Better Kids' Menus

Kids’ menus haven’t changed since the 1970’s. It’s all still nuggets and the usual beige, bland, boring choices.

One in four Aussie kids are now overweight or obese and they’re twice as likely to be so as their parents at the same age. (Australian Institute of Health & Welfare, Nov-2017). More info here.

Our cafes and restaurants can do more to help get kids into good food. There’s so much talent and passion in the industry, just a little more time and energy could make a real difference.

As Nathan from Top Paddock said “I want my children to eat nutritious food at home, so why would it be any different when I go out? We want parents to expect more from cafes and restaurants.”

To get started we created a menu with Top Paddock. After a trial they’re now including interesting kids’ choices permanently. Punchbowl Canteen in Port Melbourne have also started their menu.

Run a cafe or restaurant? It’s simple to get involved and we’ll promote what you do to help spread the word. Email for information.

If you’re a parent, ask your local cafes to provide at least one interesting, nutritious option.

Food is a system. If everyone does a little more — whether at home, eating out or in Government — we can improve what kids think is normal.

#betterkidsmenus #deathtonuggets

Big events = bad kids’ food?

Seems like beige food has a monopoly on big events.

Kids don’t want to choose between either having fun or eating good nutritious stuff, so we aim for both.

Victoria Racing Club invited Death to Nuggets to their family day, Australian Guineas Day, on March 3rd.

We served up tons of fresh veg, nothing fried and everything with a twist; edible ants in the picnic plate, a green grass-fed bun for the grass-fed burger amongst others.

We also had Nugget #886583 walking the course (although he’s not very fit, he’s only 30% chicken) and Charli taking requests from kids for personalised nugget artwork.

Lots of happy parents. Lots of happy kids. Trot on.

Bugg Power!!

Exploring the future of food (A.K.A Cows fart too much kids, let’s eat bugs).

Raising livestock to eat makes more greenhouse gas than cars. Insects are nutritious, eco-friendly and already on the plate of 2 billion people, why not here in Australia too?

On Oct-7th we had 25 kids and their parents over for our Bugg Power dinner. On the menu was Chocolate crackle, Weeds & worms, Cricket fried rice and Ant trifle.

There was lots to try. Crunchy, nutty little insect morsels, foraged grasses to garnish your plate and specks of bee pollen. Not everything was as it seemed either, is that really a big shiny earth worm on my plate?

It was another kids-first eating experience; talk to the chefs and watch them plating food in the kitchen, do some art, eat with your hands if you want. Special guests were Di McGrath – Mars One astronaut candidate – who talked about the reasons to eat insects on this planet and beyond, and our illustrator Charli who was live-drawing nuggets for kids.

It was a food journey for kids and adults alike. At the end almost everyone agreed, the idea of eating bugs is more challenging than the reality. A successful evening and yet another reason not to eat nuggets.

Thank you again to My Son, Joy for hosting us at your beautiful venue.

Eating Nemo?!

Sept-9th 2017. What eating out for kids should be; fun, creative, hands-on and delicious.

4 courses of aquatic goodness: Reverse fish and chips, DIY Seashore, Neptune’s Fishy Balls and the Fish Tank to dive into for dessert.

Everyone tried something new, and not a nugget in sight.

Thank you again to My Son, Joy for hosting us at your beautiful venue.

Eating Nemo?! Film

The Edible Garden

Aug-5th 2017. Veges and imagination in every course. Splat plates went splat at the table, rainbow pasta, magic soup and the Edible Garden to finish. Thank you My Son, Joy for hosting us at your beautiful venue.

On the TV box.

Talking about Death to Nuggets over a bowl of porridge.

In Time Out and Broadsheet

We were very chuffed to find ourselves rubbing shoulders with the best things to do in Melbourne.

Click images for full article.

What the actual what? The facts about our food problem.

Here are facts. They come from scientists and statisticians whose very reason for being is objective, accurate reporting, arming people to make good decisions.

The picture is very clear.

Collectively we’re like a lobster in a pot of water that’s getting hotter and hotter. The gradual change is imperceptible, it still feels normal.

But normal this is not. Alarm bells are ringing all across the world. It will be too late for many people unless individuals and governments make changes soon.

Obesity Epidemic

  • From 1980 to 2015 rates of obesity at least doubled in 73 countries, including Australia
  • No country on this planet has reduced overweight or obesity in the past 25 years
  • 10% of the world’s population are now obese, that’s 600 million people [1]
  • In Australia 63% of adults are overweight or obese, and 25% of children [2]

The Consequences

  • Overweight is now linked to more deaths worldwide than underweight, 4 million people in 2015 [3]
  • Consequences include heart disease (no. 1 cause of death worldwide), kidney disease, diabetes (fastest growing diet related disease in Australia), some cancers (biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking) & disorders like osteoarthritis
  • The impact it will have on today’s kids later this century has been likened to a time-bomb

The Causes

  • Exercise is a factor but many scientists believe our food choices are the main driver
  • We eat more processed and energy dense food, and less fresh food than ever before
  • Over 35% of our daily energy is coming from discretionary snacks and soft drinks
  • Less than 1% of our children are eating the recommended amount of veg each day [4]
  • We are losing basic food knowledge. 68% of teens don’t know where food comes from [5]

Experts say a response on the scale of HIV is needed, globally co-ordinated and at all levelsChange can seem hard, but it’s not in this case. It’s in the choices we make each day.  We need a lot of people – you and I — to make a handful of little changes.  And we need a few people – our elected representatives — to make some big changes.

More about that in another place.

  1. The New England Journal of Medicine, 2017. Funded by The Gates Foundation.
  2. ABS, National Health Survey, 2014-15
  3. The World Health Organisation, 2016
  4. ABS 2016
  5. Radobank, 2014

A Netflix sandwich. How Death to Nuggets came to be.

In the beginning there was Netflix.

At the end, oddly, also Netflix.

Start at The Chef’s Table. This series opened my eyes to what food can be. I’ve enjoyed meals at great restaurants before, but I’d never seen behind the curtain to the force that’s making it happen.

Chef’s Table did that, beeeeeeautifully shot and with so many great stories of chefs breaking boundaries. Rethinking where food comes from, how it’s made and what it looks like. These were people creating outrage and bewilderment in some circles – reinventing iconic national dishes in Italy that that were considered off-limits, opening a vegetarian fine dining restaurant in France (zut alors!) and taking haute cuisine to new parts of the world like Brazil, Slovenia and the Artic region of Sweden.

These were people with a vision, something new they wanted to create and the determination – often at times bloody minded stubbornness – not to relent, even in the face of empty restaurants, bad reviews, bills to pay and families to feed. And the world eventually caught up with them.

I’ve worked with similarly driven creative people in advertising. Rich Flintham at Fallon stands out. Rich is enigmatic and a low-talker so he can be hard to follow. But you want to follow. You know you need to because Rich knows what he wants, it’s brilliant and you won’t find it anywhere else on the planet. Out of his mind and under his direction have fallen Sony’s Balls commercial, Cadbury’s Gorilla and Skoda’s Cake-car (name checks also due at this point to Juan Cabral, John Allison, Chris Bovill).

Rich’s thing was for ads where the camera recorded something that had actually happened. In an age where most were going mad for CGI and the ‘stuff’ it could create, Rich was headed the other direction and the results were memorable, unlike most ads.

I’d never thought of food as such a creative pursuit until Chef’s Table. But I liked it. Creativity is the most interesting thing about advertising, defining a black-and-white, rational problem and putting a colourful, emotional thing around it.

But where were the kids amidst all this culinary cunning? I’m surrounded by them (I have 3) but you could watch Chef’s Table and think that people under 20 don’t exist. Obviously a $200, 7 course, 4 hour fine dining experience and a small child are incompatible in so many ways, however kids get excited by imagination and ideas in a way that adults have forgotten. Surely some kind of overlap must exist?

We started to talk about food ideas at home. The ideas flowed. Some would be tricky to realise, like Arlo’s vision of a fully robot powered restaurant, but some are now being created at Death to Nuggets.

So far, so whimsical. There are plenty of things that are possible, but why go any further?

I started connecting the micro with the macro.

As a stay-home parent meal planning, cooking and spending lots of time with the kids you see up close that food is HARD.

The crap peddlers are everywhere in our culture and in our lives. They’re spending billions and using all the tricks in the marketing playbook.

In this environment sugar, salt and fat are almost magnetically attractive to kids – as they are many adults – and the reverse is often true for the things we want them to eat. It’s a daily challenge trying to minimise the crap and maximise the good.

Meanwhile, the good guys are hopelessly outgunned and with a message that’s way less fun….what you should do, what happens if you don’t etc.

At the macro level Team Crap is winning. Easily. The health stats are awful and getting worse, but we live in a time where information comes at us like a blizzard so it’s hard to focus on what’s important. And change is HARD. Especially when habits are formed, the negative effects are delayed and the short cuts are so cheap, easy and tasty, kind of.

That’s when the other slice of Netflix landed in the shape of Pablo Escobar (Narcos).

Pablo was having trouble with Communist Guerrillas kidnapping the family members of his cartel (hate it when that happens). It was interrupting business and a strong, clear message needed to be sent. Muerte a Secuestradores (Death to Kidnappers) announced Pablo, forming a group under the name and embarking on a gruesome rampage.

Death to Nuggets was bringing those strands all together. Addressing a real problem of our time. A clear enemy and a clear purpose (without the death squads). Use creativity to make good choices interesting and attractive.

I remember a Disney exec describing films like Finding Nemo as 4-quartile movies. There’s stuff there for both kids and adults to really enjoy. We want the same, for adults to get the positive nature of what we’re doing, and for kids to get involved because they want to, not because they’re being told to.

We need to move past this current point in our relationship with food. To make good normal and treats occasional again. There’s lots we need to do in order to bring that about.

– To understand the harm of bad choices.

– To rein in the power of big companies selling us crap

– To make good food choices interesting, not a chore

– To make time for cooking in our lives and get started

Please get involved and let’s see what we can do together.

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