Oh, I’m sorry… does that title come across as a little extreme to you? Well, it’s not. Did you know the CDC is predicting that 1 in 3 Americans will have Diabetes by 2050?!?! That is freaking terrifying. Over the last month or so, I have been tediously sewing felt food by hand for Munchie, Sweet Cheeks, and any other kiddo that comes over to play. After spending an HOUR sewing together a slice of bread, I figured it was time to pack up and just invest in some manufactured play food.
I began my search with some basic criteria. I wanted to find healthy foods (so eventually, we can work together and learn how to create well-rounded, healthy meals), decent quality, and sizes that were somewhat proportionate to one another (a whole roasted chicken is not the same size or smaller than an apple).
First stop – IKEA. Their selection of felt food offers a healthy variety and we already own their felt vegetables, so I know they are of good quality. Unfortunately, the fruit basket is nearly impossible to find and there is a serious lack of protein options. (But, I did manage to find some AWESOME pots, pans, and tools for our little kitchen.)
Second stop – Dancing Bear. They offer a decent selection of Hape felt and wooden foods and play kitchen accessories. I also learned they have a birthday registry, where kids walk around with a box and fill it with the items they want. (Umm… after already sending out a birthday invite that specifically requested presence, not presents.) The price is a little more than I was looking to spend… but the foods are healthy, the quality is lovely, and the foods are proportionate.
Third stop – Walmart (because we needed allergy meds). The selection was disappointing… the quality was almost humorous, and the proportions? I saw a pineapple smaller than a strawberry. SKIP! (Whatever happened to the super awesome Little Tikes kitchen stuff that we grew up with?!?)
Fourth stop – Toys R Us. Their online selection was half decent… but in store?!?! I was appalled. I have literally NEVER been so enraged by the toys I saw on a shelf until Friday afternoon… and I felt a little silly… because… who gets this passionate about pretend food for their kid? I DO. I had two choices. On one side of the store, I could spend a fortune on Melissa and Doug foods that, for the most part, fit my criteria… but I had read the reviews on these. They are heavy and dent floors, kitchens, little pots and pans, etc… so, no. And the other side of the store? You can get pretend processed foods, junk food, or a giant multi-pack that includes both… with a few TINY fruits and veggies tossed in. Awesome… heart attacks and diabetes in a box. (Over half the food was either fried, dessert, or some other unhealthy junk food.) Also… WHY are there ONLY PINK picnic baskets and tea sets? (Angry feminist side came out, too.)
I got home, turned to Amazon, and realized that BUYING healthy, decent quality food for Munchie’s imaginative play kitchen would cost more than a month of organic produce… so I’m back to stitching felt together… to promote healthy food choices among the kids I love so very very much. Cheaper. Healthier. Full of LOVE.
Note: I’m not trying to condemn parents who expose their kids to unhealthy pretend (or real) foods… but I do encourage you to be cognizant of what your children are playing with (and consuming), discuss nutrition, provide healthy food choices in your home during snack and meal times, etc. (Heck, I made a felt hot dog and we don’t even buy hot dogs anymore because of the nitrates. I’m not going to talk to my toddler about nitrates… but I will surely talk about other foods we can grill, like chicken, shrimp, and steak… which I will eventually sew… but I started with the easy stuff.)