra by the time I stopped being fascinated by the way you sometimes can't tell, in a car, if it's you passing the trees and things or if you're actually staying in one place while they pass you. No, not everyone is going to be like that, but I think it's a major shame to assume that children can't be entertained by anything apart from books and videos, or that time not spent on some specific nameable activity is simply wasted. Yet a child of any temperament can learn to see it that way if that's how you treat it.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 1:03 AM on June 24, 2012


Also, I'm surprised how many people seem to think, "I ate a lot of sugary snacky rubbish as a child and I turned out OK." My feeling is much more along the lines of, "I ate a lot of sugary snacky rubbish as a child... and I really didn't need to do that, ever enjoy it as much as I wanted to, or benefit from it in any way." One of the few things I regret about my childhood is all the shitty things I ate and drank that only made me fat and slightly nauseous. Being a lithe, energetic, beautiful child would have been better than drinking all that Coke and eating all those sandwiches, but nobody ever really put me on the right path for that. It's taken me until now to fix that (sort of), and it could have been much worse.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 1:20 AM on June 24, 2012


I'm not seeing any of that. I am seeing some people saying "actually these aren't sugary snacky rubbish."
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:04 AM on June 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't think eating creamsicles made me any less beautiful.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:14 AM on June 24, 2012


It's up to you what your kids do in the car, but time to look out the window and think is hardly dead and wasted.

My kid sits in the middle because it's safer, and is too small to look out the window from her carseat anyway. She's still in her infant seat.

I literally ate a pint if ice cream every two days while in college, and weighed less than 100 pounds. There are lots of reasons people get overweight, and demonizing food isn't going to solve them.
posted by snickerdoodle at 7:34 AM on June 24, 2012


These were great when we were doing stage 3 baby food, for 2 reasons: I never got the hang of making appetizing soft baby food with meats, so this was one way to get some protein into baby. And they taste a LOT better than the jarred baby food with meat.

Yes, they are expensive, but you can save some dough on them with Amazon subscribe and save.
posted by bq at 8:17 AM on June 24, 2012


To be honest, I was rambling this morning because of some medicine I have to take, and I only meant to talk about my personal experience, even if that wasn't clear or it wasn't quite relevant. Being overweight as a child really made me unhappy, and it had nothing to do with any informed choice I made to put the consumption of sugary processed things - and mashed apples in a bag don't seem all that superior to me - before everything else in my life. It just happened to me, because I didn't know what I was doing and no one stopped me. I also think it's pretty unusual to be able to eat pints and pints of ice cream without getting fat, and that regretting your own bad eating habits and their consequences is not the same thing as demonising all food. IMO food should just be worth whatever it does to you.

Also, I'm really not concerned about how particular parents raise their particular children, but I am prepared to disagree with the idea that children are like X or sitting in the car is like Y or whatever.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 12:03 PM on June 24, 2012


At a recent family gathering, my sister was mentioning how my nephew loved the cafeteria's 'pouch milk' when he was in grade school. I love that term. I was drinking 'pouch wine' the other day. Target should pick up on this...
posted by zangpo at 5:53 PM on June 24, 2012


I was drinking 'pouch wine' the other day. Target should pick up on this...

I haven't been to Target in a while, but the last time I was there, I'm sure they have several varieties of box wine, which is essentially "pouch wine" with a cardboard box to protect it your 3L. ...

Here you go. June 2010: the Target Wine Cube.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:52 AM on June 25, 2012


Wine Cubes! Cause admitting your marriage is failing would be like admitting defeat.
posted by The Whelk at 10:02 AM on June 25, 2012


I can personally attest that Bag of Wine is the best way to consume wine in a hot tub or swimming pool... not that you should be drinking in a hot tub, but we know you do anyway.

(You make a Bag of Wine by buying boxed wine and removing the cardboard carapace)
posted by muddgirl at 10:06 AM on June 25, 2012


Adult Capri Suns!
posted by The Whelk at 10:13 AM on June 25, 2012


Actually, Whelk: according to a sommelier I once knew, the wine-in-a-box is actually a good move. The wine is in a bag inside the box, and the bag collapses as the wine decreases - which keeps air out, and that preserves the wine longer. Box wine is only perceived a bad thing because right now it's only the cheap-ass people who use a box as opposed to the really good vintiners. The box itself is inherantly a good idea.

(Arguably more horrifying is something I saw in my local package store the other day - a four-pack of baby 8-ounce wine bottles.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:13 AM on June 25, 2012


I say this as someone who regularly stocks up on Bandit boxed wine cause SO CHEAP and SURPRISINGLY GOOD.
posted by The Whelk at 10:22 AM on June 25, 2012


"(Arguably more horrifying is something I saw in my local package store the other day - a four-pack of baby 8-ounce wine bottles.)"

No, those are awesome, for cooking with when you're pregnant (or just don't want to open a bottle). I keep these little bottles in my pantry specifically for cooking! They're SO convenient. Also sometimes we've drunk all the wine in the house and I need some to cook, and nobody's ever raided the mini-bottles!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:47 AM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


for cooking with when you're pregnant

Fun fact: There's still gonna be alcohol in there. Maybe a lot more than you think.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:59 AM on June 25, 2012


I can personally attest that Bag of Wine is the best way to consume wine in a hot tub or swimming pool... not that you should be drinking in a hot tub, but we know you do anyway.

To that personal attestation I can add my own: Bag o' Wine is the best way to consume wine in Whiskeytown Lake.

Speaking of safety, empty Bags o' Wine inflated with air and tucked under one's armpits are the best way to stay afloat in Whiskeytown Lake while consuming wine from a bag.
posted by notyou at 10:59 AM on June 25, 2012


Even if Eyebrows McGee was drinking a whole 8-oz bottle per day, there should be no adverse effects to the baby. Whatever survives the cooking-down process should be perfectly safe. A zero-tolerance policy towards alcohol while pregnant is not supported by scientific literature.
posted by muddgirl at 11:02 AM on June 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Fun fact: There's still gonna be alcohol in there. Maybe a lot more than you think."


Fun fact: My recipes are for 6-8 people. 1/6 of 4 oz is a lot less alcohol than a glass of wine, and opening one mini-bottle is a lot less wasteful than opening a whole bottle that nobody will thereafter drink to get 4 oz. worth. (And it's probably okay for pregnant women to have a glass of wine now and then anyway, let alone a little wine in a sauce that simmers all day.)

But thanks for the "you're a bad mother" concern trolling.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:03 AM on June 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


You're welcome.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:08 AM on June 25, 2012


"(Arguably more horrifying is something I saw in my local package store the other day - a four-pack of baby 8-ounce wine bottles.)"

I keep these little bottles in my pantry specifically for cooking!



....I actually bought a pack for this very purpose myself. Although I said that the six-pack of wine was arguably more horrifying than wine in a box, that didn't necessarily mean that I am personally horrified by either. (I'm more horrified by whatever kind of wine that sommelier tricked me into trying this one time even though he knew it tasted like a wet fur coat.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:39 AM on June 25, 2012


a four-pack of baby 8-ounce wine bottles

Movie theatres.

Box wine is only perceived a bad thing because right now it's only the cheap-ass people who use a box as opposed to the really good vintiners.

Fundamentally, yes, but I think with red wine there is the larger problem of aging it. Why put a really good wine in a bag if it won't age properly...?

But white wines, yeah, Bandit is pretty good.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:12 PM on June 25, 2012


I've been enjoying the Black Box cabernet sauvignon. I don't know beans about wine and maybe it would horrify the more aware, but I like the taste and I like that it keeps.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:12 PM on June 25, 2012


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