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Comments Posted 08.19.09 | PERMALINK | PRINT

Alexandra Lange

Eye Roll for Ice Cream


There’s a piece in the NYT Dining section today about parents’ (no wait, per the headline, moms’) objections to ice cream trucks. Eye roll, please. This story is not news to me, since the Bococa Parents listserv to which I subscribe was consumed by this debate for several days early this summer. I am only surprised it took this long for it to make it into the Times, as most of their parenting trend stories are seemingly ripped straight from Bococa or the new-reduced Park Slope Parents emails. As usual, the reporter has covered her tracks, quoting liberally from Brooklyn parents while the photo shows an ice cream cart from elsewhere. The outrage is national.

The “controversy” is twofold, sugar and oil, calories and fumes and while I try to be careful with my son’s diet, I can’t get too excited about one idling truck when I live half a block from the BQE. In New York City. Mr. Softee seems like the least of our airborne pollutant troubles. Most of the Mr. Softee men of my acquaintance only stay at the playground as long as the line outside their window, so it is usually possible to distract your 2-year-old in the sprinklers. On Bococa Parents, as in the article, biodiesel fuels came up as a possible solution (let’s green Mr. Softee!). On Bococa Parents, however, there was also a learned debate about the percentage biodiesel various “green” companies like Fresh Direct are using. I couldn’t quite follow, but as with most sustainable initiatives, there seems to be a fair amount of corporate greenwashing.

As the story also points out, a single scoop cone is only 190 calories, not the difference between slimness and obesity, particularly for kids who are already OUTSIDE playing. I am sure the ice cream sold by the gourmet trucks mentioned has more calories, if fewer dread additives. Following the aggreived parents’ lead, the NYT story keeps upping the ante, from calories to corn syrup, from additives to cost (also greater for the gourmet options). The bottom line is parents are objecting to their loss of control as their children start to want to eat more than what’s put in front of them. What all the reasonable baby books tell us is, Don’t make food a battleground.

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Alexandra Lange is an architecture and design critic, and author of Writing about Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities. (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012). Her work has appeared in The Architect's Newspaper, Architectural Record, Dwell, Metropolis, Print, New York Magazine and The New York Times.
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BOOKS BY Alexandra Lange

Writing About Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities
Princeton Architectural Press, 2012

Design Research
Chronicle Books, 2010

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