Kid Food: The Challenge of Feeding Children in a Highly Processed World



Most parents start out wanting to raise healthy eaters. Then the world intervenes.

In Kid Food, nationally recognized writer and food advocate Bettina Elias Siegel explores one of the fundamental challenges of modern parenting: trying to raise healthy eaters in a society intent on pushing children in the opposite direction. Siegel dives deep into the many influences that make feeding children healthfully so difficult-from the prevailing belief that kids will only eat highly processed "kid food" to the near-constant barrage of "special treats."

Written in the same engaging, relatable voice that has made Siegel's web site The Lunch Tray a trusted resource for almost a decade, Kid Food combines original reporting with the hard-won experiences of a mom to give parents a deeper understanding of the most common obstacles to feeding children well:

- How the notion of "picky eating" undermines kids' diets from an early age-and how parents' anxieties about pickiness are stoked and exploited by industry marketing

- Why school meals can still look like fast food, even after well-publicized federal reforms

- Fact-twisting nutrition claims on grocery products, including how statements like "made with real fruit" can actually mean a product is less healthy

- The aggressive marketing of junk food to even the youngest children, often through sophisticated digital techniques meant to bypass parents' oversight

- Children's menus that teach kids all the wrong lessons about what "their" food looks like

- The troubling ways adults exploit kids' love of junk food-including to cover shortfalls in school budgets, control classroom behavior, and secure children's love

With expert advice, time-tested advocacy tips, and a trove of useful resources, Kid Food gives parents both the knowledge and the tools to navigate their children's unhealthy food landscape-and change it for the better.

Product Details

$24.95  $22.95
Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date
November 01, 2019
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

BETTINA ELIAS SIEGEL is a nationally recognized writer and advocate on issues relating to children and food policy. Her reporting and opinion pieces have appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, the Houston Chronicle, and Civil Eats, as well as her own widely read blog, The Lunch Tray. She frequently appears or is quoted in national media, including Today, ABC World News Tonight, NBC Nightly News, NPR, The Doctors, the Washington Post, The New Yorker, and Parents. In 2015, Family Circle named Siegel one of the country's "20 Most Influential Moms," and she is one of the most successful petitioners in's history. A graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School, Siegel lives in Houston with her husband and two children.


"One of the Best Books of 2019 (So Far)" -- Real Simple

"A blueprint for how to raise healthy eaters in a fast-food culture" -- New York Times

"Powerful, encouraging advocacy . . . . KID FOOD equips parents with the wisdom and strategies they'll need to raise-and feed-healthier kids." -- Foreword Reviews

"The book shines a critical light on numerous practices . . . Frustrated parents will find motivation and comfort in Siegel's messages that, collectively, society can make progress in the age-old parental battle against picky eaters and create a healthier food environment for everyone." -- Publishers Weekly

"A fascinating look at the industry of children's food and a practical guide for parent's seeking to teach their children how to eat healthfully." -- Library Journal

"Everybody who has children should read Kid Food. And everyone who doesn't should read it, too. Siegel is thoughtful, practical, and fearless-a combination that should worry the food companies now threatening the health of all Americans." -- Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation

"With meticulous research and easy, conversational prose, Siegel makes an irrefutable case for changing the broken food system that feeds our children." -- Alice Waters, owner of Chez Panisse and founder of the Edible Schoolyard Project

"Siegel is a leader and a veteran in the movement to feed our kids well, and Kid Food is a primer on what we'll need to do to get that done." -- Mark Bittman, author of How to Cook Everything and editor-in-chief of Heated

"Siegel does more than explain why 'carnival food' is now the everyday norm; she lays out the specific ways to approach food more positively at home-and in the larger community-to foster change." -- Ellie Krieger, cookbook author and host of Ellie's Real Good Food

"Gorgeously written, heartfelt, and deeply compelling. Everyone who cares about kids must read Bettina Siegel's fabulous Kid Food." -- Marion Nestle, NYU professor and author of Soda Politics

"Fascinating and enlightening. I will never look at a kid's menu or baby food pouch the same way again-and I'm infinitely grateful for it." -- Gail Simmons, food expert, Top Chef judge, and author of Bringing It Home

"Kid Food will help you see how the Food Giants have co-opted our eating habits, and how changing the way kids eat is our best shot at leveling the playing field." -- Michael Moss, author of Salt Sugar Fat

"Fascinating and funny. A must-read for anyone who cares about our children's future." -- Karen Le Billon, author of French Kids Eat Everything