A lively story of raising a child to enjoy real food in a processed world, and the importance of maintaining healthy food cultures
Why is it so easy to find sugary cereals and dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets in a grocery store, but so hard to shop for nutritious, simple food for our children? If you’ve ever wondered this, you’re not alone. But it might surprise you to learn that this isn’t just an American problem.
Packaged snacks and junk foods are displacing natural, home-cooked meals throughout the world—even in Italy, a place we tend to associate with a healthy Mediterranean diet. Italian children traditionally sat at the table with the adults and ate everything from anchovies to artichokes. Parents passed a love of seasonal, regional foods down to their children, and this generational appreciation of good food turned Italy into the world culinary capital we’ve come to know today.
When Jeannie Marshall moved from Canada to Rome, she found the healthy food culture she expected. However, she was also amazed to find processed foods aggressively advertised and junk food on every corner. While determined to raise her son on a traditional Italian diet, Marshall sets out to discover how even a food tradition as entrenched as Italy’s can be greatly eroded or even lost in a single generation. She takes readers on a journey through the processed-food and marketing industries that are re-manufacturing our children’s diets, while also celebrating the pleasures of real food as she walks us through Roman street markets, gathering local ingredients from farmers and butchers.
At once an exploration of the US food industry’s global reach and a story of finding the best way to feed her child, The Lost Art of Feeding Kids examines not only the role that big food companies play in forming children’s tastes, and the impact that has on their health, but also how parents and communities can push back to create a culture that puts our kids’ health and happiness ahead of the interests of the food industry.
“Marshall makes a compelling case for why families everywhere should return to the old-fashioned Italian approach to food.”
“Marshall’s clear, direct book ably captures the frustrations of trying to find the healthiest path and inspiring kids to do the same.”
“[Marshall's] point that parents need to think about the future when feeding their kids is an important one.”
“Marshall...writes passionately about the dangers posed by processed foods—not just to our children’s health but to our way of life, our human attachment to the 'ordinary happiness' of meals cooked at home from real foods.”
“Engaging . . . admirably well-researched . . . a well-timed eye-opener.”
—Chris Nuttal-Smith, The Globe and Mail
“The Lost Art of Feeding Kids is about teaching kids how to appreciate real food but also about how globalization is changing the way the world eats. In this beautifully written book about what needs to be done to preserve food culture in Italy and elsewhere, Marshall makes the political personal as she explains how she is teaching her son to enjoy the pleasures of eating food prepared, cooked, and lovingly shared by friends and family.”
—Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University and author of Food Politics and What to Eat
“The book is a marvelous read because the story is so deceptively simple: one family’s experience of Italian food (with luscious, lingering descriptions of fresh produce and oh-so-satisfying meals). But this is much more than a personal story (fascinating as it is). Marshall also discusses food marketing, nutrition policy, and the food industry—using examples from around the world. Her personal story is thus placed in a broader context; the book is both informative yet accessibly written (not an easy task!).”
—Karen Le Billon, author of French Kids Eat Everything
“An illuminating personal account of a journey that we all need to take, from the product in a box back to real food. Jeannie Marshall shows that parents know better than corporations what’s good for kids, and how solving the nutrition and obesity crisis will nourish generations to come.”
—Theresa Albert, registered nutritionist and author of Ace Your Health: 52 Ways to Stack Your Deck
“A game-changer. Part manifesto, part family story, it’s about the disappearance of ‘real food,’ as the title suggests, but more than anything, it’s about the value of ‘food culture’ in ensuring a healthy and sustainable food system for kids and adults alike. Anyone with an interest in children and food (parents, teachers, activists, educators) or the politics of the food system should run out and get it now. Jeannie’s easy-to-read style and chilling, clear-eyed marshalling of the facts makes it a standout among food books.”
—Andrea Curtis, author of What’s for Lunch? How Schoolchildren Eat Around the World and coauthor of The Stop: How the Fight for Good Food Transformed a Community and Inspired a Movement