I saw this Nature’s Path granola commercial today while I was watching TV on the treadmill at the Y. It kind of made me want to vomit, and as I’ve stewed on it I’ve gotten more and more disgusted with it.
It’s a scene of a couple eating breakfast (granola). Their teenage son comes in and grabs the cereal box and pours the cereal right into his mouth. The Dad says ‘There’s milk you know’, and the son grabs the milk carton and drinks out of it. The Dad shakes his head and asks ‘Where did we go wrong?’. The Mom replies ‘He’s eating organic. We did good.’
The message here is crystal clear: feeding your kids organic makes you a good parent. This is an attitude that is rampant in diet culture. How many times have you seen someone post something like this posted somewhere:
“I was at the grocery store this morning with my kids and there was a mom with two little children in line behind me. Her cart was full of nothing but processed junk. Her poor children are missing out on so much, and they have no idea! My heart is just breaking for them!”
While the people who post things like this present their feelings as concern for the poor little children, what their words actually belie is an elitist and arrogant attitude. The message they are really sending is “look at what a GOOD parent I am and what a BAD parent that other mom is. I am better than her”. It’s incredibly obnoxious, and a really bad example to set for their own children.
Eating the ‘right’ way (organic, clean, paleo, vegan, whatever the diet du jour is) is equated with moral superiority. This isn’t a healthy way of thinking about food. It’s actually disordered. A person with an eating disorder has tied their identity to their food choices. When they eat the right way they are good. When they eat the wrong way they are bad. Fixating on what other people eat is also disordered, as is judging a person good or bad based on their food choices. This is too much power and morality associated with food choices.
This commercial is offensive to me because it is normalizing the attitude that feeding your kids ‘right’ makes you a better parent than people who feed their kids ‘wrong’. It’s normalizing the association of morality with food choices. The subtext of the commercial is that people who don’t feed their kids organic are ‘doing it wrong’, or are morally inferior parents. This is disordered thinking.
It’s also incredibly elitist. Not everyone has the option of feeding their children organic, but this commercial sends a quiet message that it’s ok to judge those who can’t afford or don’t have access. That if you have the resources to afford organic and the access, you are a better parent. Buying organic makes you good.
And that is ABSURD. There are many, many ways to be a good parent – buying organic is not one of them. There are plenty of good parents who feed their kids conventionally produced food. There are good parents who take their kids to McDonalds. Having the resources and access to feed your kids organic means…you have the resources and access to feed your kids organic. That’s all. Congratulations. You are fortunate. Very fortunate. Being fortunate does not make you better, though.
And that’s why I find this commercial offensive. Not only does it promote and normalize disordered thinking, it also feeds into elitist attitudes and fuels the mommy wars. All that in one commercial? Yes. I don’t think I’ll be buying much Nature’s Path in the future.