MICHAELA GIBSON MORRIS: Making healthy food cool goes extreme on TV

Getting kids to eat healthy foods is generally high on the mom to-do list. In the 1950s, moms threatened to send leftovers to starving kids in China. Now we worry about childhood obesity.
My kids generally need only a little nudge – threat of no dessert – to make the healthy stuff on their plates disappear. They’ll choose McDonald’s and candy if it’s an option, but they don’t whine, too much, if it’s not on the menu.
My 8-year-old likes fruits and vegetables and will seek out apples on her own. My 5-year-old turns up his nose at fruit, but likes a set array of veggies.
But I know kids and adults who avoid fruits and veggies like the plague. As a mom and a health reporter I can appreciate efforts to get folks to eat more stuff that’s good for them and not likely to add to their waistlines.
So I got tickled late last week when a national wire story popped up about Extreme Baby Carrots.
Apparently, 50 carrot producers have teamed up to turn baby carrots into a brand. They’re getting help from the same folks who brought us all those freaky Burger King and Old Navy ads.
So over the next couple of years, baby carrots will have a marketing campaign that, at least in part, looks more like Mountain Dew than Farmer Brown. They have ads featuring Extreme Carrot Dude, a scantily clad babe and freaky blue-haired costumed chick.
The idea is part of what makes junk food so appealing to us is all the sophisticated advertising that keeps it on our minds.
Personally, I found it all over-the-top funny. Come on, is this really necessary? Is anyone going to buy into this?
Actually, there are people at my house that might. My kids are quite sensitive to advertising. They take it a step beyond “Look, Mom, I want that toy.” They’ve pitched me on the need for a perfect brownie pan and a touch toothpaste dispenser.
It’s not just the kids, either. My husband and father-in-law were inexplicably pulled to Red Lobster after watching football games that featured lots of shrimp feast ads last year.
Now baby carrots are already quite popular at my house. They are currently the healthy school snack of choice for my little man, who is violently opposed to almost all fruit.
I keep hoping that watching the rest of us enjoy blueberries, apples and strawberries will encourage him to change his mind.
Maybe Bungee Blueberry Boy could get him to change his mind. But then again, he might just use him for target practice.

Michaela Gibson Morris is a Daily Journal staff writer and mother of two. Contact her at (662) 678-1599 or michaela.morris@djournal.com.

Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

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