Last week I read this article about 3-D printers being developed and approved for use with food. My first thought was, “Those interlocking sugar cubes sure look pretty neat.”
But as I read on, I found something that bothered me:
In the end, Kucsma hopes the device will not only speed up home cooking but also get kids more interested in healthful foods.
“I have two young kids,” she tells The Salt. “They are suspicious of anything green on the plate. They wouldn’t touch a spinach quiche I made” — until she printed out the dish in the shape of a dinosaur and a butterfly.
“They actually ate every single one of the dinosaur quiches,” Kucsma says. “I couldn’t believe it. It was the exact same recipe. It was just making it fun for kids so they’d try new foods.”
My kneejerk reaction was, “NO! We need to get kids excited about REAL food! Not fake food!”
I thought about it for a while and started to wonder why I thought it was different than putting beets in brownies and asking kids to guess the secret ingredient (which I have done). Either method will trick kids into eating a vegetable this time, but don’t actually teach kids to eat beets and spinach.
I believe that the best way to help young people (or any people!) develop healthy eating habits is to show them just how cool fruits and vegetables are. A spinach plant starts out as a tiny seed, and after being buried in dirt and watered, sprouts into a living thing. That living thing makes leaves that capture energy from the sun (from billions of miles away!) and roots that pull nutrients from the soil (from dirt!) and turn those things into energy that human bodies can use to function. If I tried to subsist on sunlight and earth, I wouldn’t make it very far; but a humble spinach plant, and others like it, make it possible for me to be alive.
There’s no doubt that dinosaurs were incredible organisms. But getting kids to eat spinach because it is shaped like a dinosaur will not make them more likely to eat spinach later in their lives. It will make them more likely to eat things shaped like dinosaurs. Getting them involved in the really, really awesome process that is a tiny seed becoming an edible spinach leaf WILL help them choose to eat spinach in their lives. Because they’ve learned that spinach, like a dinosaur, is a really incredible organism.