I’m Pretending You Asked, Issue 9


What is broccoli? It’s the green monster food that EVERY child hates. It’s tart and green and funky looking, and for some reason, it smells even worse when it’s steamed.  So why have generations of parents made their kids eat it? Well, it’s insanely good for you. Like, when we call it a superfood, we literally mean it’s the real reason that Superman has his powers. Santa probably eats it, too. And while we’re on the subject, let’s hear some applause for some other foods that are REALLY good for you: spinach and Brussels sprouts and asparagus and green beans and oh wait… all children everywhere despise these foods. So this begs the question: Now that modern science has pills and gummies and substitutes galore, why still eat these green vegetables? 

Scientifically speaking, no child should like broccoli. Or any other bitter food for that matter. Broccoli, spinach, and coffee are all acquired tastes. The reason for this is that in the wild, bitter meant poison, and poison oftentimes meant dead. Parents’ reasoning for feeding their child bitter things anyways would be to feed them the necessary nutrients for survival. The only problem nowadays is that science is magic and has developed plenty of supplements that will, theoretically, pump the same essential nutrients into your bloodstream. Sure, it’s hard to get a kid to swallow a pill, but it’s harder to chase your child around the dinner table with a forkful of mush shouting, ‘POPEYE EATS HIS GREENS! WHY CAN’T YOU!?!?’ – a problem I’m sure we’ve all experienced. So why not make lives a little easier? Why not move into the modern age? 

Well, there’s a reason we’ve had supplements since the ‘70s and still choose real vegetables: Whole foods. And no, I don’t mean the store, I mean what the store wants you to think of when you say their name: Fresh produce grown on a farm in the dirt with worms and stiff, a dewdrop about to fall on to the head of a small, smiling, bug. The benefit of eating real foods is slight but noticeable. For lack of wanting to quote a bunch of numbers here, I’ll sum up the research I read: the body has an easier time breaking down and distributing nutrients when it comes from something like a carrot and not a vitamin C tablet. Extra supplements should only be used if you have some sort of difficulty. Often, the pills are too much for your body to ingest and end up just making a really odd urine sample. 

This is an odd argument I had in my head with myself. It sounds nasty to survive off of mostly pills for nutrients, but in theory, it’s possible if executed properly. Also, sometimes it could be more cost-effective. No matter what you decide, I stand by the fact that EVERY child should have to go through the pains of having to run around the table, refusing to eat a forkful of spinach.