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Influence: Doing More Harm Than Good

Last night Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution was on TV and #FoodRevolution was an organic trend on twitter.

At the same moment, a manufactured trend occurred, it was #Lunchables.

I am embarrassed for the women would take their hard earned social capital and give it to a product that is killing our kids and our planet. If you are giving your child a steady diet of processed food you are not parenting as well as you should be. If your child is getting mounds of sugar in their meals, you are gifting them diabetes. When lunches come in disposable plastic you are ruining the planet for everyone, don’t give me the “they can be recycled” line. We all know they won’t be. Cheese is made of milk, it shouldn’t appear shiny or waxy, it is not a delicacy to be unfolded from cellophane.

Watch this and you tell me if you trust women that encourage you to feed your children Lunchables.

I am off to the market, as I am about to create a series of videos for you. I hope you find them appalling.

93 thoughts on “Influence: Doing More Harm Than Good”

  1. I’m so glad I was asleep when #lunchables was trending. Talk about a nightmare. Jessica, I couldn’t agree with you more. I don’t know whether it’s ignorance, misinformation, or just the Twitter equivalent of a celebrity selling out. Moms promoting processed food is appalling.

  2. I have never fed my kids Lunchables and did NOT participate in the #lunchables Twitter party. I never fed them to my 24 yr old and I also dn’t buy them for my 9 & 10 yr olds. They have asked for them and I always say no. When they ask me why I tell them,”Because they are junky food” Not that there is anything wrong with cheese, crackers & deli meats, but if I am going to feed them meat and cheese it is going to be REAL meat and cheese, not processed “cheese food product” and “loaf” lunch meat. They have nacho and hot dog lunchables that are even scarier than the lunch meat ones.
    Good post.

  3. I can honestly say that my kids have never had a lunchables – fresh meats, fruits and veggies are a given in Peru. Of course, it means we have to spend about 4 hours a day in the kitchen cooking – but that’s why I choose to be a work from home mom.

    I use to teach pre-school in the US, and was just appalled by the number of kids that came to school each day with lunchables or a pop-top can of ravioli. How long does it take to make a peanut butter sandwich and throw an apple in the bag? And those were low income families, where the PB&J route would have been a lot cheaper.

  4. I didn’t even realize that lunchables was having a twitter party; I thought that watching Food Revolution had naturally turned the conversation to the terrible food choices available to children.

  5. Well, I am not going to defend Lunchables for their food(although, I do see some small changes they have made). NOT at all what I feed my children, but what I will say is that I participated in the Twitter party for the program they were discussing. Field Trips. Yes, that’s right. Aside from the hashtag, there was no discussion of the Lunchables, but rather, field trips and what they mean to our children and that Lunchables is giving 50 classrooms a field trip. Healthy, green, eco….or not, that’s a good thing. Don’t even see a lot of “healthy” companies doing that. I will admit, it was one that I struggled with as far as participation, but I would rather work WITH a company toward improvement rather than attack from the sidelines. Some do that when they, themselves, don’t feed their children the healthiest of foods.

  6. While the field trips are, on the surface, super nice of them, don’t you think it’s a bit like a beer company sponsoring sporting events? ‘Wow, Oscar Mayer was so awesome, we should buy some of their Lunchables!’ Maybe you won’t feed them to your kids, but not everyone is as resistant to advertising – in all its forms – as you.

  7. I watched this unfold as you did. I sat and watched…amazed that many of the same women that had been using the #FoodRevolution tag were participating in the #lunchables party. I didn’t and I still don’t understand how these same women who say I won’t feed *my* kid that or who come on twitter and say “I just saw someone giving their kid ____, do I say something?” could justify participating in a party sponsored by a company that helps contribute to childhood obesity. I wonder if they were participating for the prizes more than for than the “good cause”. Honestly I don’t care how good of a cause the party was, do people not realize that is a marketing ploy? It’s a ploy to get people to think their company is out for good when it’s really about their bottom line. It’s gets more people hearing their name, more people thinking oh this company is doing something good so they aren’t *so* bad.

    36 grams of sugar in their (processed) turkey, (processed) cheese and crackers! That’s more sugar than is in a krispy kreme glazed donut (which has 10 grams) – That’s dessert folks!! And to say oh well they are getting nutrients from the lunchables – it’s processed food!!

    I understand that not everyone understands nutrition and thinks “hey the kid is getting their protein, dairy & grain from the lunchables” (great marketing again), but these women that are using the #FoodRevolution tag certainly must get the basics of nutrition, at least they claim too. It’s going to take people standing up against participating in parties for companies like this and spreading the word why they won’t participate. Personally, I couldn’t say #FoodRevolution in one breath and #lunchables in the other and remain true to what I believe in – whole foods for lunches. I won’t compromise my values/beliefs for a prize.

  8. I don’t know the details of the #lunchables party, but I would assume that these field trips they are giving away are an opportunity for them to give Lunchables to those kids on their trip. Kids are MUCH less savvy about marketing. The few times my kids have had lunchables (my MIL buys them when they come over) they didn’t even EAT them, they didn’t like them. But they still ASK for them all the time at the store. That’s the insidious power of marketing to children.

        1. Marketing is great, I have no problem with marketing, but WHO is marketing to you? Under the guise of what?

          Are these trusted relationships? Is a twitter party a party or is it something else?

  9. “…That’s like saying – ‘I would never want my kids to smoke, but it’s really nice that RJ Reynold’s donated all these backpacks’…” — @Kelly

    Well said.

    Blogging has enough challenges as it is to be seen as a respectable endeavor — adding “hypocrite” to the list of descriptive words is maddening.

  10. I agree with much of what you are saying and will never argue against taking practical steps to improve our children’s lives, be it health, education whatever.

    But I would be remiss to point out that some times principles are the province of the wealthy and affluent. It is not right and it is not fair but it is often reality. If we want to affect real change we need to do things to help educate parents about smart options and find ways to make things more affordable.

    I love Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches. They were a staple of my diet as a child and something that I still snack upon from time to time. But at some schools they are anathema. Peanut allergies have caused them to be banished from the classroom/cafeteria.

  11. “I love Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches. They were a staple of my diet as a child and something that I still snack upon from time to time. But at some schools they are anathema. Peanut allergies have caused them to be banished from the classroom/cafeteria.”

    Point taken – but it doesn’t change the fact that there are healthier and cheaper options to foods like Lunchables.

    However, I don’t think affordability is as much an issue as time. A whole chicken costs about as much as 4 or 5 lunchables, and can be stretched out to 10 or 12 lunches – sandwiches, soups, salads. Even adding in the cost of noodles, bread and veggies, it’s going to be cheaper than the pre-packaged foods. But moms that are working a job and a half, plus taking care of the house and kids don’t always have the luxury of time to cook and prepare a fresh chicken. Convenience is expensive. That’s why it’s frustrating to see people who can least afford it falling back on convenience foods so often, whether by choice or necessity.

  12. When I was going to school I never ate meals that were for purchase in the cafeteria because it looked really gross but I did eat Lunchables assuming they were at least better than pizza and fries. The amount of sodium alone in those products is dangerous. I was overweight and when I look back on my dietary habits I’m not surprised.

  13. Thanks for this post! I agree completely and was also horrified to see mothers who claim to be all about nutrition selling out for this. Our kids’ health should not be for sale, even for cool prizes.

  14. Putting my views aside the many Twitter party hosts, brand ambassadors, etc. are not qualified for their roles and often just work with companies for the money, this Lunchables party really got me. The fact that it was going on AT THE SAME time as Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution was so beyond ironic…I *almost* had no words.

    The fact that so many eyeballs are on mom bloggers, moms on Twitter, or whatever we want to call them…that they have so much perceived influence…and this is what they’re pushing to their masses is so disheartening.

  15. Yuck! I don’t know much about twitter..don’t even have an acct. So I knew nothing of the party or whatever it is. My girls are 2 and 1 they had a few lunchables..before I really really knew better :( Not given to them by me but their well meaning grandmother. After seeing some information on them, they are absolutely not allowed to have them again! Now when my daughter sees one in the store she asks for them. I put together ones myself! In a little container with a lid. It contains salami ( nitrate and nitrite free ) real cheddar cheese or Gouda Robusto, grapes or blueberries and strawberries. They think that they are the luckiest kids on the planet! Screw Lunchables and their overly processed CRAP! My little girl Abigail would much rather go have a sushi roll from our favorite sushi place ANY DAY!
    Jessica, thanks for this. I am so glad to see there are other mothers out there who care so much about good food. Most people make fun of me because I am so obsessive about what my children eat. But in the end..I am giving them the best gift possible. I think I am giving my kids a great gift, health, happiness, and the ability to choose awesome foods.

  16. Hi Jessica
    I’ve been a blogger for a few years now, but never have gotten into networking with blogger moms until recently. I have been so impressed with the way so many moms have come up with clever ways to have blogs that supplement their incomes and give moms a powerful voice.

    When I noticed that the lunchables twitter party was happening, I decided to support the mom who was hosting it by giving a perfunctory retweet, but since I don’t feed my child that type of food for all the reasons that you have detailed, I opted just to sit this one out.

    As I was working at my computer, your tweet popped up on my tweetdeck, and I nearly fainted! Anarchy at the twitter party! What will happen next? I have to say that at first I thought “why would she throw that bomb into another mom’s party like that?” I’m Southern and we tend to try to say things nicely even if it’s not a nice thing we need to say. After ruminating over the incident a while longer, I have to thank you.

    Thank you for preventing me from getting swept up in the WOM hysteria of promoting products that aren’t good for our kids. Thank you for reminding me to not have the flock mentality now that we have this amazing medium for doing good. If I am fortunate enough to turn my blog into a blog that influences moms, I hope I never pick a product or a sponsor you don’t like! ;)
    Your now fan,
    @Alexandra90210, the

  17. Wow… I have been watching this strain. Rediculous how some of you “Moms” are chomping at the bit to bring people down when you ALL and I am sure ALL of you in some way shape or form have given your kids or you yourselves have eaten processed food at some point in your lives.

    Most of you act as if you are holier than the next! I only saw one person honestly say why they chose to attend the twitter party and they were attacked from all sides. My God people!

    I LOVE how people were saying…”its about their bottom line”. lol Can you name me ANY company that dosent think about their bottom line? And comparing it to smoking…good lord pathetic attempt.

    If a company agrees to give their food product to a food bank to feed the hungry…is that bad because its LUNCHABLES!!! OMG!!!

    Here is the deal…… If a company CHOOSES to have an internet marketing party to announce they are going to give out field trips (lets be clear the party was not about lunchables…just sponsored by them… BFD) I think its wonderful that a company is spending their profits to give to kids. Why cant we ALL as perents come together and say “I do not like your product but I commend you for your efforts in educating our children” that at least would open a conversation with the company as to why you do not agree….maybe even get them to make improvements. isnt that good? To have a dialogue? Or is it better to shout them down and just tell them how terrible they are….yet offer no soloution to bring you together?

    I think it honorable of the one Mom here to have attended the party…. to get information on the field trips….If she is healthy in her family and does not eat the product and wanted to attend to get information…..why not? Did she give the company her money? No. Did she say “I love lunchables”? NO. She gave an honest explanation as to why she attended.

    If someone shows up at your kids school and wants them to have new books….wants to pay for it….but works at Oscar Meyer. You will all say no? Gimmie a break!

    Kudos Cathy for your efforts. Dont pay attention to the haters. keep up the good fight. If people don’t at least try to meet halfway…progress cant be made.

    As for the rest of you…. Try to make a difference! Not shout down others. Try to be positive toward things…try to see how change can come about though conversation. Even conversations with people or companies you do not agree with. Thats how we come together.

    Now…I am sure Ill be attcked here by the same people attacking Cathy. And thats fine. That just who you are.

    1. As an FYI Paulie, if you knew what I’d said, “no thank you” to you’d up and die.

      Everything from cross country trips, to concerts to cold hard cash. It’s a long term investment, and though in the short term things like Lunchables might fill your belly, they don’t do you much good in the long term, when your belly is fat or full of carcinogens.

      One day I’ll show everyone the things I’ve declined. I’m proud of each and every company I’ve ever endorsed, I don’t know a lot of mom bloggers who can say that.

      1. “Rediculous how some of you “Moms” are chomping at the bit to bring people down when you ALL and I am sure ALL of you in some way shape or form have given your kids or you yourselves have eaten processed food at some point in your lives.”

        YES. I have, and I have fed my kids, processed food. At one point I came to a realization that this is not what I want for myself or my children. I have attempted to change that. It is an ongoing and altogether difficult and frustrating challenge, but it is doable and I am proud of it. I am NOT trying to bring people down, I am trying to help other moms reach that moment of realization.

        We buy things because our kids want them or it’s what we had growing up or someone we know recommended it. We’re in a hurry. We don’t stop to think of the cumulative effect of poor food choices– especially when clever marketing has led us to believe that some of those choices are “good for you.”

        I want people to stop and read the labels. I want them to consider the types of companies they want to support with their money. (And, I suppose, with their social clout.)

        To this end, I AM engaging in conversation, even with people and companies I don’t agree with. Jessica as well– isn’t that how this discussion began?

    2. Paul, I think people can see your point as I do…but the whole Lunchable thing promoting to “educate” children is nothing less than bribery. Saying “Hey we are Lunchables…remember us…we educated your kids…remember our brand okay?” So a parent will remember and may be swayed by the brand for the sheer fact of guilt. Rather than the parent saying…hey thanks, but going to pass on your sodium laden, nutrient deficient, processed foods as a daily meal option.

      1. One of the points of my post was that Lunchables wasn’t marketing to you, moms were. Moms you are supposed to trust.

        Do you think that they really think Lunchables are a great brand? Do you think that our community is trustworthy?

        1. Personally, I am not a fan of a brand that is willing to continue to create foods that are enabling our obesity problem in this country and with our kids – rich in sodium, unnecessary chemicals, and loaded with sugar. As for community being trust worthy….I trust my gut period, I don’t trust people no farther than I can throw them. Jaded view maybe, but at least its an honest view and opinion. Trust is a gift that is earned, not passed out wouldn’t you agree? ;)

    3. Seriously if you think that by attending a party to win prizes you are “working with” a company, you are very delusional. You are just a pawn on the board….

    4. Also Paul, if #lunchables donated to the food banks yes, it would be bad and I would be disgusted by that too. The fact that someone wouldn’t care what types of food is donated to food banks as long as it’s “food”, is maddening. The problem is it isn’t food, it’s just something that fills the void and contributes to obesity and heart disease just to get started…

      And if you don’t care what types of foods get donated to food banks…it’s a fine example of kyriarchy.

      1. I work at food banks pretty regularly, and in addition to the various healthyish lunches and dinners, people donate cakes, cookies, donuts and other goodies; some are fresh, some aren’t. The people who come in have NOTHING to eat. They have nothing. That’s why they are there. I think if Oscar Meyer wanted to feed them all lunchables, how could that be bad? So you don’t want to feed your family processed foods. I don’t either. I think Lunchables are vile. But some people feel that way about the fact that I eat meat. Or that someone eats dairy with their meat. Or use caffeine or alcohol.

        I think expecting people to not eat something just because you are personally against it is a pretty good example of kyriarchy.

    5. @Paul

      The “everyone does it” line of argument is kind of pointless. There are, believe it or not, people who take great care in how they feed their families. But if someone has occasionally fed their kids processed food, that does not mean they cannot call for greater discretion in what we actively promote to other moms.

      Yes, the source of the donation *is* important.

      No one here talking about this issue, least of all Jessica, has said they are against turning a profit.

      It is entirely legitimate to question branded conversation and present an alternative point of view. Everyone is going to draw the line in a different place but it would be good if people considered these issues.

      I don’t have to approve of every company 100% to participate in or promote a genuine conversation or be excited about a large charitable contribution…but that doesn’t mean I am going to jump up and down and do handstands and blindly retweet everything I see for every company that donates .00000000000000000000000000000001% of its bottom line.

      1. Whoa.

        “It’s abuse” as in “moms shouldn’t be helping to market lunchables” or “it’s abuse” as in “moms who feed their kids lunchables are abusing their kids.”


        I’ve fed my kids lunchables (my son loves airheads and begs for the ones with the airheads in them, and sometimes I say yes). I also feed them fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grain breads and pasta, homemade sauces and eggs from our own free-range chickens. But sometimes, because I have little time or because they think its a treat, I let them have something that tastes really good to them but isn’t that good for them. Like McDonald’s. Or a lunchables. Or a donut. So I’m really curious about this “abuse” statement.

  18. This is only going to continue to be more of an issue as more brands reach out to mommy bloggers. Everyone should take some serious time and energy INVESTIGATING exactly what’s being promoted. If a woman is honestly okay with a brand, whether it’s bleach or lunch meat, fine. But I think many times women aren’t looking beyond the shininess of getting to be “part of” something.

    My head almost popped off my fucking body when Johnson and Johnson baby wash hosted a twitter party thing last month. Pure and gentle my ass.


    1. I really think they should take “Pure and Gentle” off their packaging! I was freaked out when all the information about the crap in it came out. We stick to all natural brands now..I mean I dumped some of the stuff down the drain!

  19. I am amazed that these kids are 1st graders and have NO IDEA what a fresh vegetable looks like. Ever thankful that my kids come grocery shopping with me at Whole Foods and we did an organic CSA program with a farm and my kids knew exactly what we were eating and it was a fun learning experience for them and me; spaghetti squash, acorn squash, butternut all in the fall and now beets, strawberries, broccoli, okra, basil, pomegranates, anise (fennell), I could go on and on. I am so glad my kids know their foods, know they are hormone and garbage free and would ANY day eat fresh raw foods and not prepackaged crap. Granted…cooking takes work, but anything of VALUE takes work, including good honest clean food.

  20. Agreed. Lunchables are appalling. The fact that they gear that crap towards kids and then make claims that they are healthy because there is calcium in the cheese and fiber in the crackers. What a crock.

      1. As far as trust in other moms… Some of the moms that participated in the party have lost credibility with me. I’m not perfect and I never said I didn’t give my kids “junk” occasionally. BUT I’m not tweeting #foodrevolution and whole foods, organic foods then turning around and tweeting #lunchables. When you do that, you look hypocritical and I think Jamie Oliver would agree.

  21. This is horrifying.

    I am not a perfect mom, and I kill myself trying some days. My kids have had their fair share of processed foods, but I try to limit that. Saying no to them isn’t always easy, especially when I’m stressed, rushed, and they are throwing a fit in the grocery store.

    But I keep trying. I saw the Lunchables hashtag and had the same epiphany about it (i.e. Food Revolution).

    People wonder why our kids are so obese. They don’t even know what potatoes and tomatoes look like, but jump when they see the McDonald’s logo….

  22. Wow. I had no idea this happened. I didn’t even know that a Lunchables Twitter party was on, and if it was, I wouldn’t have attended.

    Personally, I don’t think that big companies should be allowed in the schools. If Lunchables is sponsoring field trips, then how about McDonalds sponsoring sports days? M and M’s sponsoring libraries? Kids have enough marketing thrown at them without these big corporations throwing cash their way in exchange for some advertising that turns those kids into customers.

    NO WAY. My kid would NOT be going on those field trips. But then again I live in Canada, and that kind of thing doesn’t happen here.

    As a blogger, I am being more and more careful about what companies or campaigns I support. I absolutely agree that it looks very hypocritical for a blogger to be using the #foodrevolution hashtag and then be at a lunchables party as well. It looks as though bloggers can be bought, which makes me suspicious of their opinion.

    For myself, I have become tired of the prizes and giveaways, and I don’t even bother attending twitter parties or signing up for things much anymore. I don’t care to get products. Even at the 5 Minutes for Mom Ultimate Blog Party, many of the party posts were all about what prizes people wanted rather than a blurb about themselves. Gah!

    THIS blogger won’t be bought.

  23. I missed the lunchables sponsored Twitter party, but to be quite honest I cringe at 75% of sponsored parties, ex- ConAgra feeding the hungry. Eek.

    Something that has left a worst taste in my mouth is the Walmart & Pepsi commercials during Food Revolution. Absolutely TWO driving forces behind the state of Americans’ ill health.

  24. I agree about the influence doing more harm than good. I felt the same way about the #bluebox campaign which was giving away Kraft Dinner to food banks. People don’t take a few minutes to think about the fact that these companies are only doing a bit of good in order to create goodwill to facilitate doing more harm (+ earning big profits along the way). Ulterior motives are huge here, for the company and for the “influencers”.

    1. This is exactly the problem I had with this twitter party, and I think it’s sad that some can’t see past the “good cause”. I am now in the middle of knowing exactly how many bloggers felt when some of their “friends” joined the #nestlefamily campaign.

  25. I have to admit, I am totally guilty on this one. Not on encouraging moms to feed their kids lunchables, but I DID cave and buy lunchables for my kids once a week or two ago and tweeted about. I gave my full #momfail disclosure, though. It was simply a combination of overwhelmed mother, whiny children, and a huge time crunch. Am I proud? No. Do I plan to make it a regular occurrence? No.

    I have yet to see Food Revolution, but am setting my DVR right now so that I can catch it. So sad that children can’t even identify a tomato.

  26. Who is more naive – the moms who tweet about a brand to win a prize or the moms who buy into that brand because a total stranger tweeted about it? I think your point is valid – it would be great if moms only shared info on products they had researched and felt good about, but the reality is that we all have a bottom line. The sad thing to me is not that moms were tweeting with a #lunchables hashtag. It’s that suddenly they are expected to live to some high ideals because some other fool might take a tweet as an endorsement of a product. Moms on Twitter are not role models by definition, nor should they be expected to act as such. In some ways we’re saying the same thing, but I don’t think the blame belongs on the people sharing the messages, so much as those blindly believing it. When I see a product mention or a “review” (95% of which contain no opinion whatsoever), I do my own research. It’s a good way of learning about new and interesting products, but I only take endorsements from people I actually know and trust.

      1. But they are being put in the roles as spokespersons / endorsers by being paid to host these events. When they accept money to host a Twitter party for anyone — that IS an endorsement. They are being paid because of the trust others have in them…they are being paid for their influence on others.

        So, similar to others who get paid for endorsements, I would expect that they fully research the company they work with, be prepared to respond to criticism (not simply ignore it — a true spokesperson would not be trained to ignore), and should confidently defend why they chose to work with said company / brand.

  27. Word. With every marketing alignment a blogger gives their name to, by simply talking about the company and engaging in insincere crapola through their publishing channel, the blogger lowers their social capital. With every single twitter party. Every single tweet.
    The irony is they actually become worth less to a company as a result.
    I am sick and tired of bloody informercials hijacking *my* twitter stream.
    (And thanks for letting me know about the real content of lunchables.)

  28. I think everyone needs to take advertising and endorsement with a grain of salt. If there is money involved or free product or someone is benefitting, you always have to wonder if that is influencing them. I don’t buy Activia yogurt just because Jamie Lee Curtis endorses it, I don’t buy “weight loss” supplements just because Jillian Michaels endorses it, and I wouldn’t buy Lunchables just because some mom blogger I read says she likes them. I trust myself to look beyond the shiny packaging or the photo of Jillian’s fabulous abs and make a decision based on truth and not on advertising.

    I agree with Christy. I see blogger endorsements as a way to learn about new products, but the choice of whether it’s a good product for my family lies with me and only me.

  29. An excellent point, and something to keep in mind for future blogging and endorsements, even for those of us who are on the smaller scale of the blogosphere

    While one would hope that moms would be able to think for themselves and do their own research regarding products endorsed by their favorite bloggers, this is not always the case. Those who endorse and promote should keep that in the back of their minds when writing, not just about something like Lunchables, but about a lot of different facets of parenting and child-rearing.

    Thanks for the food for thought, no pun intended.

  30. And you know, you can’t force someone else to have the same views as you. Obviously the moms on this blog feel strongly about nutrition and processed foods. Other moms may have no problem with feeding their kids Lunchables. I worked with Kraft Food last summer on a two week meal planner program. Yes, Kraft makes a lot of processed junk that I don’t buy, but they make other products that I do like, and I liked the sound of the program. I was very honest about how I thought they could improve it, and also very transparent about the fact that I was compensated for my involvement, but not paid for my opinions. Just because someone *else* has a problem with Kraft wouldn’t keep me from participating.

      1. Athenos cheeses, their gingersnaps are great for thicking gravy in sour beef (a dish historically prepared in my city), Oreos (yes they are sugary, but they are cookies and they’re not supposed to be good for you), Maxwell House coffee, cream cheese, and yes, blue box mac and cheese for the occassional comfort food meal when I’m too tired to make my own from scratch.

        1. I’ll give you the cream cheese, but my kids prefer Joe’s O’s.

          Since partially hydrogenated oils are known carcinogens, I’m good with my decision to not allow Oreos in the house.

          It’s not about a calorie count, it’s a chemical count.

          1. Also, the program was about planning for and shopping once for enough ingredients to make 2 weeks worth of home cooked meals. And since so many families I know eat out all the time (one of my coworkers doesn’t even know how to make real mashed potatoes) I thought it was a worthy cause to get people out of the fast food place and into the kitchen, not only to cook better food, but to spend time together as a family. And I was very honest when I said, “I skipped this recommended ingredient and subbed this healthier one instead.” Kraft apparently had no problem with it.

            Anyway, I feel like money is behind everything. I recently saw a giveaway for an environmentally friendly weed killer. So that blogger was getting kudos for aligning herself with a company that cares about not putting chemicals into the environment….but the company also charges a crazy amount of money for their product and it’s a lot cheaper just to use vinegar in a spray bottle to kill weeds. (It really works. We’ve used it two years in a row.)

            On another site, a blogger was giving away coupons for free packages of organic pre-rinsed quinoa. I’ve seen that product at Target and it cost ELEVEN dollars for a tiny package. Why? Because it’s a convenience product. It’s cheaper to buy the other kind of quinoa and spend the 3o seconds to rinse it yourself.

    1. This reminds me of something. When I was a freshman in college (a 100% business-focused school), I babysat for the girls of a professor. She worked her way up very quickly within Kraft, and was a top executive by the time she had her first baby and then quit to stay home with them and teach part-time at the college. She was so proud of her career there. Funnily enough, there was not a single Kraft item in her home. Her girls never ate anything but organic foods/brands.

      I remember asking her about it, and she revealed some things. Like how certain diet salad dressings gave some kids rashes on their mouths. I wasn’t very nutritionally aware at that time but it stuck with me.

  31. I love this revolution! It is the answer to the core problem in America. Thanks for writing about it. I tweeted it to my followers too.

    p.s. There is a Gottlieb street in Baton Rouge, LA.

  32. @Kayris I didn’t know that Oreos removed the partially hydrogenated oils. They’ve been off my grocery list for 12 years now (pregnancy made me a better shopper).

    I don’t begrudge anyone the opportunity to make a living. I’m just hoping that the women who I consider to be my peers will realize that they are in incredible positions to make great and sweeping changes, and I fear that they are missing that.

  33. Yes, Kraft was sued, I think it was in 2003 (?) and even though the lawsuit was dimissed, the end result was they overhauled a lot of their products and took the trans fat out of Oreos.

  34. @Kayris @jessicagottlieb I had to check. I applaud nabisco for getting rid of the trans fats. Too bad they forgot about the high fructose corn syrup.

  35. We all make choices about who we work with, and why.

    While I wouldn’t feed my kids Lunchables (they don’t even know what they are), and they beg instead for things like apples at the store, I don’t begrudge anyone for making their own choices.

    Instead I own my own choices, saying no to things that aren’t a good fit, and yes to causes and brands I believe in. Will people find fault with that? I assume they will, but unless I’m unsure of my decision this kind of conversation doesn’t bother me at all.

  36. Yesterday I spent most of the day at the Earth Day Celebration in Santa Monica and became even more determined to reduce the purchase and use of plastics. It’s tough when we don’t demand that the manufacturers of our foods and items we purchase don’t reduce the use of plastics (which are petroleum based). In Europe shoppers started taking the plastic wrappings and packagings off the items they were purchasing and leaving it at the stores. Imagine if we did this – what message that would send??

    Did you know that OUR plastic garbage (is double the size of the state of Texas) is floating and slowly melting in to the oceans north of Hawaii being absorbed by the living creatures in the sea?
    ( This is truly appalling to have this biggest landfill in the Pacific ocean and guess what – effecting our food supply! OH and now they’ve found another patch floating in the Atlantic ocean so we’re surrounded.

    It was heart breaking to see that kids did not know what vegetables were, the next lesson is to know that bread, corn and potatoes with meat at a meal is not the combination and so on. Lots of education to help our children learn how to eat good clean foods is in order.

    Personally, I have always hated drinking out of plastic anything, I also never liked or purchased processed meats and cheeses wrapped in plastics. I will agree that convenience is what is at the root of our lifestyle – it’s what’s convenient, easy and fast. In business, we look for ways to be more efficient to save time and money, but this is different, it’s our lives, our families, our children. If we planned our meals, shopped smartly (coupons, local farmers) and cooked ahead, we would save money. It doesn’t have to cost more if we took the time. How many of us have gone to a farmers market with our kids? It’s outdoors, fresh air, you get to meet your local farmers and every farmers market I’ve ever gone to I’ve found some amazing quality foods AND they were less expensive than the grocery store and not packaged in plastics.

    When I comes down to it, if we as mothers continue to talk out of both sides of our Tweet Deck, tweeting for an hour about what we pack our kids for field trips so we can get a chance to win $10 worth of chemically altered foods for our kids while endorsing a program like the Food Revolution at the same time; we lose our credibility and it makes all of us look cheap and easy.

  37. Sorry I just have to add something! I am so so proud of myself and my children. My 1 and 2 year old ask for grapes, blueberries, strawberries, and oranges when we go to the grocery store. It makes my heart swell up 100x its normal size it feels like! I also love when people tell me great job mama! I HATE when people tell me I am LUCKY my kids will eat what they eat. How the fuck am I lucky?! I worked very very hard to get them to eat these things, look for deals on good meats, and putting meals together for my kids. It makes my heart break to see other parents that don’t care, or just don’t know for that matter. I love what Jamie Oliver is doing! Kudos to him. We need more people like him to be advocates for children. Some kids only source of food when they eat at school…shouldn’t we really make it count?
    I was thinking about all of this during our trip to the farmers market today..haha.

  38. I’m sorry this topic has to be discussed. Isn’t it sad that some of us are feeding out kids this stuff? And still can come over here and argue towards it?!?!?!

    Thanks for sharing, I am a big on healthy eating, and although we all cheat and have a little extra dessert, Lunchables or most things that come from a box are not good for my kids.

  39. Word of mouth marketing is powerful. That’s why companies contact bloggers to review their products, throw twitter parties and the like. They know if one mom blogger gives their product a one paragraph review, hundreds potentially thousands will see that review and keep it in mind when purchasing products for themselves. They know that in a twitter party thousands are going to see their brand name over and over in the course of an hour.

    For an hour last night many health conscious mom bloggers endorsed #lunchables in their tweet stream. Even if they don’t buy that product for themselves or their children they endorsed it all their tweets for that hour. Hundreds of their followers saw those tweets and probably wondered why someone who also tweets #FoodRevolution would endorse #lunchables.

    Those that won the prizes will also be endorsing the Luncable brand as they cash in those coupons and use those flip cams in public (they are Lunchables Flip Cams). Anyone that knows these moms or reads their blogs is going to question their motives and those writers will lose some sort credibility imo. I mean how can you believe what they say when one minute they say eat whole foods then the next they pull out a Lunchables Flip Cam to record their next vlog.

    The fact that a company is doing something “good” does not negate all the other things that company is doing. I would bet money those classrooms that get free field trips will also get a free “lunch”. I wonder those locations that are offering free admissions, what is Oscar Meyer going to be doing. I bet not sitting on the sidelines. There will likely be banners and other paraphernalia given out with those “free” admissions. And if you think that won’t have any effect on the children that will be participating (aside from the health risks of eating that stuff) you are deluding yourself. Those kids will be begging for lunchables the next time mom or dad takes them to the grocery store.

    Marketing is powerful. That’s why we, as moms and bloggers must be careful who we endorse.

  40. My oldest recently asked for this in his lunch, apparently they are popular & eaten by some of kids at his small school that he sits with. He wants to fit in, even though he likes the food he eats at lunch. Peer pressure is HUGE for kids & parents often give into for their kids because of the fears of their kid not fitting it. I get that fear, but I’m not willing to give in to it for a lunchable. My husband & explained why we don’t buy them for health & cost reasons. We don’t ban in our home very often, we don’t always eat the perfect items, but we do state what we will choose to spend our money on & why. Lunchables are not part of of what we will spend our money on, period. It’s not easy because he wants to have what he perceived everyone else as having (even though it’s NOT everyone) but it’s worth it to not fill his body with that sodium laced garbage daily. The amount of sodium in a ham & cheese Lunchable is over 70% the allotted amount for an ADULT. Ugh, it’s sick.

    I also spit my drink out when I saw your tweet Jessica about food revolution & this twitter party. I even read it to my husband who said it was right on.

  41. Jessica, thank you for all you do to promote healthy, non-toxic living. We both know I agree with you 100% on that.(Yes, I am the Cathy from and early comment) This post has really opened my eyes and I actually appreciate it. So, thanks for that, even if we have different approaches. :)

  42. Could that timing been more comical and tragic?

    I always admit that I have been known to make really bad shopping decisions when pushed for time and efficiency, but most of the time, we eat a pretty whole diet. I lived downstairs from a macrobiologist in Marin for a few years. I learned to make meals with quinoa and millet and vegetables I didn’t even know existed. Once you eat like that, your body rejects prefab food. Why? Because we’re not meant to eat crap!

    Thanks for the crusade. Smack my knuckles whenever you see me buying that stuff, okay? There is always time to eat better.

  43. Moms who want to feed their children food in a box will feed their children food in a box whether a Twitterer promtes the brand or not. Let’s give a little credit to the fact that many moms have brains of their own and do use 5 minutes to prepare whole food for their family. As for the moms who organize these “parties” – how are they different from any person who works as a marketer? It’s a day’s work!! Are we stupid enough to put our complete trust in any marketer/advertiser? The moms or marketers who are smart enough to subsidize their family’s income by conducting Twitter parties are just that – marketers. Let’s not pretend they are anything more than that and let’s give ourselves a little more credit than to think that just because it’s marketed via a Twitter party, that we have to buy into it.

    Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

  44. That video is appalling. I’m SO glad Jamie Oliver is on the case. We need more educators/influencers like him (and you). I don’t understand “Lunchables,” or how one could market such a product to kids/parents in good conscience. It’s exactly the opposite direction we need to be going in. There IS a food revolution happening — at the level of the consumer (more and more every day, but a long way to go).

    For things like Lunchables, above all, I blame the marketers, and the corporations who value their bottom line over our children’s health, who will take advantage of trusting parents (who absolutely need to start thinking critically about these things). I have so many friends who just trust and/or “don’t care” about processed food, and I don’t understand — so much is at stake.

  45. I think we can all agree Mommyhood is HARD. Having said that, I think we can all see why mommy bloggers seem like the second coming: a network of seasoned moms there to help navigate mommyhood and keep us rookies from making silly mistakes.
    I used to have a blanket level of trust for the mommy bloggers who looked like they had their sh*t together.
    This Twitter party in particular helped open my eyes.
    On a side note, I was so astonished by the party that I apparently committed a Twitter party foul. I sent 2 tweets with the #lunchables hashtag that were pleas to sign Jamie Oliver’s food petition. I was then scolede by the host for spamming the hast tag. Then I was called riff raff in a subsequent tweet. Oh well :)

    1. I am not entirely anti-twitter party, if done in a real conversation-based way, but people really need to learn that on-topic conversation, even if it does not toe the party line, is NOT spam. No one “owns” a hashtag and Twitter is a public forum. And someone promoting healthy eating is certainly not “riff-raff”. I wasn’t online during this party so I don’t know much about how it was structured…but I am sorry to hear you were treated that way.

  46. For the record, I don’t have kids. I do, however, have nieces, nephews and a cavalcade of wonderful children from friends in my life – none of whom, I am pleased to report, are subjected to the type of poison you mention. The fact that there are people so deeply seduced in this manner – to the detriment and even the danger of their children … I’m appalled.

    Hell, I have pets, and the minute I found out about pet foods that weren’t good for my dog and cat, I stopped buying them – even when the poisoned brands tried giving me discounts and free stuff.

  47. A Lunchables twitter party? I’m sorry, but it’s just embarrassing. I’m with you, Jessica. Mommy bloggers, we’ve got to do better if we want to maintain any credibility.

  48. Jessica, what is it about you? I work full time and travels for business and in general let other people care for my kids when I can NOT because I need to. I feed my kids processed food. I would say more than 50% of their meals are processed food. I should have steered away from your blog really. What is it about you that I cannot help but like you? There is this X factor I can’t quite figure out yet. That when your post is supposed to get me all riled up, and offended and defensive, I read it, and actually nodded my head!

  49. Jessica, I’m a mom of a kid who can’t have artificial dyes because of the behavioral problems they cause. So I get the whole food revolution thing and I believe in a more natural diet.

    But do we get the “attract more flies with honey” thing?

    Maybe there are large groups of people who are inspired to change by being negatively judged and made to feel inferior, but I haven’t met them yet.

  50. You are always to the point, Jessica, and while I do not always agree with you, I agree with your assertion that women should be careful about who they affiliate with.

    That said, I’ve seen moms recommending lunchables to other moms on Facebook with no compensation provided–some people are simply unaware. I worked with the poor for a couple of years and children would sometimes pass out from poor nutrition. It’s a worry when you are affluent enough to worry about it. Yes, some are more aware and don’t care, but I dont’ think shaming them will change their behavior.

  51. Mommy bloggers, we’ve got to do better if we want to maintain any credibility.

    Let’s not take ourselves too seriously. We’re parents. Sometimes we swing for the fences and strike out, sometimes we hit a home run.

    1. Moms who write blogs of a certain readership are being lured by corporations to shill their wares – so it’s more than just “being parents”. Bloggers are a huge media influence right now, some of us getting pitches in our inbox all day long. I was just at a social media event speaking to these very issues, and companies are chomping at the bit for all of this free publicity. It is a position of influence, and pimping Lunchables is not a good use of that power.

  52. I’m continually surprised by the lack of knowledge around food (real food that is). I raised a few eyebrows with my whole attitude of ‘my baby is not eating refined sugar’ stance. And a few people told me ‘it’s impossible to avoid’. Well, it’s not impossible to avoid. It just means that sometimes you’re cooking lunch when you’d rather be napping. My toddlers diet isn’t perfect, but I think it’s far better to aim high.

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