Friday, July 6, 2012

Books That Help Kids Make Smarter Food Choices

Never before have we been so removed from our food source!  So many children have absolutely no understanding of where their food comes from, or how many resources it takes to simply make the lunch they take for granted every day in their lunch box.  Thankfully there are some wonderful books, targeted for children, which will help them connect the dots from field to table.

The wonderful picture book How Did That Get In My Lunchbox gives the youngest audience a early view of how the food in their lunchbox is made.  The other two books were adapted from their very successful adult counterparts, Omnivore's Dilema and Fast Food Nation.  Omnivore's Dilema:Young Readers Edition gives them a wonderful understanding of the many ways food gets to us and how the choices we make have a direct effect on the world around us.  After one chapter of Chew On This, your kids may never eat in a fast food restaurant again!

I hope this weeks selections give you some great tools to get your kids informed and smarter when they make choices about what they eat.  Imagine how proud you will be when they pass on the fries and ask for that organic apple.  Ok, I may be a little ahead of myself but know they will never look at their diner plate the same way again.

Don't forget to follow one great book on Facebook and twitter.  Links are on the bar to the right.  Happy reading!

Title:          How Did That Get In My Lunchbox
Author:      Chris Butterworth
Target:       Preschool - Grade 2
What this book is about:
This book takes a look at what is in a kid’s lunchbox, and shows children how their food got there.  It takes you from the fields, to the processing, to the store.  You learn what goes into a slice of bread, how milk is turned into cheese and even shows the cocoa pods where the chocolate beans come from - all the way to the chocolate chip cookie!
Why I love this book:
First off it is a wonderful introduction for kids who probably never thought about the origin of their lunch food.  We are currently so removed from the food chain, that it gives children a colorful introduction to just what it takes to get that food onto the shelf at a store. 
Additionally, I love the illustrations by Lucia Gaggiotti.  They are bright and fun with a classic retro feel.  The pictures alone will get kids to pick up this book.  I know all of my kids grabbed it off the table when I brought it home, with no prodding at all. 
Who this book is for:
All kids.  A wonderful way to start talking with them about the origins of what is on their plate.
Final thoughts:
Now if someone could just tell me how to stop my kids from eating their desert first!

To purchase this book, please visit your local bookstore or click here to connect to Amazon: How Did That Get In My Lunchbox?: The Story of Food  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog.

Title:          Omnivore’s Dilemma: Young Readers Edition
Author:      Michael Pollan
Target:       Grades 6 and up
What this book is about:
This book is adapted from Pollan’s adult book by the same title.  The book is divided into four sections: The Industrial Meal (what you buy at a typical grocery store), Industrial Organic Food (organically sourced food at large level such as Whole Foods), Local Sustainable (small farms and farmer’s markets) and The Do It Yourself Meal (what you can grow and hunt yourself.) 
Pollen talks about the cost to society of each type of meal, from political, to social, to economic.  His philosophy is that you can’t make good decisions about your food unless you are informed.
Why I love this book:
This book really does change the way you look at food, and if you give this book to your child, be prepared to make some changes in your own shopping habits!  I like that Pollen looks at the science behind how food is produced.  This is more than a book about sourcing our food, but also a look at the chemistry involved in producing the food we eat.
The book can read a little like research at times, which means both my son and I skimmed in some places, but the overall message is so surprising and compelling for kids that even by skimming in spots they will take away quite a bit.
It spurred so many great discussions around the dining room table that even my younger kids, who have not read the book, learned an amazing amount about our food.  All three of them now refuse to go to McDonalds.  So perhaps that’s another incentive to get your kids reading it!
Who this book is for:
I think that most kids will be so surprised by what they learn regarding our food chain, that even more reluctant readers will be drawn into this book.
Final thoughts:
I personally felt the adult version was a little technical for me, I actually enjoyed the younger version of the book quite a bit more!

To purchase this book, please visit your local bookstore or click here to connect to Amazon: The Omnivore's Dilemma for Kids: The Secrets Behind What You Eat  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog.

Title:          Chew On This
Author:      Eric Schlosser & Chalres Wilson
Target:       Grades 5 and up
What this book is about:
This is a behind the scenes look at the fast food industry.  The book takes on the history of fast food, how the meat and chicken are obtained, the influx soda and how fast food has lead to national obesity.  
Why I love this book:
No child can be ignorant of the effects of fast food after this book.  I will say the book is fairly one sided, and I think that Ominvores Dilema does a better job at giving kids a wholistic view of the food industry, but kids should be aware of the choices they make when they chose a Big Mac!
This book is more readable than Omnivores Dilema by including stories in each section that illustrate the author's point.  It reads more like little vignettes than non fiction and is not as heavy on the science.  I think most kids will be shocked by what they read and look at food in a whole new way.
Who this book is for:
This book does describe the killing of livestock.  While it is fairly matter of fact, if you have a child that can’t handle that kind of information, I would hold off on the book until they are older.  If you are trying to get your kids to eat better, this book will shock them out of fast food.
Final thoughts:
Don’t read this book if you ever want to go to McDonalds again!  After this book, those days are gone.

To purchase this book, please visit your local bookstore or click here to connect to Amazon: Chew On This: Everything You Don't Want to Know About Fast Food  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog.

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