Is That Right? A Full Serving of Vegetables in Chef Boyardee
The current ad for Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli shows a kid eating a bowl of the stuff while his mom tries to prevent his dad from saying what the voice-over eventually announces: "There's a full serving of vegetables in every bowl of Chef Boyardee. Just don't tell them."
The first ingredient listed on the can is indeed "tomatoes." Leaving aside the fact that tomatoes are, technically, fruits, let's look at what else the label says. Each one-cup serving -- there are two per 15-ounce can -- contains 240 calories (70 of them from fat), 8 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber -- and 900 milligrams of sodium. A serving provides 6 percent of the Daily Value of Vitamin A, 2 percent of the DV for calcium, and 10 percent of the DV for iron.
For comparison's sake, a medium-sized tomato, at 27 calories (zero of them from fat), delivers 2 grams of fiber, 1 gram of protein, and just 7 milligrams of sodium. The tomato also offers 25 percent of the DV for Vitamin A, 32 percent of the DV for Vitamin C, 1 percent of the DV for calcium and 2 percent of the DV for iron. (I got my numbers from NutritionData.com.)
Of course, few kids are likely to choose a tomato over beef ravioli. But if you're going to serve your child a bowl of canned pasta thinking it's just like giving him a nice healthful vegetable, you might want to look hard at the nutrition facts. Vegetables shouldn't pack a bunch of sodium, for one thing. And what on Earth did Chef Boyardee do with the Vitamin C that tomatoes naturally contain?
I don't really have anything against Chef Boyardee products. What I do object to is the notion that we parents have to be secretive about sneaking healthful foods into our kids' diets. The Boyardee tag-line "Obviously delicious. Secretly nutritious." paired with the ad-mom's outlandish efforts to keep her son from hearing that the food he's eating is good for him is kind of insulting to the kid, isn't it?
I know, it's supposed to be funny, and perhaps I should lighten up. But by encouraging kids to associate yumminess only with foods that aren't good for them, are we doing them any favors?
Jennifer LaRue Huget
June 26, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Family Health , Is That Right? , Nutrition and Fitness
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