Annalisa van den Bergh

Mighty Munch Playing Cards Aim To Make Vegetables Fun For Kids

I try to view my Type 1 Diabetes as more of an asset than a burden. Don’t get me wrong– it’s a pain. Having the disease means that my pancreas, the organ that typically turns food into energy, does not work. T1D has limited my spontaneity, required me to count every carbohydrate I’ve consumed in order to take the correct amount of insulin, and has regularly interrupted my sleep cycle. But it has also opened my eyes: because of my condition, I’m hyperaware of my nutrition and have come to realize the tremendous impact our food choices have on our overall well-being. Because of my condition, I find America’s eating habits particularly frustrating.

“Sprouting from this very frustration and the fact that we form our eating habits at a young age, I created a collection of trading cards called Mighty Munch to help change the way young kids eat for the better.”

It may be hard to believe that sipping soda is not so different from snorting cocaine– that sounds like a ridiculous statement, but it’s true. The obesity epidemic has gotten out of control. Last year in the Netherlands, I saw a commuter downing a hamburger while running to catch his train. The American on-the-run, empty calorie filled way of eating has unfortunately spread to Europe and beyond.

Sprouting from this very frustration and the fact that we form our eating habits at a young age, I created a collection of trading cards called Mighty Munch to help change the way young kids eat for the better. Through research and fieldwork done with Design for America and for my degree project at the Rhode Island School of Design, I learned that people don’t care much for their future state of health. As Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein point out in their book Nudge, “We get the pleasure now and suffer the consequences later.” If you tell someone they’re going to die of smoking in 30 years, they’re going to continue puffing because the future is abstract. That’s why telling someone the immediate benefits of a healthy habit is more effective than informing them of the long-term consequences of an unhealthy one. A lot of parents I spoke with found it helpful to tell their children that they will grow stronger and taller if they eat their vegetables for this reason. Second, kids love to collect– be it stamps, rocks, or dolls. Their collections help form their budding identities. And lastly, kids are drawn to mascots. Take a walk down your local cereal aisle and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

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Annalisa van den Bergh

Keeping all of this in mind, I swapped nutrition facts for superpowers. Power Cards are rewarded to children for trying corresponding foods.

“Kids love to collect– be it stamps, rocks, or dolls. Their collections help form their budding identities… My main focus in this instance was to create something tangible and entertaining that kids could take away that represents the health benefits they’re accustomed to ignore.”

For example, eating celery grants you the superpower of Flexibility and munching on a carrot gives you Night Sight. These superpowers come from real, concrete nutritional facts– synchronized and exaggerated for the cause. As a child’s palate expands, so does their collection of cards. As a graphic designer, I try to make information simple and easy for people to digest. My main focus in this instance was to create something tangible and entertaining that kids could take away that represents the health benefits they’re accustomed to ignore.

Distributing these cards in supermarkets and schools has garnered a lot of excitement. As children engaged with the cards, they taught each other about nutrition and tried foods they would have otherwise called yucky. My goal is to get these cards to as many children as possible. I hope you’ll join me in brightening up our children’s plates and celebrating the tremendous power of fruits and vegetables.

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For more information on Mighty Munch cards, visit www.mightymunch.org.

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