“I’m not very curious about what people had out. I’m interested in what people have in, because I’m very interested in people’s domestic lives. I used to think I was fretting away my time, but the fact is, what is more interesting than how people live? I personally can’t think of anything. Maybe war or death or something, but not to me.”
Parents and kids who visit the promotion's site will also find the "Top 5 Reasons to Get Back to the Table" (better grades, nutrition, confidence levels, etc. for kids); a database of easy, low-cost recipes featuring Libby's vegetables; and tips on planning meals and saving time and money at the grocery store - some from "Total Mom" author/TV personality Hannah Keeley.Indeed, there’s definitely a new science that tries to support those claims. A recent University of Minnesota study found that adolescent girls who ate with their families at least five times a week during middle school were much less likely to drink, smoke or use marijuana five years later. The same, alas, did not hold true for boys. Even the researchers are not really sure what that means, so forgive me if I’m not quick to jump on the Return of the Family Meal Bandwagon. Most of the data shows that people do make an effort to eat family meals, perhaps not every night, but in a regular and sustained pattern. So why is Libby marketing nostalgia for something that isn’t really gone?
History shows that worries about family dinners come back like the tide whenever there’s certain kinds of social upheaval – let’s see which ones apply today: war (got that), economic downturns (got that), changes in men’s and women’s work and home roles (got that, too) and, oh yeah, rising food prices (got that, too!).
So, Libby’s attempt to promote its canned goods in this manner is a longstanding cultural tradition. What’s different is that the tide has changed: it’s very difficult to sell canned vegetables today when fresh are shipped quickly across the globe, making asparagus available year round. So, tastes – or at least the arbiters of taste -- have moved away from the canned and towards the accessibility of fresh. The movement to get people to eat fresh, local food is gaining ground.
But Libby’s rather unabashed promotion of its canned vegetables flies in the face of so many things. At the same time, it recognizes that sooner or later, the ability to buy fresh and continue to buy whatever produce you want out of season may be more difficult for people under the economic crunch. It’s not surprising that the family meal has returned – articles about comfort food are just around the corner, waiting for the fall weather and heating bill crunch. As Libby rightly knows, smart moms are already thinking about stocking up on canned goods before the recipes start asking for pureed pumpkin. How about some pie?
Tags: retail, shopping, food