In a last-ditch effort to dissuade millions of American children from a diet of Funyuns and unadulterated corn syrup, the U.S. Department of Agriculture appears to have given up on trying to reach them through their parents. (Cut to rush-hour scene of a bus full of adults gnawing on McRib sandwiches, in unison.)

“Grandparents Help Kids Develop Good Eating Habits,” a blog post by USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion nutritionist Trish Britten, dares to make the suggestion that The Greatest Generation take responsibility for introducing children to fresh fruits and vegetables:

Take your grandchildren shopping at a farmer’s market and the grocery store. Talk about the choices you are making — choosing the juicier oranges or the fresher vegetables. Help them learn cooking skills, which will benefit them throughout their lives.

While recent CDC data showed a marked drop in obesity rates for very young children*, there are still a number of health-related red flags indicating that American kids might be in need of some guidance in the dietary department. Just this weekend, the Texas Children’s Pediatrics Associates clinics presented a study at the American College of Cardiology’s 63rd Annual Scientific Session that showed more than a third of its subjects between the ages of 9 and 11 have borderline or high cholesterol levels.

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Britten’s suggestions range from helpful (show your grandchild what a piece of fresh broccoli looks like!) to instructive (teach him that food production doesn’t magically occur in the microwave!) to impossible to take seriously (“Hugs are much better than sweet treats!”) Overall, the child-rearing suggestions are fairly benign. Nonetheless, irate grandparents and right-wing media outlets across the country have taken pointed offense to them, accusing Big Government of pushing into the holy grandparent-and-child relationship.

The Washington Free Beacon, for example, takes issue with Britten’s proposed “government bedtime stories,” otherwise known as government-published nutritional guidelines for children. Civilian complaints, however, tend to focus on a grandmother’s inarguable right to themed birthday cakes:

Ms. Britten — How would YOU react to the government lecturing you about making a princess cake for your granddaughter? How Americans interact with their grandchildren is not the business of the USDA, Michele Obama [sic], or YOU! MYOB.

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Others suggest alternate bedtime reading material:

There is no way in hell I’ll be passing government propaganda onto my grandchildren. I’ll read them the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Then, at the appropriate age, tell them the stories of Ruby Ridge and Waco.

The opposition comes down, basically, to this: After I take my beloved granddaughter to American Girl Place (like all good patriots do), I’m going to force-feed her Cheetos through an IV drip if I goddamn please. America: This is why we can’t have nice things.


* Recently released research questions the findings of the CDC, showing that it’s possible that obesity rates for very young children actually increased instead of decreased.

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