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Michael Pollan brings healthy-food message to kids

Michael Pollan Omnivore's Dilemma Young Readers EditionThe Omnivore's Dilemma: The Secrets Behind What You Eat (Young Readers Edition) hits shelves next week. With it, Pollan hopes to reach a whole new generation of eaters with the same compelling naratives and statistics in the original book—only in a more kid-friendly format. "I think that if were are going to change this food system and get right with our eating in this country it's going to involve kids eating in a different way, learning more about their food choices, exercising personal responsibility from a position of knowledge rather than all the marketing illusion that’s around," he said recently in my interview with him about the book. We talked about how to get kids on board with healthy, eco-friendly eating; if food issues have changed since the much-loved grown-up version of Omnivore's Dilemma came out; and about Pollan's next big project (yes, it has to do with food!).

DL: As a parent, how do you instill healthy food values in your kids without making them totally neurotic or rebellious?

MP: I think the first thing you do is you think long and hard about what you keep in your house. If you have soda around your house you are going to have issues about soda. If you don’t have soda in your house, it’s not going to be an issue; its just going to be a special-occasion treat that happens other places. So, what’s in your pantry is the first thing and, as parents, that is where your power lies. You are up against a very powerful culture that is sending your kids all sorts of messages that they should make all sorts of choices, but you have the final say about what happens in your house.

DL: Where do you personally draw the line?

MP: Soda. There’s no soda in our house. That’s a really simple line and everybody gets that. Soda is liquid candy, it has no nutritional value whatsoever. There is a place for it but if you have it in the house, kids are going to drink too much of it. It is engineered to be very appealing to them and sugar is in its way habit-forming, so why bring that temptation into the house. It’s already widespread enough in the culture.

[Go to the rest of the interview.]

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