Making sure that children eat the crusts and bread ends is a regular obsession in a lot of households, and has been for many years. Throwing them away is an obvious waste of food, so what can we do to encourage little ones to polish off their crusts?
Modern studies even show that parents who are obsessed with the consumption of crusts may have been right all along. The darker areas of bread are thought to contain more antioxidants, which can stop the body absorbing dangerous oxidants from the atmosphere such as ozone.
You’re going to have your work cut out explaining that to young children as a reason to eat up their crusts though.
It also seems that the non-crust eating brigade are members for life. I have a 41 year old friend who insists on having a knife supplied with any sandwich I make him. He’s too embarrassed to ask me to remove the crusts when I make the sandwich, so he spends a minute or so carefully removing them himself before he starts.
I then get the inevitable,
“Daddy, why is Aaron not eating his crusts?”
I have solved this problem by advising Aaron that he will not get another beer from me until he eats every last scrap of sandwich on his plate. This has worked remarkably well and I would recommend this method to try on all non-crust eaters who are over 18.
The Curly Hair Myth
So what is the most tried and tested bribery method that is being used against the under 18s? Is it the deprivation of TV or iPad? The threat of no pudding? The threat of an early bedtime?
No. Most crust eating related threats seem to stem from hair related issues. Who can relate to,
“If you eat all your crusts it’ll put hairs on your chest”
Or, the favourite,
“If you eat up all of your crusts it’ll make your hair grow curly”
I have two boys. These two boys live in a modern world where they see that the majority of blokes no longer have hairs on their chests so why on earth would they want that? They also point out, quite rightly, that regardless of the amount of crusts that mummy eats her chest remains hair free. Checkmate.
They also fail to understand why having curly hair would be a bonus. Again, something I have no counter argument for.
Surely a better way to get your children to eat the crusts would be a trade off against something even worse? How about,
“For every crust you eat a Brussels Sprout dies…”
That would work for me even now.
So what can we do?
It seems the options are:
- Gently encourage your kids to eat up their crusts but without making a big deal of it – they will sense the opportunity to rebel
- Cut the ends off before serving and freeze them to reuse as breadcrumbs to top fish pies or pasta bakes with – check out some other creative uses for ‘breadovers’
- Try different types of bread than plain old sliced – try finding the crust on a bagel or a pitta bread!
- Wait for them to grow out of it (and if they still haven’t at 41, it might be time to admit defeat)
To be honest, in my house I am in an unusual (and fortunate) situation in that my bread-obsessed eight year old craves crusts and bread ends. How many times have I checked I’m alone, carefully picked up the bag of bread ends and quietly made my way to the garden. The birds are sitting there with their little mouths open when I suddenly hear a small voice,
“Daddy… what are you doing with those?”