Eat This

Virtual veggies

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Look, we’re trying to get into the holiday spirit, we really are. But it’s hard. When the EPA decides the P in its acronym means poison, we get discouraged. And then there’s this from our friends at Pinnacle Foods.

Birds Eye® is on a mission to inspire a love of vegetables – and it all starts with kids. To help encourage the next generation to discover their passion for vegetables, Birds Eye is launching the “Feed Kids Better” initiative to benefit Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry CampaignTM.

So why am I complaining? It’s this—the initiative consists of getting kids to “like” Birds Eye vegetables on Facebook. And then the company donates to Share Our Strength and you get a coupon. That’s a lot of promotion for a corporate donation not to exceed 50k.  And in terms of encouraging vegetable consumption, I’d have to call this a feeble effort. They’re not asking kids to grow vegetables, eat vegetables, or even touch vegetables. They don’t even have to know what a vegetable looks like—they just need to find a Facebook page and click a button.

Elsewhere in the trademark-and-copyright-symbol-laden press release I found this: Frozen vegetables can be easily steamed in the microwave for young cooks. Now there’s a 21st century word association—frozen, microwave, and cook.

Recent studies—prompted by our country’s frightening problem with child obesity—have shown that the closer a child’s relation with the growing of food, the healthier her eating habits will be. In other words, if you want a kid to like vegetables, teach him or her how to grow one. Even the tiniest kitchen garden does the job of teaching kids where their food comes from. And the kids who have had this experience are more likely to have healthier diets. Hence all the programs that Michelle Obama and others are initiating and that we have reported on here. And we have evidence closer at hand—our own Michele’s pictures of her beautiful, healthy kids working in their vegetable gardens. I’m guessing they didn’t get that way through liking corporations on Facebook.

I have nothing against frozen vegetables—in fact, I rely on frozen peas for first aid as well as for sprinkling into the paella. But this initiative is about branding for brandings sake. It scarcely matters what the product is. It’s certainly got nothing to do with healthy eating.

HT Carol/May Dreams Gardens

Posted by on December 19, 2010 at 9:14 am, in the category Eat This.
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9 Responses to “Virtual veggies”

  1. Donna says:

    agreed that if they grow it they are likely to eat it…so we need to get the parents to grow it and then grow it with their kids..in this fast and lazy world (I am included here) we tend to look for fast healthy food…it really does not exist…so we need to go back to making things like our own soup…I haven’t opened a can of soup in 2 years…my mom used to make scratch soup…the best and now I do all year..lots of veggies and good too…the campaign is very lame…

  2. Carol says:

    I agree. Kids need to know that vegetables come from gardens, not plastic bags in the freezer section of the grocery store.

  3. anne says:

    Birds Eye sells frozen vegetables, so naturally they are doing whatever they can to promote and sell their product, and they are huge, so they have the money to do a lot. Because eating fresh and locally is hip these days, they are using that trend in their marketing campaign. It would be nice if large corporations that have so much power and influence also had morals and integrity, instead of subscribing to the “buyer beware” mentality, but alas, they are under no obligation to anyone but their share holders….and in our society, business is sacred. Guess I’m just a little jaded!

    I guess you could write to their board of directors, telling them you are appalled at their lack of integrity, but I’m not sure it would get you far.

    On the other hand, I’ll bet there are lots of families out there in America whose diets would benefit from eating even frozen vegetables more often…..

  4. eliz says:

    Oh sure, Anne, the behavior is totally expected, but I like to complain about it anyway.

  5. commonweeder says:

    I can’t believe any parents would actually believe that a Bird’s Eye Facebook page would help children like eating vegetables. Even buying and cooking fresh vegetables is a help. My daughter said he 12 year old son likes making soup for lunch. I was so excited and asked what his favorite recipe was and she admitted that what she meant was he liked opening the can and heating the soup himself.

  6. TopVeg says:

    I must defend Birds Eye – surely doing something is better than nothing? Frozen pea consumption is dropping – not sure why when they are so full of vitamins – but all efforts to familiarise kids with veg should be encouraged.
    Not happy if big organisations pretend they are doing something they are not – but I will give Birds Eye marks for trying

  7. Great rant. I am with you on the irritating means and what a great & cheap promotion this is for B. E. for their dollar, but I also feel that any awareness of vegetables, health & helping others is good awareness.

  8. Laura Bell says:

    Frozen peas are a staple in my kids’diet. Since I’ve yet to convince them that spinach, kale, & lettuce won’t kill them & my fresh peas, broccoli & radishes have not yet started coming in, frozen peas are a reliable (even requested !) way to give them something green/plant-based. I’ll still load my few fresh home-grown veggies into soups, stews, casseroles, etc of course, but sometimes, even in the Land of Plenty, frozen is the way to go.

    That said, maybe I’m being an overprotective mom, but … people let their kids have Facebook accounts ? I mean, I’m there and I hardly think it’s appropriate for my kids. Most of it is safe, sure. But it’s that small fraction that is not that bothers me. There are other ways to introduce them to social networking than FB. Don’t get me started about MySpace.

    And a max donation of $50K ? Very lame. If they want to promote kids eating veggies, they should sponsor a school/community garden grant. But that wouldn’t sell more frozen veggies, would it ?

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