What should your 2- to 5-year-old eat, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture? Beats me, because its website seems to have been put together by 2- to 5-year-olds, and when I tried to generate a custom pyramid for my 4-year-old daughter, all I got was “Could not download Redirect.aspx.” Maybe it will work better for you: Food Pyramid for Preschoolers
I’m having a hard time understanding who this material is geared toward, other than fans of Comic Sans. According to the Chicago Tribune, “The new MyPyramid for Preschoolers is intended to help parents make better food choices for preschool children, aged 2 to 5 years—a critical time when food habits and taste preferences are established.”
Think about your kids or about yourself. Most eaters age 2 to 5 are as picky as they’re ever going to get: pickier than 1-year-olds, 8-year-olds, senior citizens, whatever. The critical time when food habits and taste preferences are established, it seems to me, is somewhere in the range of age 16 to 21, when people move out of their parents’ house, take up vegetarianism, go off-campus for lunch at ethnic restaurants, and so on.
But it’s an idea worse than dumb; it’s dangerous. My daughter eats, for the most part, like a typical 4-year-old. She loves hot dogs and plain hamburgers, sweets of all kinds, teriyaki chicken with rice, salami, potstickers. With few exceptions (bok choy in the potstickers), she’s not interested in vegetables. She is energetic, alert, and growing steadily.
What if I started worrying that I was missing out on this critical window for food habits? Well, we’d argue a lot. I’d dream up clever tactics to make sure she eats some broccoli before it’s too late. We’d miss out the joy of sharing good food.
Not that I’m criticizing the Food Pyramid for Preschoolers, since I haven’t seen it. Maybe it has a potstickers group, a teriyaki chicken group, a hot dog group, and an ice cream group.
About the author: Matthew Amster-Burton lives in Seattle. His work appears frequently in the Seattle Times and Seattle magazine. He also maintains the blog Roots and Grubs. His favorite food is pad Thai.